Endurance athlete Ben Blowes has set his sights on a new challenge which could eclipse all his previous achievements.
The man who ran last year’s London Marathon in under six hours with a 25-kilo tumble dryer strapped to his back is now planning to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean at the end of 2019.
Gazeley-based Ben,45, first heard of the annual Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge when he competed in the BBC TV show Special Forces Ultimate Hell Week in April 2016 - reaching the quarter-finals of the series which featured athletes enduring weeks in the blistering South African heat performing tasks set by international special forces instructors.
“Another competitor had taken part in the Atlantic race as part of a pair and what he told me just stayed in my mind and I kept coming back to it,” said Ben.
“I discussed it with my wife Louise, who knows I always need a challenge, and from there I have paid a deposit to enter the 2019 event.”
Although he has never rowed in his life, Ben is confident that by the starting date of the race in December 2019, he will have the skill, knowledge, strength and stamina needed to complete the gruelling 3,100 miles from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to the Caribbean island of Antigua.
“I decided I would go for a solo effort because if you’re part of a pair, you’ve really only rowed half the Atlantic and I want to be able to say I rowed it all,” he said.
“For a solo rower, it should take around 60 days but you have to go prepared for the possibility that it could take longer,” said Ben, who will be learning about navigation, weather systems, first aid and the use of all 430 items of equipment which are on the kit list for the race.
He is currently in the market for a boat and could end up buying one of the craft currently taking part in this year’s event. The self-righting boat will be around six metres long and just less than two metres wide with a small cabin at the back which has airtight seals making it relatively safe from the waves. Everything in it, including Ben himself, will be tethered at all times to keep it secure and he will have a satellite telephone to maintain contact with race organisers and rescue services.
Ben will be gradually increasing his calorie intake to around 4,900 per day and his weightlifting, running and open water swimming schedules will also reach what might be considered punishing levels.
“I have to be big and strong to start with as I could lose a third of my body weight,” he said. “But whatever you do you can’t train to be in the middle of the ocean unless that’s where you are."
Read the full story in the Newmarket Journal, out now.