Q1. Which event are you training for?
Everest Basecamp Trek 22nd September – 19th October 2016
Q2. How are the preparations and training going?
Training is going well. I started training as soon as I had committed to doing the event but will ramp it up between now and September. As far as preparations go I think I am pretty much there. I have bought all of the additional kit I needed, such as a -20 sleeping bag, so I could train with the kit I will be taking. It was important to get my preparations completed early as I needed to test my kit over winter, no point is trying out my -20 sleeping bag in the summer!
Q3. What is motivating you to;
I am a pretty motivated person generally but I love being outdoors and active so getting the motivation to train isn’t really an issue. It actually gives me a good excuse to leave the housework and get outside all in the name of training.
B) do the event
This has been an event I have wanted to do forever but never thought I would be able to do it or indeed get the opportunity to do it. I remember watching a documentary about a group of people trekking to base camp when I was a teenager and thought it was amazing but not something an ordinary person could ever hope to do.
Q4. How did it come about that you’re doing this event?
Last year I set up my own business so am not longer constrained by the amount of time I can take off for holidays. The trip its self is 18 days but I really need a good 3-4 weeks so that I have time for preparation prior to leaving and a little bit of recovery when I get home. That’s the practical side of things but, more importantly, doing events for O2e over the years has taught me that actually anything is possible and even a very ordinary person like myself can aspire to achieving something that I previously thought was much too difficult. All you need is the desire to do it and, with the right preparation and training, combined with a determined mindset, you really can achieve anything you set your heart on.
Q5. Tell us more about your training.
When starting to plan my training for this event it quickly became apparent that just going out walking wasn’t going to be enough. All of the trek will be at high altitude i.e. after the first day we will be above 3,000m up to 5,545m, and there will be long ascents and descents on rough ground on a daily basis. I have therefore tried to plan activities which combine to improve my strength, cardiovascular stamina and muscle endurance as all three of these aspects will come into play. The main activities I do on a regular basis are walking, running, step aerobics, light weight training/resistance and yoga for stretching. To make thing more interesting I’ve also done some alternative activities such as gorge scrambling, which will also be helpful.
The company I booked the trek with, Charity Challenge, also run training weekends so I went along to one of those in March to get a good idea of what I need to focus on and it also gave me a good idea of what to expect and tips on kit etc.
Q6. What is going to be the toughest part of doing this event for you?
The fund raising! But in all honesty I’m not sure. I suspect it will be the altitude because even the fittest person can be struck down by altitude sickness and I have never done anything like this at high altitude before, so I don’t know how my body is going to react. Charity challenge do plan in time for acclimatization so I am certain we will be given the best opportunity to succeed. I guess dealing with the unknown will also play a part. I have done some really tough challenges in the past and it is always something you don’t expect which makes the going difficult. The one thing I have learnt from my experiences is to go with an open mind and be prepared to be flexible. Also if you have a hot spot, treat it, don’t let it turn into a blister – MASSIVE lesson learnt from the Gobi challenge!
Q7. Confident for the big day(s)?
Absolutely. You have to embark on these journeys with a positive mindset and a determination to succeed. I’m not saying it will be easy but, like anything in life, if you allow in doubt then the likelihood is you will fail. I truly believe that physical ability will only get you so far, mental strength and a positive, can do attitude gets you the rest of the way. I have come across people in the past who have taken on challenges and have been physically very able but have failed because, part way through the event, they suddenly thought weren’t able to complete it and ended up dropping out.
Q8. How have family and friends reacted to your doing this event?
Everyone has been really supportive. They are used to me doing challenges but I think this one has exceeded their expectations. Perry, my partner, has even started joining me on some of my longer training walks and is really enjoying it.
Q9. How much do you hope to raise?
I have set a target of £2,000 but I secretly hope to exceed that. I personally have found that fund raising get harder each year as more and more people are asking for sponsorship. I’m not sure what other supporters have experienced but I have found that I am having to look for different ways to raise money and giving something in return, whether it be a product or an experience, definitely seems to be the way forward. In some respects, the fund raising is actually harder that doing the event itself!
Q10. How would you like the donations from your efforts to make a difference?
I think anything that helps to support the children and their families and enhance their quality of life makes it all worthwhile. I know from experience that the funds we have raised have been very gratefully received and I am happy for the organizations to choose how they spend the money as they are the ones who know what is needed.
Q11. Do you have any fundraising ideas?
This year I have had some O2e buffs printed. I have asked that if anyone would like a buff that they sponsor me on my Just Giving page and I will send them a buff. I also intend doing a car boot sale, a couple of cake sales/coffee mornings and all proceeds will go to O2e. I also thought it would be fun to do an O2e 2017 calendar. We could make it into a competition where people submit their best challenge photos and we could have a vote for the final selection. If we do this early enough we could then have the calendars ready to buy at the annual dinner in November.
Q12. What is it about O2e that resonates with you?
It is the whole ethos of the charity. I know how difficult it is to cope with either poorly or disabled children and being able to provide some degree of support to those organizations providing care to the children and their families is humbling. At the same it makes you reassess your own life and provides a reason for you to step outside of your comfort zone to help do something for others. By doing fundraising challenges O2e has given me something very precious in return – self-confidence. Along the way I have made some remarkable achievements, things I never dreamed I could even attempt, let along do and I have met some amazing, inspirational people, all while raising much needed funds.
Q13. What type of event would really get you out of your comfort zone?
I can say with absolute certainty that every single challenge I have embarked on has taken me out of my comfort zone one way or another, and that doesn’t necessarily mean just in a physical sense. The most difficult challenge I have done so far was the Gobi Desert Challenge; that took me to my limits in every imaginable way. What I learned there was you think you know what your limits are but in reality you can go a lot further than you ever believed.
The Everest Basecamp challenge is going to test me once again. I don’t know anyone yet who is going on the trip so I will be faced with daily challenges without someone who really knows me to provide support and motivation. I don’t know how my body will react to the altitude, what the terrain will actually be like or what the weather conditions will be, plus the facilities are going to be very basic. I am, however, absolutely determined to complete this challenge and I know I will come home with a wonderful sense of achievement, a head full of memories and, if previous trips are anything to go by, some amazing new friends.
Q14. Do you have any suggestions of how we could evolve O2e and what would you like to see more of?
I fully believe in the whole ethos of the charity and think the best way to evolve O2e is to attract a wider group of supporters, whilst keeping current supporters engaged . Perhaps by doing what you are doing with the Spotlight and personalizing the supporters and demonstrating how and why other get involved, it will assist with this. Not everyone has the time or confidence to pursue their own fund raising challenges so I think it would be great to do more team events, whether it be actual team fundraising events or training events for people doing similar types of challenges. It is great going off and doing your own thing but one of the most enjoyable aspects is the journey up to the event itself. The training and motivation you get from others is all part of that process. That might be a way to slowly immerse new people into O2e, without them having to commit to arranging something themselves.
Q15. Finally, what advice do you have for any would-be O2eer?
Take the first step. We are all capable of far more than we imagine and generally the biggest constraints we face are those in our own minds. If you believe it might be possible, it will be.
Everyone’s challenges are different so don’t be put off by some of the more extreme challenges people are doing. To someone who has never run before completing a 5k race is a fantastic achievement, it’s all relative.