Len Stanmore mixes adventure with helping others
He's about to set a world record by climbing the highest peaks on seven continents and crossing the four most inhospitable deserts. But when he added a charitable aspect to his quest he made it even more meaningful.
A comfortable early retirement left Len Stanmore wondering what comes next. He climbed to a new level of satisfaction when he began to conquer a series of athletic tests around the world, putting him on the verge of setting a world record.Skip to next paragraph
Gregory M. Lamb is a senior editor and writer.
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But he didn't really reach the summit of feeling good about himself until he connected those achievements with helping others.
The story starts when Mr. Stanmore sold his successful telecommunications business in 1998 and retired at the age of 49.
"The first year was pretty good: I played golf, I fixed everything around the house, I went on vacation.
"But then, after about a year or so, I really started feeling depressed. I didn't have any challenge in my life; there was no purpose to it."
After having lunch with a business associate who had been mountain climbing, Stanmore decided to try to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. It was the only mountain he'd ever heard of other than Mt. Everest, the highest mountain in the world, "and I knew that wasn't going to happen."
He was 50 pounds overweight, smoked cigars, seldom exercised, and didn't consider himself to be athletic. "I was not outdoorsy at all. All my friends thought I was crazy," he says. But he went in 2001 "and that was the start of my adventures."
Next week Stanmore heads to Antarctica to complete an unprecedented series of expeditions to some of the world's most remote locations. He will participate in "The Last Desert" race, a 250 kilometer (155 mile) footrace in Antarctica. When he finishes the race, which is expected to take seven days, he will become the first person in history to run across the world's four major deserts (Gobi in Asia, Sahara in Africa, Atacama in Chile, and The Last Desert in Antarctica), ski to both the North and South poles, and climb the highest peaks on each of the seven continents.
His run in Antarctica, with expected temperatures between minus 5 and minus 20 degrees F., will also raise $100,000 for the charity Trekking for Kids, which helps people combine their love of adventure and the outdoors with their desire to help those in need. TFK assists orphaned and at-risk children who live near some of the world’s most coveted adventure destinations.