John Farnworth smashes keepy-uppie ice challenge for Cancer Research UK

Posted on - 16th March, 2020 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Charities, Preston News, Sport
John (left) took up the challenge after striking up a friendship with cancer patient AJ

A Preston football freestyler has successfully completed his latest endurance challenge and world record attempt – an ice crossing of the world’s largest and deepest lake while doing keepy-uppies every step of the way, to raise vital funds for Cancer Research UK.


John Farnworth crossed 50 miles of Siberia’s Lake Baikal in just 48 hours while juggling a football using only his feet, knees, chest and head. The only times John didn’t keep the ball in the air was when he was sleeping or taking food and toilet breaks.

Preston Weekender advert

The distance from Cape Hoboy to Ust-Barguzin is the equivalent of almost two back-to-back marathons and the 34-year-old performed nearly half a million touches of the ball to complete the epic challenge.

During the two day crossing John is also expected to have set a new world record title for the “farthest distance covered juggling a football on ice in one hour”. This is defined by Guinness World Records as keeping a football airborne by striking or balancing the ball with parts of the body except for the hands and arms. He travelled nearly 5km within the one hour time frame.

John embarked on the challenge to raise funds for Cancer Research UK after striking up a friendship with 36-year-old cancer patient AJ Foster, also from Preston, who was diagnosed with lymphoma three years ago.


John said: “This has been the toughest and most epic challenge I have ever undertaken. The freezing temperatures were absolutely gruelling, and were something that was impossible to really prepare for. It was so, so cold out there but I just had to keep focused and concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.

“Without doubt, the fact that I was doing this for such a great cause gave me the motivation to make it across the ice. Knowing what AJ has been through over the last few years has made me realise how important it is to support Cancer Research UK and help more people like him survive this disease.”

Read more: Former cancer patients to be helped with debilitating side effects of radiotherapy thanks to new Preston service

AJ said: “I am truly honoured that John has dedicated his challenge to such an important cause. I’ll never forget the moment the consultant said the two words I’d been dreading – ‘it’s cancer’. In an instant, my world caved in and I felt like I was in a living nightmare. Thankfully my cancer is now in remission and I’m living proof of why research into this disease is so important.”

To complete the challenge John wore special foot grips designed for use on the ice and giant goggles to prevent glare from the sun. He also enlisted the help of Russian locals to assist with navigation and slept overnight in the middle of the lake.

John Farnworth on his ice trek
John wore special foot grips on his challenge

The latest feat will be John’s ninth world record title. In 2019 he travelled to the Sahara where he set the record for the farthest distance covered juggling a football. And in 2018 he climbed 6,000 metres above Everest base camp while performing keepy-uppies with every step.

Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North West, Anna Taylor, 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 and we hope others across Lancashire will feel inspired by his effort and will support our lifesaving work.”

If you would like to support John, you can donate to his Sub Zero Hero fundraising page.

Read more: Inspirational couple’s generous donation after they were treated together on RPH’s major trauma unit

What a great achievement by John. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

caritas fostering advert
Preston in pictures Preston Street photographyMother & LambPreston Street photographyPreston Street photographyCosta Coffee in the Mall, PrestonViltrox Test 3Mother & LambPreston Street photography View more Advertisement Subscribe to the newsletter

Sign up below to receive Blog Preston's email newsletter. It wings its way into inboxes every Sunday and Wednesday rounding up our top stories and more.

Advertisement News by location

Find news by location, select an area of your choice to be kept up to date with the latest goings on.

The Preston Guide

Discover local businesses and services near you.

Advertisement Categories

Find news by category, select an category of your choice to be kept up to date with the latest goings on.

Blog Preston email updates

Receive our digest of the biggest and best stories every Sunday to your email inbox

We respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time from our emails