Marathon man Gary takes on grueling Mount Everest challenge for Marie Curie hospice

A MARATHON mad runner will risk life and limb to conquer Mount Everest in a grueling 26 mile challenge later this month.

Amid potential avalanches, debilitating atmospheric changes and sheer drops, legal eagle Gary Friday of Southport Citizen’s Advice Bureau will take on the Mount Everest Marathon on May 29 to raise vital funds for the Marie Curie Hospice in Liverpool.

Listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the highest marathon in the world., the Everest Marathon starts 17,000ft above sea level at the Everest Base Camp in Nepal before running 26 miles down hill to the Sherpa town of Namche Bazaar – 6,000 feet below!

But before Gary, 47, can even think about strapping on his running boots, he’ll have to fly into the most dangerous airport in the world where his plane will land on a short uphill runway and narrowly stop before hitting a sheer rock face.

If Gary survives this part of the ordeal he will then trek through the Himalayas to the Everest base camp before being lectured on the dangers of sudden avalanches and loose rocks underfoot – before he finally gets to start running!

He will do all this – as well as camping in freezing temperatures – for the Marie Curie Hospice in Liverpool in memory of both his parents who he lost to cancer.

Speaking ahead of his journey, Gary told the Champion: “We will trek for 12 days to 18,500 feet above Mount Everest Base Camp  following which I will compete in the Tenzing Hilary Marathon.

“Ahead of that I will be spending two nights acclimatisation under a canvas tent in Minus 20 conditions at Mount Everest Base Camp!

“That’s providing all goes well when we first arrive in the Himalayas!

“After arriving in Kathmandu we take an early morning flight to Lukla – one of the most dangerous airports in the world.

“It has an uphill runway and a rock face at the end of it so there is no margin for error.

“Very few pilots are able fly in there as there is no radar or air traffic control and once a descent is made to basically spot a postage stamp in the Himalayas, there is no turning back either you land or you don’t.

“Around the middle of last year I was visiting the Marie Curie Hospice in Liverpool and noticed a large figure on the wall of £6397.

“On making enquiries I was informed this is how much it costs to keep the Hospice for the terminally ill open for just  a single day.

“I lost both parents to cancer and have always held an enormous debt of gratitude for the kind treatment and inspiring compassion they received from Marie Curie.

“I echoed the desire to help the hospice to my friends Roger and Ray and collectively it was agreed we would endeavour to trek to Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal in an attempt to raise the £6397.

“But that was on the condition I ran the Everest Marathon.

“Somehow I cannot help feeling I drew the short straw but to aid the hospice which treats all people with any terminally illness from all over Sefton and Liverpool, it is more than worth it.

“For someone who has never camped in his life and does not really like heights, this really will be a baptism of fire and way beyond what I have ever experienced in marathon running.

“I’ve previously ran difficult marathons in Moscow, Bangkok, Auckland and New York for charity but this will be the toughest yet.

“This is seen as one  of the most torturous and arduous endurance tests in existence.

“Reasonable runners take anything from eight to 11 hours to finish due to the air being 50% thinner than normal and the brutal jagged rock face terrain.

”I do not pretend to being apprehensive about the marathon given the Avalanche which killed people at Base Camp around 18 months ago and the earthquake to hit Kathmandu last year.

“But at the same time I am excited and inspired to give something back to Marie Curie who made my family’s pain so much easier to deal with.”

For more information or to sponsor Gary visit http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Gary-Roger-Ray-Everest.