Lifesaving Paramedic Takes on Challenge of a Lifetime

ONE OF Cornwall Air Ambulance’s most experienced paramedics is preparing to push himself to the limit in one of the toughest races on the planet.

Aircrew paramedic Mark Fuszard is in the final stages of his preparation for the 6633 Arctic Ultra Marathon which will see him walk 350 miles unsupported across the Arctic Circle. The race is known as the toughest, windiest and coldest endurance challenge in the world, and only six athletes have ever finished.

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.

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.

Now Mark is ready to swap the heat of the desert for the extreme cold of the Arctic Circle.

“The Namib Challenge was tough, but this is the real thing”, said Mark. “It’s a bit like walking from Cornwall to Carlisle in a freezer. The other crew think I’m completely nuts – and to be honest some days I agree!”

The race starts at Eagle Plains in Canada and follows the Ice Road Truckers route up to Tuktoyaktuk at the Arctic Ocean, trekking through the area affectionately known as Hurricane Alley along the way.

Temperatures regularly fall below -35 Celsius, and with wind chill they can be as low as -90 Celsius. Mark will be sleeping in a bivvy bag when not running, and will be pulling all his kit – including food and clothing – behind him in a sledge. Despite this, he will have to average at least 45 miles every day in order to finish.

The race is not just about physical fitness, and Mark believes his experience and training on the Cornwall Air Ambulance will be good preparation for the mental challenge of the expedition.

“When we’re out on a mission, we have to expect the unexpected and deal with it,” explained Mark. “As this challenge is totally unsupported, I will have to work through any situation that arises the best I can.”

Mark is hoping to raise over £10,000 for the Cornwall Air Ambulance, which will fund several potentially lifesaving missions. “This is my way of supporting the charity I care so much about,” said Mark.