Interview with Rob Bell: 7 Marathons, 7 Continents, 7 Days!

Travel Channel’s new exciting commission premiering in April 2015 will take you to an extraordinary journey lived through the eyes of a team of 6 brave guys who are not afraid to run 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 consecutive days.

Travel Channel always presents a unique perspective on the travel experience. Programmes transport viewers around the globe, from luxury getaways and culinary quests, from backpacking adventures to epic journeys. In its new commission, Travel Channel is following – from a very close perspective – Rob Bell and his team starting from Antarctica, going then to South America and North America before heading to London, then Cairo to Singapore, and finally Australia as last destination.

For the past year, the team have been planning and training for this marathon. They all have done endurance events before, but nothing like this. The running itself will of course be a challenge, but with sleep confined to only the few hours they can grab on planes between locations, adds a whole new element.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes was the first man to complete this challenge. He uttered these words once he was done: “In retrospect I wouldn’t have done it. I wouldn’t do it again”.

“This is going to hurt. Bad.” Rob said.

The Charities
As Team Continental Drift consists of a mixture of Australians and Brits, they have selected two local charities close to our hearts. Both charities provide access to sport for disabled children as well as helping them lead normal lives. This marathon is a self-funded adventure and as such, all donations go directly to the charities.

KEEN London is a registered charity that runs free weekly sports and recreation sessions for children (aged five and up) and young adults with learning, behavioural and physical disabilities — their athletes.

The John Maclean Foundation (JMF) exists to change the lives of young Australians who use wheelchairs. Their mission is to inspire, motivate and enable these great kids to chase their dreams.

The Team

Rob Bell
Rob is an adrenaline junkie with the thirst for adventure running through his veins. With a dedication to engineering, Rob has presented some of our most extreme shows including Engineering Giants, Man Vs World and Secrets and Mysteries.

Dan Honour
Dan likes to run. Fast. When he’s not running, he’s eating

Steve Vials
Steve is the talented member of the team. The guitar may not make an appearance but AC/DC lyrics are guaranteed to.

Peter Bocquet
Pete is the brains of the operation.
This isn’t necessarily a good thing. But, having been to all 7 continents before, we will certainly look to Pete for guidance.

Gareth Williams
A seasoned marathon runner and all round athlete, Gareth will make sure the pace doesn’t slow

Ben Goodburn
Ben exudes charm. This power will be useful when we’re trying to fight through airport queues running for that all important next flight

Interview with Rob Bell
Q: What drives you to take part to this marathon and which is the goal you want to achieve in this adventure?
A: We’ve all run individual marathons. We’ve all raced in triathlons and even Ironman, but very few people in the world have ever completed the challenge of running 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days and that’s part of its appeal – to push the limits and see just what we’re capable of. Along the way, the motivation will be the two fantastic charities we’re raising money for. KEEN London and the John Maclean Foundation in Australia. Both provide access to sport for disabled kids.

Q: How did you prepare yourself for this challenge?
A: One of the few people to have ever completed the challenge was Sir Ranulph Fiennes who on finishing said “In retrospect I wouldn’t have done it. I wouldn’t do it again”. We’ve had to take that in our stride and do whatever we can to not feel like that when we take our last few steps across the finish line come our final Marathon in Sydney. For the last 5 months we’ve all been training really hard. Pounding the pavements and the parks whatever the weather. Racking up thousands of miles. We’ve had specialist advice and training programmes from our team physiotherapists to strengthen all the muscles that will help us run efficiently, we’ve paid attention to our nutrition (which has basically meant putting back what we’ve used up – license to eat!) and we’ve tried to be as meticulous as possible in planning all the complex logistics. It’s no mean feat!

Q: What do you think is the element that scares you the most?
A: There are four things I’ve lost a bit of sleep over in the run up to this challenge:
1. The potential for extreme cold temperatures and howling wind in Antarctica. Just because it’ll be summer down there doesn’t mean it won’t be extreme. It’s a highly exposed and volatile environment which none of us have ever experienced before and the wrong conditions could double the amount of effort we need to put in to actually finish that run.
2. The complete opposite of that in Singapore: Humidity can easily reach 95%, which when running will feel like trying to wade through treacle. We’ll lose kilograms through sweat and with that being our 6th marathon our bodies will likely already be under-hydrated before we even start running. Severe de-hydration is a very serious threat and if not managed correctly could land one of us in hospital.
3. General fatigue. The only sleep we’ll be getting on this challenge is on planes in between continents. We’re flying economy the entire trip so getting comfortable will be difficult and the desire for sleep will be compromised by the need for re-hydration, re-fuelling (eating) and stretching to avoid the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT – which we’ve been advised our bodies will be prime targets for) and muscles & joints seizing up. I won’t be surprised if there are some fairly grumpy runners getting off planes…
4. Picking up an injury. Despite all the training and all the preparation for the last year towards this adventure, the risk of picking up an injury will be fairly high. The amount of stress we’ll be putting on our bodies is huge through both all the running each day and the complete lack of time to recover from one marathon before starting again. An injury could put a premature end to the whole thing and I know I’ll be absolutely devastated if for some reason I don’t get to finish the journey. But I will be doing everything in my power to avoid that – and that’s why we’ve all worked so hard to be 100% ready.

Q: You are part of an exciting team, what do you think each component will bring to this trip?
A: The team is made up of 6 runners but more importantly, we’re 6 friends. The last 12 months have been so much fun coming together and working on a group project that we’re all so passionate about and all so desperately now determined to get to the end. There’s a huge amount of ribbing and support dealt out amongst us all and as in any group of friends, everyone plays their own individual role. You’ve got the Joker, the Charmer, the Natural Leader, the Details guy, the Wise One and the Not-so-wise One. I’ll leave it to you to figure out who’s who.

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