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YHA Running the world with Ben Spurway
    22/09/2015 11:19

Running the world with Ben Spurway

Running the world with Ben Spurway

If you’ve stayed at YHA Keswick or YHA Eskdale recently and crossed paths with a particularly steely-eyed group of outdoor-lovers, it could well be that you came face to face with Ben Spurway and his friends. The 43-year-old military reservist is one of a group of four who have been using our Lake District properties as training bases, in preparation for a decidedly extreme adventure race next year.

Billed as the world’s toughest, wildest event, the Patagonian Expedition Race is returning in February 2016 and will see Ben and his team take on a savagely difficult ten-day trail through the remotest parts of Chilean Patagonia. By the time they cross the finish line, they will have travelled 800 kilometres by trekking, climbing, kayaking and mountain biking. And as well as the challenges of the terrain itself, there are also local conditions to deal with.

“The weather down there is fairly extreme,” says Ben, sounding remarkably relaxed and chipper for someone a few short months away from the start. “The next stop south is Antarctica. We’ve seen accounts of previous races and some of the videos are quite horrific in terms of what people have to face. We’ve got a friend down there who’s advised us to train in gales – the wind can often be strong enough to blow you off your mountain bike.”

If this all seems at the more intense end of the outdoor spectrum, then Ben does at least have the necessary experience. Growing up in Kent, he became heavily involved in the Scout movement from a young age before becoming an Outward Bound Trust™ instructor in his twenties. He’s led mountain expeditions on four continents, as well as working in emergency humanitarian response for ShelterBox in countries like Haiti, Kenya and El Salvador. He’s also completed an operational tour of Afghanistan as a reservist.

And there is, of course, a higher purpose behind the team’s decision to head down to the ends of the earth. They’re raising money for Green Sentinels, an organisation that works to help the plight of injured service personnel, particularly those with post-traumatic stress disorder. And at the same time, all four team members will also be raising funds for their own preferred charities, namely ShelterBox, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, the Royal Marsden and Help for Heroes.

Back in the northern hemisphere, meanwhile, Ben remains a committed lover of the British outdoors. “I’ve been very fortunate to work in both Wales and the Lake District,” he says. “I’m always keen to get up to the Lakes – it’s such a beautiful part of the world. I like ridges too, so I love Snowdonia. I recently did an early-morning ascent via Crib Goch at 4am. I enjoy staying at YHA Llanberis and YHA Bryn Gwynant, and I’ve got plans to get back to YHA Pen y Pass – I can’t wait to see how it’s been redone.” If you’d like to support the team’s efforts, visit greensentinels.uk to find out more.

This article was originally published in our #LiveMoreYHA E-Zine - read the rest of the issue here!

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