Mark completes 230 miles of 6633 Ultra Marathon

ONE of Cornwall Air Ambulance’s most experienced paramedics has trekked 230 miles across the Arctic Circle in one of the toughest races on the planet.

Aircrew paramedic Mark Fuszard has taken part in the 6633 Arctic Ultra Marathon, and completed over 230 miles of the world's toughest, windiest and coldest endurance challenge before having to retire due to injury.

Only six athletes have ever finished the race, and only seven were left in this year's race at the point Mark had to retire.

The race starts at Eagle Plains in Canada and follows the Ice Road Truckers route up to Tuktoyaktuk at the Arctic Ocean. There are two possible races to compete in - the 120 mile trek to Fort McPherson and the 350 mile trek to Tuktoyaktuk.

Mark managed to complete the 150 mile race, but was forced to retire at the 230 mile point at Inuvik after tearing his right calf muscle.

Mark wrote on his Facebook page: "Hi everyone. Just to let you know that I have had to pull out through injury - I have ripped my right calf muscle which is preventing me from walking although I managed 20 miles on it before I had to quit. This race is absolutely brutal! They don't call it the toughest race on the planet for nothing! I am staying in Inuvik with the other broken athletes - only 7 left in from 26 starters - this race has a 95% failure rate but even so I am gutted!! Thanks for all your support."

During the race temperatures regularly fall below -35 Celsius, and with wind chill they can be as low as -90 Celsius. Mark slept in a bivvy bag when not running, and pulled all his kit – including food and clothing – behind him in a sledge.

Mark set himself a target to raise £10,000 for the Cornwall Air Ambulance, and had beaten this target before he started the race. “This is my way of supporting the charity I care so much about,” said Mark.

Mark is no stranger to fundraising challenges. In 2012 he raised over £8,000 by completing the gruelling Namib Desert Ultra Marathon, running 220 kilometres in temperatures up to 45 Celsius.

49-year-old Mark has been on the crew of Cornwall’s air ambulance helicopter since 2006, and recently completed his 2,000th mission, making him one of the most experienced aircrew paramedics in the country.