SARAH SINGLETON chats to a man who, at 68, is training to run the Polar Circle Marathon

POET Maurice Spillane is taking part in what is certainly the coolest race in the world – the Polar Circle Marathon.

Maurice, from Liddington, will be braving ice, snow and temperatures of minus-15C to minus-25C to attempt this extreme physical challenge. He travelled to Kangerlussuaq in Greenland for the race at the weekend, in the dramatic and demanding polar landscape.

The course will take him past glaciers and across the Arctic desert, with part of the route on the ice cap itself. Only 200 people can take part, and there will be no spectators.

“Last Christmas I thought, I am soon going to be 68 soon, and I’ve got about 12 years before I’m 80, and maybe my ankles or knees will go, so I thought I would like to run in a country I had never been too before, for the challenge.

“I am raising money for charity – for the Eve Appeal, which has its focus on the research and prevention of five gynaecological cancers. I have five sisters and four daughters, and these cancers have only a 42 per cent survival rate,” he said.

Maurice, who also has seven grandchildren, said he was blown away by the terrible statistics and lack of progress around these gynaecological cancers and was determined to support the Eve Appeal. “The survival rates haven’t improved since 1970,” he said.

The race in such extreme temperatures will require special clothes and running shoes.

“You have to wear two layers of trousers and three layers on the top, and two pairs of gloves, and bandanas to breathe through. If it gets to minus-35C, you are in danger of frost bite,” he explained.

He will wear shoes with a cover to keep out the snow and ice, and special soles that stick to the slippery surface.

Maurice was born in Dublin, and has worked in Ireland, England, Zambia and the United States. He was an early innovator in the software scene and started his first company, RTS, in 1980. He went on to win several business awards, including the American Express Marketing Award.

RTS was sold to an American company in 1986, and he worked with them for three years before founding the next of several entrepreneurial enterprises. These days he mentors internet entrepreneurs.

And when he is neither steering entrepreneurs to success, nor running marathons, Maurice is a successful poet.

He has published three collections of poetry, beginning with Love and Other Distractions in 2004, then Among Friends in 2007, and most recently, The Game Parade, in 2016. The proceeds of The Game Parade will also be donated to the Eve Appeal.

“I’ve been writing poetry for a long time. I got stuck into it in my late teens, and then started working on it again seriously in my 40s. It’s a way of expressing yourself, and gathering events and people, and seeing them in different situations. I write about people a lot.”

Maurice is training hard, running 35 to 40 miles a week in preparation for the marathon. He has been running since his school days and has taken part in about 10 marathons already.

He said his wife Fiona thinks he is crazy, but she is supportive of his mission. The words ‘bonkers’, ‘crazy’ and ‘mad’ also crop up in the comments from his sponsors on his Justgiving page – but Maurice is cheerfully determined to meet the challenge.

And once the Polar Circle Marathon is achieved, Maurice has no plans to rest on his laurels: he is sketching out some future marathons – Bhutan in 2018 and Petra in 2019.

For more information about Maurice’s books, visit To sponsor him in the race, visit