Ranulph Fiennes Struggling in Desert Marathon

71-year-old adventurer faces heart troubles

Apr 10, 2015
Outside Magazine
Ranulph Fiennes Struggling in Desert Marathon

The Marathon des Sables is a six-day ultramarathon that stretches 155 miles through the Sahara in southern Morocco.    tent86/Flickr

Endurance athlete Sir Ranulph Fiennes has complained of unnerving heart rhythms while competing in the Marathon des Sables, a 155-mile ultramarathon in the Sahara Desert, according to the Telegraph. His trainer, Rory Coleman, is urging Fiennes to be cautious.

“We need to be really careful,” Coleman told the Telegraph. “I don’t know if he is going to make it.”

Coleman’s concerns about Fiennes’ heart are not unfounded. The Berkshire-born former British Army officer has had two heart attacks and a double heart bypass in his lifetime.

Fiennes told Outside in March, shortly before starting the race, that he did “not want to be removed by French helicopters or whatever they have, like vultures, waiting for geriatrics to be removed.”

On Friday, Fiennes completed the most difficult part of the race and spoke to reporters from the medical tent after 30 hours of walking in temperatures above 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

“I had a very bad period towards the end of yesterday. I hope it doesn’t reoccur today. I slept well last night and had painkillers for my back, so it should be okay,” he told the Telegraph. “But I’m obviously worried that it will reoccur.”