Richard Parks – creator of the 737 Challenge and the first person to climb the highest mountain on each of the world’s 7 continents and stand on all 3 poles within 7 months.
Born in Pontypridd, Wales on 14th August 1977, Richard is a former Welsh international rugby player, earning caps against South Africa, Fiji, Scotland and Ireland. He also represented the Barbarians and Wales Sevens on the IRB world circuit and in the World Cup and played professional rugby for 13 years.
Richard was an integral part of both the Principality Cup winning Pontypridd side and the Powergen Cup winning Leeds Tykes. He also played for French side USA Perpignan and Newport Gwent Dragons.
As a back row forward, he made a name for himself as a hard, prolific tackler and support player. In May 2009 Richard was forced to retire from professional Rugby due to a career ending shoulder injury.
This brutal blow forced Richard to reassess his direction in life.
After a period of contemplation, and inspired by reading Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ book ‘Mad, bad and dangerous to know’ and a sentence from his late Grandmother’s Eulogy; ‘The horizon is only the limit of our sight’ Richard decided that he was going to confront his fears, depression, anxiety and unanswered questions by creating the 737 Challenge – A pioneering 7 month race to climb the highest mountain on each of the world’s continents and venture to the Geographical North and South Poles.
At this time, Richard had never stepped foot on a mountain. So he moved back in with his parents and spent his life savings, investing everything he owned in to a gruelling 18 months of training, preparation and expeditions to prepare for his world first challenge. With the guidance of expedition partner Jagged Globe, Richard set about acquiring a lifetime of polar and mountaineering skills to prepare himself for one of the toughest physical and mental challenges a man could undertake.
Richard started his epic 737 Challenge in December 2010 from the Pierhead building in Cardiff Bay, 100 years after the British Antarctic Expedition, led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott, departed from Cardiff Bay in the vessel SS Terra Nova.
Along the way of his 7-month expedition, he faced a host of dangers and dramas, which provided a rollercoaster ride for the Brit. Despite delays, frostbite and a perilous crevasse fall on Denali, on Tuesday 12th July 2011 Richard Parks made history completing his world first 737 Challenge in 6 months, 11 days, 7 hours and 53 minutes.
He became the first ever person to climb the highest summit on each of the world’s 7 continents and stand on all 3 poles – The North Pole, The South Pole and the summit of Everest in the same calendar year, setting a new benchmark in the climbing of the 7 summits.
Richard’s 737 Challenge proudly raised funds in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care. You can find out more about his 737 Challenge by visiting HYPERLINK "http://www.737challenge.com/" \o "737 Challenge Official webiste" \t "_blank" www.737challenge.com.
His bravery and determination was rewarded with a hero’s welcome on returning to Wales and since completing his world first and fundraising efforts in aid of Marie Curie, Richard has received many awards and recognition such as Just Giving Celebrity Fundraiser of the Year, the Rugby Writers’ Club Special Award, The ‘Chancellors Medal’ by the University of Glamorgan, an Honorary Fellowship by the University of Wales and he carried the Olympic Torch. He was also named in the top 100 most influential people in Wales and invited to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
Last year I felt very proud and privileged to be named JustGiving Celebrity Fundraiser of the year, an award given in recognition of my '737 Challenge', which raised funds in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care.