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Mt. Blanc, France – 4,807m / 15,771ft
Vo2 Max Testing and a full diagnostic medical, university of Glamorgan
Dec 2009/Jan 2010
Cotapaxi, Ecuador – 5,897m / 19,346ft
Cogne, Italy, ice climbing
Swiss Alps, polar team building
Scotland, technical climbing
Greenland, sea ice North Pole training
Denali, Alaska – 6,194m / 20,320ft
Cold Water immersion testing, University of Portsmouth
Pen y Fan & Snowdon, Wales, deprivation training
Cho Oyu, Tibet – 8,201m / 26,906ft
Richard is obviously extremely fit from having played top-class and international rugby for many years. However, mountain fitness is very different to on-field fitness.
Until July 2009, Richard had never stepped foot on a mountain. However this did not deter him from setting himself this monumental challenge. "The fact that I had never climbed a mountain before was the very reason why I decided to climb the 7 summits. you can teach a man skills, however you can’t teach a man character. Good job really, as I had a lot to learn!
"I'm very serious about the integrity of the challenge and successfully completing it. My ability to perform in the world’s most hostile environments, will not only ensure the success of the challenge but ultimately keep me alive.
"By funding the training myself and enlisting Jagged Globe’s expert guidance, I have crammed a lifetime of mountain and polar skills training into 16 months of training, and undertaken a gruelling fitness programme tailored by Kevin Morgan, former Welsh International fullback and now assistant conditioner for the Ospreys".
The University of Glamorgan will also provide the use of an altitude simulation chamber. Their support and testing, in conjunction with Richard's grueling fitness regime tailored by Kevin, will ensure that he is in optimum condition for the journey.
TRAINING FOR THE CHALLENGE
Richard’s fitness regime has consisted of a series of medical, physical tests and technical tests. From ECG, Heart Echo and maximal aerobic (VO2max) testing to deprivation training and immersion testing, making him hypothermic along the way. He’s run and cycled between 150–200 miles a week, ran half marathons and climbed Pen y Fan 7 times in 24 hours to test his skills with extreme fatigue and no sleep.
In May 2010 Richard climbed Denali in Alaska, one of his 7 Summits as a crucial training expedition.
"Climbing Denali was vital in terms of preparation. I will be at my weakest for this leg of the challenge in 2011 so I felt it important to have intimate knowledge of the route. The mountain was in the worst condition it had been for a long time due to a very cold winter and high winds scouring the upper mountain".
"We battled temperatures ranging from +28 to -30 degrees celsius, spent 7 days stuck in our tents in a storm at 4,300m /14,000ft and endured an 18 hour summit climb in zero visibility and -45 windchill conditions. However, thanks to the strong teamwork of my three man rope team, I successfully reached the summit. That May only 19% of climbers on the mountain summitted. It was an awesome experience and really valuable test of my ability to perform in extreme environments".
From September to October 2010 Richard and Steve Williams OBE completed their final major training expedition in the Himalayas. The purpose was to prepare for the Everest leg of the 737 Challenge by climbing Cho Oyu, the sixth highest mountain in the world at 8,201m/26,906ft.