JUST weeks after completing a gruelling six-day race across the Sahara desert, Sir Ranulph Fiennes is already planning his next big adventure - and hoping for a little help from a Yorkshire millionaire.
The legendary explorer entered the Marathon des Sables earlier this month and become the oldest Briton to complete “the world’s toughest race”.
Now, despite suffering back problems during the 155 mile ultra-marathon, he is putting some thought into his next challenge.
The 71-year-old helped raise £1m in donations to Marie Curie, the cancer care charity, from the desert trek thanks to the support of his friend Paul Sykes who covered the costs of taking part.
It might seem an unlikely friendship - one the Eton-educated former SAS officer, the other a self-made son of a Barnsley miner - but since meeting 12 years ago at a speaking engagement in Yorkshire they have been close collaborators.
Sir Ranulph would not divulge much about his next challenge but joked that it “definitely will not be running; I’ve had enough of that, at least for a while.”
He described running across desert landscapes as “not to my taste at all. By the time I realised that, it was too late.”
Asked about his next challenge, he told The Yorkshire Post that it was in the early stages of planning and that the destination was “pretty cold”.
Pressed for a little more detail, he joked: “Many years ago I was trained by the SAS to resist interrogation. The Irish psychiatrist Anthony Clare once put me ‘on the couch’ and said it was like ‘stirring a void with a teaspoon’. I didn’t give much away.”
Sir Ranulph has yet to suggest the challenge to Marie Curie charity bosses.
“I haven’t even got as far as asking Paul Sykes yet,” he added.
“He (Mr Sykes) doesn’t always agree when I put things to him. He has made it clear in the past that if there is too much risk attached to it (he won’t fund it), as he doesn’t want me to end up having a health problem.”
Sir Ranulph is no stranger to health problems, having overcome two heart attacks, a double heart bypass and a cancer operation - which his Mr Sykes is fully aware of.
The Yorkshire businessman said he hoped Sir Ranulph would choose something less dangerous, having previously funded his successful Everest summit bid and the climb of Eiger’s notorious North Face.
“The guy is just going to keep going,” said Mr Sykes.
“To be honest, I keep wanting to make this the final one. He’s a brilliant example to those people who might feel they are getting old.”
He described his friend’s pursuit of adventure as “endless”.
“I hope he has a long rest before he starts anything else. I hope he’s not going to do something life threatening.
“He’s had heart trouble but physically he’s in good condition. He had a triple heart bypass and then did marathons. He’s everybody’s hero.”