Described as the world’s psychologically and physically demanding marathon, the Baikal Ice Marathon is challenging enough for anyone. Then, when you add in blindness, the challenge is taken to a whole new level.

Paul Nicol, who is raising money for Thames Valley Air Ambulance, describes himself as ‘the crazy blind guy’. Instead of feeling hindered, he is motivated to challenge himself to the limit.

“Someone once said to me ‘When was the last time you did something for the first time?’ and that just hit home with me. Ever since then I have been determined to try new things and test myself,” said Paul.

The Ice Marathon in Siberia is a race across the frozen waters of the largest, deepest and richest fresh water lake in the world. Paul will be running the half marathon with a sighted guide, both of whom are well and truly into their training regime.

A few years back Paul reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. It was here that he decided his next challenge should be something in a cooler climate, but with temperatures dipping to an almost-unthinkable -25°C in Siberia, Paul freely admits that he is daunted by this extreme.

“I’ve always fancied doing the Ice Marathon. The uniqueness of the race in one of the world’s most beautiful corners of the world appealed to me. It will of course be a big challenge for me but it is very do-able.

“I have been busy training here but of course the ice element is a bit of unknown as I can’t find a frozen 
lake to practice on. Having said that, at least there will be no hills!”

Paul is hoping to raise £1,500 for Thames Valley Air Ambulance. He has supported the charity since finding out the service receive no government funding.

“I think the work of Thames Valley Air Ambulance is incredible and I really only see this as doing my bit to give back. Hopefully I’ll never use the service but it’s essential that the air ambulance is there to help save lives across our region.”

Paul is into his final month of preparation before he flies out to Russia to take part in perhaps the most incredible challenge of his life. If you want to support him and wish him well then you can do so by donating on his JustGiving page.