Preston football freestyler set to perform non-stop tricks on 80km charity ice trek

Posted on - 12th February, 2020 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Charities, People, Preston News
Freestyle footballer John Farnworth gets in some cold weather training at Deeside Ice Rink before he goes to Siberia in March Pic: Paul Heyes
John gets in some cold weather training at he goes to Siberia in March Pic: Paul Heyes

Preston football freestyler John Farnworth is aiming to perform non-stop ‘keepy-uppies’ in an ice crossing of the world’s largest lake, to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.


John, who presents CBBC’s Match of the Day Kickabout, is set to take on the world record attempt in early March.

The challenge will see 33-year-old John cross 80km of Lake Baikal in Siberia – the equivalent of almost two back-to-back marathons. John is expecting to perform half a million touches of the ball to keep it in the air and complete the epic record.

Lake Baikal is the oldest, largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world with temperatures that drop to minus 20 degrees and added windchill that can make it feel like minus 50 degrees. It is frozen for a short time each year, when the ice thickness varies between 0.4 metres and 1.5 metres.

Read more: James speaks of the impact of sight loss as he prepares to trek the Inca Trail for Galloways

John will attempt the challenge within a two-day time frame and will camp overnight on the ice at the halfway point. He will wear special clothing designed for sub-zero temperatures and ice spikes over his boots for added grip.

As part of his preparation, John has received coaching from polar explorer Ash Routen who has first-hand experience of tackling freezing weather conditions. John has also been practising on an indoor ice rink.

If successful, this will be John’s ninth world record title. John has previously taken on football challenges in the Sahara and up Mount Everest. He also holds records for completing the London Marathon while doing continuous kick-ups, completing freestyle football tricks at the bottom of the Red Sea, and performing a volley from a 150 foot helicopter drop.

John is raising funds for Cancer Research UK Pic Paul Heyes
John is raising funds for Cancer Research UK Pic Paul Heyes

John said: “This is going to be my toughest challenge yet. Battling sub-zero temperatures and freestyling on ice will be an experience like no other. It will be a gruelling test of endurance and stamina, but the fact that I am doing this for such a great cause will give me the motivation to make it across the ice.

“We all know somebody who has been affected by cancer and that’s why I want to use my challenge to raise money for Cancer Research UK. By raising vital funds to support research into the disease, we will bring forward the day when all cancers can be cured.”

John, who grew up in Preston playing traditional eleven-a-side, was introduced to futebol de salão at a young age, where he began to develop his unique skills. His strict training regime and dedication to the craft have led him to world records and an international fanbase.

Anna Taylor, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North West, said: “We are incredibly grateful to John for using his world record attempt as an opportunity to raise vital funds to beat cancer, a disease that affects so many.

“It’s thanks to people like John that we’re able to continue to fund world-leading research. We hope others will feel inspired by John’s effort and support our lifesaving work. We wish him all the very best as he embarks on this exciting challenge and look forward to following his journey across Lake Baikal.”

John is encouraging his fellow Prestonians to support the charity’s life-saving work by making donations on his Sub Zero Hero fundraising page.

Read more: Rosemere’s Walk in the Dark returns to Preston for 12th year

What do you think of John’s challenge? Will you be sponsoring him? Let us know in the comments.

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