A CHARITABLE explorer from Northwich is gearing up to race 350 miles across the Arctic to raise funds for two worthwhile causes.

Paul Cawley, of Kingsway, will battle temperatures of minus 40 degrees when he sets off on the gruelling 6633 Ultra challenge next week.

The 51-year-old, who completed a similar challenge in the Sahara Desert two years ago, hopes to be one of just a handful of people to complete the ultra marathon, while at the same time raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support and The Children’s Adventure Farm Trust (CAFT).

Paul said: “After doing the Sahara Desert challenge I decided that, because I don’t like the heat, it would be quite good to do something at the other extreme so this time I am competing in an event that will be in extremely cold conditions.

“A lot of people ask what 6633 means – it’s the latitude in degrees and minutes of the Arctic Circle.”

Paul, a social worker at Cheshire East Council, will have just eight days to complete the challenge and will be expected to carry or pull sleds containing all the provisions he will need for the race, including food, cooking items, clothing and sleeping gear.

Checkpoints will be spaced along the route at between 26 and 70 miles apart, where racers will be able to rest and prepare their own food, but hot water and shelter are the only things guaranteed at the checkpoints.

“It is flipping tough,” said Paul, “Many of the racers who participated in the first five editions of the race had previously competed in other winter races but without exception they all found this to be by far and away the toughest even they have taken part in.

“As a result, only seven athletes on foot have so far managed to complete the 350 mile race.”

The father-of-one added: “While I am completing this event for my personal masochistic pleasure, I would also like to raise some money for two charities that mean a lot to me – Macmillan and CAFT.

“To be honest I haven’t set a target because it’s something I wanted to do and I just want to raise as much as possible to help the two causes – there’s no ultimate figure.”

If you would like to make a donation, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ultra