Richard Parks (United Kingdom)
Richard David Parks (born 14 August 1977) is a former Wales international rugby union player turned Extreme Environment Athlete.
Richard now spends his life taking on expeditions and challenges, which push the boundaries of human performance.
As a professional rugby player and back row forward, Richard made a name for himself as a hard and prolific tackler, representing Wales and The Barbarians. During his professional career spanning 13 years, he played for Pontypridd, Leeds, Perpignan and Newport Gwent Dragons. He won the Principality Cup with Pontypridd and The Powergen Cup with Leeds.
Following his forced retirement from rugby, Richard made history twice with two incredible feats of endurance;the first ever 737 Challenge, during which in July 2011 he became the first ever person to climb the highest mountain 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) within 7 months. In January 2014 he became the first Welshman, and the fastest ever Brit to ski solo, unsupported and unassisted to the South Pole.
Utilising both his commercial and performance experience, Richard proudly serves his country as a Sport Wales board member.
LIFE AFTER RUGBY
This brutal blow forced Richard to reassess his direction in life. Lying in bed following his second operation to repair his shoulder and whilst reading Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ book, Richard’s imagination was captured by the mental, physical and technical challenges of performance in extreme environments. This somehow became intertwined with a phrase from his Nan’s funeral “The horizon is only the limit of our sight”. With the courage and inspiration to pick himself up, channelling his energy into something positive, Richard discovered the 7 summits; The highest mountain on each of the world’s continents.
Immediately as he had learned of them, he had decided that he was going to climb them.
Alongside mountaineering expedition world leaders Jagged Globe, Richard developed the idea of a new world first challenge – The 737 Challenge.
Using his life savings, insurance policy and selling many of his belongings, Richard funded over 18 months of training and expeditions in order to prepare for his world first challenge. He spent almost 10 of these 18 months actually in a tent on an expedition amassing the experience and skill sets required to not just complete the project, but to complete it safely and with integrity.
Through this development period, Richard met many people and companies that would play vital cogs in the project, some forming his 737 Challenge Team. He is incredibly grateful to so many for their support, belief and friendship.
Richard Park’s 737 Challenge was a pioneering 7 month race to climb the highest mountain on each of the world’s continents and stand on all 3 poles (the North Pole, the South Pole and the summit of Everest, which is widely regarded as the world’s 3rd pole).
In December 2010, after 18 months of gruelling training and preparation, Richard began his bid to complete his 737 Challenge.
He left Cardiff, UK on 12th December 2010, 100 years after Robert Falcon Scott’s 1910 Terra Nova expedition set sail from Cardiff.
Richard was joined on parts of his 7 month expedition by Olympic rower Steve Williams OBE and Marie Curie nurse Jan Suart.
On Tuesday 12th July 2011 Richard Parks made history becoming the first ever person to climb the highest mountain 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) within 7 months.
His record setting 737 Challenge was completed in 6 months, 11 days, 7 hours and 53 minutes and raised over £320,000 in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care, created £63 million opportunities to see (the number of times people read, watched or heard about the challenge) and culminated in a BBC Wales four-part documentary (which has since been sold worldwide). The 737 Challenge produced the advertising value equivalent of a campaign worth over £3m to Marie Curie.