The Smeg John O’ Groats to Lands’ End Endurance Challenge
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A Tyneside Granddad and Cancer Charity Fundraiser Tony Phoenix-Morrison (AKA Tony the Fridge) is about to attempt to run 40 Marathons in 40 consecutive days along the most unforgiving roads and terrain the UK has to offer carrying a 42.5kg Smeg Fridge, all in aid of The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Tony carries the Fridge as a tribute to people who have been affected by cancer and have been or are currently battling the disease. Having lost close loved ones family members and friends over the years he has experienced first-hand how devastating this disease can be and so Tony decided dedicate his life to raising awareness and fundraising in this unique extraordinary way.
Tony first made the news nationally when he completed the 2011 Great North Run carrying the appliance, Then in August 2012 famously completed 30 Great North Runs in 30 Days and really hit the headlines when he was championed by Chris Evans and was Live on the show on several occasions mid challenge carrying the 40 Kilogram Fridge on his back.
He has continued to enter and complete over 50 road races Half & Full Marathons such as the Great South Run, Kielder and Sunderland Marathons, The Blaydon race and can be seen most weekends at various local Park Runs and even successfully completed a 12 hour treadmill challenge wearing his trusty fridge.
In April 2013 Tony significantly upped the ante and ran 67.1 miles non-stop around Newcastle’s Quayside within 24 Hours carrying a larger 42.5 Kilogram Smeg Fridge. During this Challenge he was monitored and studied by the Sports Science department of Northumbria University, and knowing Tony’s physical capabilities as well as they do we asked them for their professional opinion on The Fridge Mans chances of completing his final Sisyphus task
Dr Mick Wilkinson who is a Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at Northumbria university went on to say this....
“No doubt people will have read about and watched Eddy Izzard's 30 in 30 days for comic relief a while back and perhaps also witnessed his failed attempt to do 27 in 27 days for Nelson Mandella's time of imprisonment. Both attempts and the preparation for them were supported by some of the best sports scientists, physios, nutritionists and medics in the UK. His managed only three marathons of the 27 he attempted in his second challenge being hospitalised during his 4th with injuries to his kidneys. The kidney injury was attributed to a condition called rhabdomyolysis, which is where the protein from muscles damaged by extreme exertion impairs kidney function. the extreme exertion was attributed to the hills he climbed but more importantly had to descend. Running downhill and in fact simply landing while running creates very high forces in the leg muscles as they essentially brake the fall. it is these high forces that over a prolonged period lead to damage. On each landing, runners typically absorb loads of around 2.5 times their body mass. Add to that the mass of a 42.5kg fridge and Tony's legs will be dealing with a 300kg load one every step, and with around 56000 steps in every one of his 40 marathons, his legs and feet are going to take a real beating. There is obviously also the energy requirement of this monster challenge. With the load Tony is carrying, he is likely to expend around 5000 kcal per run plus his normal daily 2500. Eating enough food to replace that daily 7500kcal deficit will be a significant challenge as will replacing fluids. However, having supported Tony's last challenge where he ran for 24 hours, I know he takes good care of his nutritional needs and has put in a great deal of training. Nevertheless, my main concern for this challenge is if his legs will last out. While training does offer some protection against muscle damage from extreme exercise, this challenge is something else. The 3700m of ascent and descent with an effective 300kg load to absorb 224,000 times if he completes all 40 marathons, might be too much even for Tony and his iron will. With my scientist hat on, I would say his chances of successfully covering the 1050 mile distance in 40 days while carrying the fridge are not great. Nevertheless, having witnessed his last challenge first hand and seen him overcome the adversity it presented, if anyone could defy the scientific reasoning, Tony could.
Best wishes and good luck to Tony for the challenge.
Dr Mick Wilkinson
Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology
Department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
tel: 0191 243 7097
Tony concedes that The Smeg John 0’ Groats to Lands’ end Endurance Challenge may literally be “A Fridge too Far” and went on to say “I have never actually ran 2 back to back marathons with a fridge let alone 40! But my awareness and fundraising campaign is all about tackling what is thought to be Impossible and making it to the other side” “Cancer can beat you to your knees if you let it! My efforts are a tribute to the fighters and hopefully an inspiration to the sufferers not to give in” I have no doubt each day will be a fight for survival but I am ready for the challenge and fully accept the struggle and toil I am about to face”