Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Event 10: London to Brighton

So to complete our double event weekend or triple event week, 
we thought we'd go for something nice and simple! Instead we 
went for the London to Brighton bike ride! 
Now for those of you who don't know what that is or live 
abroad or have just been asleep, it is exactly what it says 
it is. A cycle ride from London (Clapham Common to be precise) 
to Brighton pier. Its around 60 miles through the back roads 
from south London to the Coast.
This is an ever popular event that has been running for a 
number of years and now has around 50,000 participants. 
With that, there is a need for staggered starts. 
Sully and I were due to set off at 7.30am however after 
a sleepy start to the morning and a burst tyre on the way 
to the station, it was more like 8.30!  
Clapham Common, note Red socks and One T's!
The course is a gentle amble through the streets of South 
London where it becomes apparent that the roads aren't 
closed to other traffic! Then out into the countryside 
around the Carlshalton area! 
Along the way there are several designated stops for 
refuelling and rubbing any weary thighs, all the way to 
the dreaded Ditchling Beacon! En route we'd heard what 
looked like experienced men saying things like "its big" 
and "i won't get the whole way up". Sully and I had agreed 
to part ways and meet at the top after these comments. 
As it turns out he smoked up it barely breaking a sweat 
where as I took the more scenic route and enjoyed what 
was left of the view as the heavens had opened! 
Tommy chilling at the bottom of Ditchling Beacon
Red Socks! Hooooooooo!
From the peak it was quite literally all downhill from 
there, all the way to the sea front, where our planned 
fish and chips would be waiting for us.
Sully and I have a difference of opinion on this event. 
Sully (who cycles 100 miles a week) thought it was rather 
easy. Whereas I don't. Either way I think we both enjoyed 
ourselves and completed event 10.
A big thank you to Mr and Mrs C for picking up our bikes, 
so that we could get the train back. 
Event 10, Done
 Also a gentle reminder, we aren't just doing all these 
events for fun and our own personal pleasure. We are 
also raising money for One Difference and the great work 
that they are doing for those less fortunate in Africa! 
So if you have some spare change or a little more please 
do donate at our just giving page.  
Anything will be much appreciated.

Event 9: Race for Recovery

Sorry it has been so long since I have posted up our events. We have however 
been very busy doing events so these blogs should come thick and fast as we 
are now up to 14!  
Event 9 was essentially an army fitness test, set up for the public to try and 
to raise money for 'help for heroes'.
The set up, over at the Duke of York barracks in Chelsea was simple 2 
minutes of press ups, 2 mins of sit ups and a mile and a half run! Army 
qualification figures are 45 press ups, 60 sit ups and 10.30mins on the run!
The event is run by the current military, therefore the judges are of the 
highest nature! Sully and myself both smashed out the required level of 
press up and more, the sit ups were a little harder and we fell short there 
but only just with 54 and 56 respectively! With wobbly legs and arms we 
then started the run! Sully cruised round and came in bang on 10:30 and 
i was a minute behind him!
This event was a lot harder than it sounds and it gives credit to our boys 
and girls in the forces!
Thank you to Anna for coming to watch and support us!
Onto event 10. The london to brighton bike ride. 50 odd miles down to the coast.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Event 8: The Three Peaks Challenge

After 7 events, Tommy and I are no strangers to arriving at a start line full of apprehension and absolutely no idea what lay ahead of us. Non more so however with event 8, the three peaks challenge.

The three peaks challenge is a nationally recognized event in which the goal is to simply climb the three highest peaks in mainland UK, Ben Nevis (Scotland), Scafell Pike (England) and Snowdon (Wales), all within 24 hours.

Our good friend Olly had meticulously organized the weekend for a staggering 25 people, which required 2 mini buses and 6 drivers to share out the time behind the wheel. We were to start the clock at the base of Nevis as close to 5pm as possible, which after leaving Weybridge at 5:30am we made after a quick detour to pick some of our party up from Glasgow airport. We grabbed some supplies from a nearby Morrisons and a cheeky cheeseburger from the golden arches for morale then made our way to the start line (well…start bridge).

Full of energy and optimism, the intrepid group stood craning necks up to the peak of Nevis which disappeared into a halo of clouds. We had driven through some pretty poor weather on route, so, relieved that the weather was being kind to us we started the clock at 5:30 and stomped off which purpose, vigor and somewhat naïve confidence.

Anyone who has climb Nevis will tell you that the first hour is a baptism of fire. After 20 or so minutes the majority of the group were puffing and sweating, stopping to remove misjudged layers of clothing and the group was silent for the first time in 10 hours, nobody wanting to be the first to say “I don’t know about you but I’m knackered”. Thankfully one of the group owned up to being tired which released the pressure for everyone else to agree that it was already tougher than they expected, oh dear.

But like true soldiers everyone trudged on and mercifully the mountain eased up its gradient for a spell after an hours climbing and the mood lightened. Naturally with a large group, people went at their own pace, some relentlessly marched on ahead, some conserved energy and kept a steady pace and some needed some encouragement, which group hero Woody provided for them in spades. The temperature changed dramatically throughout the climb and people started adding layers as we climbed, occasionally popping ears and rubbing weary thighs. We were finally met by the summit which had a fair bit of snow coverage and a welcome sight to all. 
Nevis summit (no really, that's it!)
After throwing a number of high fives, taken an inordinate amount of ‘mountaineer’ posed photos (see Exhibit A) and a few refreshments, we started our way down. 

(Exhibit A)
The inexperienced among us assumed that downhill was going to be a breeze, it wasn’t, if anything the descent seemed to damage peoples legs the most. Heavy impacting steps on the knees, slipping and stumbling we made our way to the bottom, unable to take in much of the breathtaking views due to such intense concentration on negotiating a route down.

With all of the above in mind we managed to get the entire team up and down inside our predicted 4 1/2 hours, which is astonishing with such a large group of mixed fitness and ability. With broken legs and spirits, and a newly developed sense of apprehension we saddled up and set off on the 6 hour drive to Scafell Pike at around 10pm, a little behind schedule but more worried about having to climb two more mountains.

Driving through the night thanks to a good stint from our night watchmen drivers (thanks boys and girls) we arrived at the base of Scafell at 4:30am, bang on time.

Scafell Pike, although the lowest peak at just under 1000 meters, is notoriously the hardest to navigate, especially in poor weather. We were all very glad to be met by beautiful clear skies, with the sun just beginning to poke it’s head over the crest of England’s highest peak.

Now seasoned climbing professionals we all set out, all trying to hobble off the stiffness of the previous mountain and the long drive. We did unfortunately have to leave a few behind this time, my brother James had messed up his knee on Nevis and couldn’t carry on, and Jim decided to save his legs for Snowdon. The weather at the top of Scafell was incredible, the views stunning, and the feeling of being half way and on time gave the group a renewed sense of belief that we could actually do it.

At Scafell's Peak

One of the many breathtaking views
We all managed to get down inside 3 hours, with some even running the entire way down and finishing the mountain in a commendable 2 ½ hours! Some chose to stand in the crystal clear river water at the bottom, acting as a natural ice bath for the calves, and Tommy even danced his way across the finish line, apparently everyday he’s shuffling!

Joking apart, that was seriously cold!
After a quick round of high fives again we set of on the final 4 ½ hour drive to Snowdon, hearts full of spirit and determination.

13:05. Wales. Home of slate, mining, and on this day, disgusting weather. Snowdon is debatably the easiest of the three peaks although this certainly wasn’t the case for us. It almost felt like the mountain was trying to show us how lucky we had been on the previous climbs. The miner’s track has a flat start which was simple brisk stroll, followed by a 200 meter scramble, finishing in a long jagged climb to the summit. The higher we climbed, the more it rained, the more the winds blew and the worse the visibility got. So much so that at one point the group with me at the front were considering turning back as it was getting dangerous. We were not going to give up without a fight though, after all, we’d just spent the best part of 20 hours getting to this point. We all pushed on, all reached the top, no high fives, a quick click of a camera to prove ‘I was here’ and then a race down the mountain and out of the appalling conditions.

An idea of the conditions modeled by Ben and Bruce
A group of us again ran the entire way, which got pretty hairy at points as the path down was now pretty much a waterfall. The first of the group completed the final mountain with an overall time of 22hrs 28mins and 36secs, a great effort. We then sheltered in the nearby café, waiting and hoping that people got down safe and within the 24 hour deadline.

Astonishingly, every single person who was still on course for the challenge made it down within the allotted time, the last of which came in with 18 minutes to spare! Incredible!

I genuinely didn’t think we would be able to get so many of us to complete the challenge, there were so many things that could have gone wrong. It is a testament to Olly’s organization, Woody’s patience and time keeping, and the whole groups determination to get it done.

Congratulations to everyone who came, even the people who didn’t manage the official challenge broken some personal boundaries so everyone on the trip should be very proud of themselves. I salute the below list of heroes:

Olly Hickling

Tom Fraser

Andrew O’Sullivan

Ben Lakin

Max Deeley

Bruce Kingma

Andrew Lait (Meerkat!)

Laura Stephenson

George Perry 

Matt(ress) Shipley

Karen Betts

Jim Phipps

Alasdair Woodbridge

Alex Kershaw

Jacqui Kershaw
James O'Sullivan

Tom Evans

Claire Mogford

Dave Aylwood

Anne Whyte

Fred Zandona

Tia Richardson

Alix Lawson

Vicky Pinsent

I’m not sure what the end total was but I know it was over £2000 raised for Help for Heroes which is a great effort so thank you to all you donated.

Special thanks needs to go to Olly for his organization, Tia for coming along as a driver, and Woody for keeping us all in check and making sure we all got down the mountain. Legends.

Tommy and I are attempting a double event weekend this coming weekend an army test on Saturday 18th June and London to Brighton 19th June. Very exciting. 

We have also layed of the fundraising while we got into stride on our 30 challenges, but now we are approaching 10 events complete we’d like to remind you all the the One Foundation do fantastic work and are being supportive of us through this process. Please visit them at One Difference and see all the great work they are doing and then please visit our justgiving page at Donate to 30B430 anything at all is very much appreciated.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Event 7: We came, we saw, we Woolsacked!

It was a wet and windy day the last Bank holiday Monday in May, that took us to 
Gloucestershire for event 7! 
Tetbury to be precise, a small village north of Bath where once a roaring Wool 
trade ran!

This event was steeped in tradition! 400 or so years ago when the wool trade was 
rife, the young lads of the village would challenge each other to race from a pub 
at one end of the street 300 yds to another pub at the other end! The winner would 
get a date with a young lady of his choice. The race was also made harder by the 
woolsacks being 60lbs (27kgs) and the street being a 1 in 4 hill! (that's very steep).
Today the tradition is kept up, although the winner sadly no longer gets a date 
with the girl of his choice! People come from all corners to sample the market in 
the town and to line the pavement of said street and watch the days competitors 
struggle up the hill!
The band at the top of the hill
 After watching a few kids races in junior relays, sully and i were called to the 
start line! Not really sure what to expect we apprehensively made our way down 
the slope! On 3 the klaxon went and we were off pitted against a small Australian 
and a machine of a Welshman! Having said that it was fairly level pegging For the 
first 100 yds, but then the hill kicked in i started to drop back immediately but 
sully pushed on! As we got to 50 yds from the finish the Welshman bottled it and 
dropped his sack! Giving sully the chance to catch him and take second dipping 
at the line in an admirable 1:08! I then stumbled over in 4th with a 1:15!

relieved to have finished
You can watch a video of us too here: Woolsack Race Vid

A great event for number 7 and a great day i would recommend to anyone! 
Thanks to those who came to watch including my Dad and especially Mattress 
who tried to take part but was cruelly denied by some slight administration error! 
(blessing in disguise that Matthew!)

So onto event 8, the 3 peaks challenge! Bring It On!


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Event 6: Ups and Downs MTB

So event 6 reared its early morning head this weekend, unfortunately for us it was early Saturday morning which resulted in both Tommy and I having to stick our fingers in our ears on Friday night and try not to hear all of the fun the rest of the nation was having on Pimms and champagne, courtesy of Wills and Kate. Begrudgingly, we did manage to stay away from parties despite numerous invitations, and arrived on time in Dorking for the 25 miles Ups and Downs Mountain Bike Challenge, run by the guys over at UK Cycling Events & Wiggle.

Our own personal fitness seemed to be in role reversal when compared with the Bath Half. I was feeling fine but Tommy had picked up a bit of a cold, not great as cycling up hills is not what Tommy’s like best.

After a very quick registration and chipping process, we jumped on our bikes, wheeled round to the start line, and after a very quick briefing, we were off. Not many of you will know Dorking but even I didn’t realise how stunning the place is, especially when blessed with some pretty fine weather. Our first hill was one of the worst as it took you up to the top which worried us both ‘surely it’s not doing to be like this for 25 miles!

Mercifully it wasn’t, the course had some long tough climbs but some fast long downhills too, technical in some places and beautiful in many. There was even a halfway point filling station, where the organisers had put on some flapjacks (of which I probably had one too many) and some energy drinks and so-on, over looked by some cows, seemingly eating their breakfast too.

Nice little break, Gooood Flapjacks!
The second half of the ride was slightly easier than the first, although it did have the most brutal climb I have encountered on a bike, if anyone cycled up it consider my hat well and truly doffed! To put it in perspective, I had to stop 3 times up it, and I pushed my bike from the bottom!

Nice downhill section. Much fun!
Tommy was a little slower than me in this event which is understandable as he was not 100% and doesn’t have the benefit of being able to ride to work like I do, so after the first hour we’d parted. It only dawned on me while I was sat in the sun at the finish line with my free tea waiting for Tommy to finish, that I was carrying ALL of the puncture repair kit. This concern grew further as an hour ticked past and still no sign. My main concern wasn’t for T­­ommy so to speak, but the fact that had he not finished, by our rules, the event wouldn’t count!

Relaxing at the finish in my Red Socks.
Meanwhile Tommy had managed to get himself lost, missing a marker along the route and heading 2.5 miles in the wrong direction, down a rather nasty hill too.

Knowing nothing of Tommy’s added excursion, when Tommy rounded the corner just over an hour and half after me, it must have looked a little like the scene in Armageddon when the lost ship returns to the other crew-mates (only a little less epic). I was Happy that he’d made it and, and he was just happy it was over. Tommy finished in a respectable 04:43:35 and I managed it in 03:09:49 (had I not had that 4th flapjack it would have a been a gold time! Damn you flapjacks!)

Tommy rolling in!
 Tommy and I both have mixed opinions about this event. It was superbly run, I will certainly be doing more of them, as part of 30B430 or not. If you are interested in cycling, Road or MTB, then check out these guys at www.ukcyclingevents.com they don’t do much wrong. We will be doing the falling leaves event, so if you’re keen for a cycle in October sign up and we’ll see you there.

On a final note, for those of you that don't know I am attempting to win a spot on an epic adventure across Africa with Avis and Red Sock Friday. It's truly and once in a lifetime experience and although it won't count as one of our 30B430 events, it is still embracing the spirit of why we are doing this challenge, to experience things we wouldn't otherwise have done. I NEED VOTES. I am down to the last 8, and have entered a video. All 8 videos are being voted on, and the one with the most votes, wins! It's easy to vote, just sign up to www.redsockfriday.com, go to the Put Foot Rally Videos section on the right of the page and vote for my video 'SAVE ME FROM MY DESK', it's the multicoloured video with ANdrew O'Sullivan under it :). All votes will be much appreciated. THANK YOU!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Event 5: The Swimathon

Can’t really think of a witty headline for this blog so kept it simple. As some of you will have seen last week, Tommy and I took part in the Marie Curie Swimathon on Sunday. This is a great little event which involves participants attempting to swim a variety of distances, 1.5k, 2.5k or 5k. Tommy and I decided to go for the team 5k so the maths was simple, 100 lengths each, done.

As far as training went for this event, well lets just say it didn’t. Both Tommy and I used to swim a lot and were confident in being able to knock the lengths off no problems. However, having not swum a length in a fair few months this was probably a bit naïve but hey, makes it more of a challenge.
To be totally honest and uninteresting we both did pretty well, completing all 200 lengths in a little over 2 hours, no stopping, no resting, no drowning, very civilized. We collected our overly substantial medals and went on our merry way.

Ok so I know what you’re thinking, ‘there must have some bad bits’? If you remember back to our first event at the Santa fun run, I complained about the choice of sustenance supplied at the end of the race (who wants a mince pie after a run!??). This event was slightly better, granted, but I’d love to know the thinking behind offering us a cup of cordial that was so strong it made your eyes blur, and a fox’s glacier fruit sweet, which both made me feel rather ill. Another negative of the day was the waiting. Neither Tommy or I are particularly quick through the water, and sitting to count of each others lengths was pretty dull I have to say, just imagine counting to 100 in an hour!

Aside from those small things it was a good event. Tommy and I are both paying for our lack of training today as I can barely lift my arms my shoulders are so stiff and I understand Tommy is having similar repercussions. Another event down and we discovered another whilst we were at the swimming pool, more on that to follow.

I also must mention my late Nan, we were doing the Swimathon in her honor as she was an avid swimmer, and after a very fitting funeral for her on Friday, I’m sure this weekend she would have been very proud.

A bit of housekeeping. We have been neglecting the push of our sponsorship page. Even though this is a personal challenge for Tommy and I, we are raising money for children who are not as fortunate to spend their time on such petty adventures. The One Foundation do fantastic work in underprivileged communities in Africa, and any support you can give us will really help. We don’t expect people to sponsor us for every event, just the 30B430 as one big challenge. So whether you donate by taking part in an event, or through the justgiving site, it will all be much appreciated.


Thursday, 7 April 2011

The show must go on.

So it feels like an age since posting. In fact it has been a whole month with no events. We were due to be taking part in an event 3 weeks ago but we did not compete as unfortunately, my Dad's Mum passed away the day before, so things were put on hold.

I thought I would just post a little update so everyone knows what we're up to.

Ramshackle Rally is on the verge of being booked with 5, hopefully 6 drivers taking part, very exciting. Olly is doing a grand job in sorting our mamouth 3 peaks challenge in June, we're really looking forward to that. and a few other bits and bobs have been organised. Surprisingly, the event that has taken most interest has been the crazy golf tournaments. We fear that the original plan of entering the British Masters may fall by the wayside, but there are many other tournaments, the world matchplay, for example that we can take part in so watch this space.

The next event is this coming Sunday 10th April and takes the form of the annual Marie Currie Swimathon. Tommy and I will be sharing the full 5k, swimming 2.5k each (100 lengths), at Pool in the Park in Woking. On a personal note my Nan was a very keen swimmer and up until her mid 80's she was still swimming 50 lengths in the local pool, pretty impressive. So for me,  this event will be in her memory.

This will mark us making it one sixth of the way to 30, representing event No.5. A long way to go yet and over the coming summer months the event frequency is going to really step up.

Anyway, that's where we are, will post again next week after the swim.