SWAPPING Herefordshire home comforts for sub-zero climes in Greenland, Oliver Whittall admits he “quite likes” to put himself through it.
Hailed as the “world’s toughest cross-ski race”, Oli will be taking on the 160km Arctic Circle Race in April, to raise funds for Help for Heroes.
The 34-year-old , from Dilwyn, will spend three days competing 65km north of the Arctic Circle – on and around the glaciers of Greenland – starting and finishing each day back at a base camp.
The average temperature during this time of year can vary between zero and minus 30 degrees centigrade, so survival equipment as well as rations for 24 hours are required to be carried during the day by all participants.
“The greatest danger will be hypothermia and frost bite. I’m not sure about the polar bears – I presume they will be about but they have people watching to ensure we’re safe," he said.
“In terms of training, at the moment I am running and cycling but I have a week’s training in Austria ahead of the event.”
Oli is no stranger to a challenge, having previously competed in both the Marathon Des Sables in the Sahara Desert and the North Face Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc TDS – a 110km endurance run over the Alps.
Both of those events also raised funds for Help for Heroes – a charity close to his heart.
“I have always loved military history. In 2004 I joined the TA myself for a short time and a friend who joined with me was injured in Afghanistan," he said.
“That made it a bit more personal – having someone I know very well that I was raising money for. I have friends who have lost husbands, know people who have been injured, people that have and still do serve.
“I guess there’s also a sense of guilt that I never went and didn’t serve.”
Oli pays for all fees associated with entering the competition so that all money raised through sponsorship goes directly to the charity.
To donate, visit justgiving.com/Oli-Whittall-snowdownmypants