Yippee! More Cash Accrued!

Willie, Fraser, Graeme and Karen work hard (and make fools of themselves) to collect more cash on the final Terrenus H4H event of 2012.

Yesterday saw the final event in our year-long fundraising efforts on behalf of Help for Heroes. As a way of wrapping up I thought it would be a good idea to catch the Christmas shoppers (wrapping – Christmas – geddit? Oh, never mind) as they shopped ’til they dropped at East Kilbride Shopping Centre. I thought repeating our January spinfit challenge in the heat of the shopping centre would allow us to maximise the funds collected by publicising, in particular, the Four Peaks Challenge.

The day got off to a potentially sticky start as the spin bikes, arranged by Mark Wilson at the Dollan Aqua Centre and provided by South Lanarkshire Council, wouldn’t fit into the van that I had organised to transport them to the site of the challenge. After some hasty ‘phone calls by Mark and the Dollan staff other bikes were sourced from another centre and we promptly nipped over to collect them, assisted by another van that SLC had kindly sent out to help. It was with some relief that we got to the venue in plenty of time to set up.

The event itself was more of a publicity exercise rather than an out and out challenge, although 6 hours on a spinfit bike, no matter how little you are pushing, certainly provides a bit of a workout. That was the case for all of us, including our friends Graeme and Karen who joined us to boost our numbers and make the whole thing more obvious (both helped in the original 200 mile spinfit challenge back in January). We were also helped by our families who came down and rattled cans and gave out stickers and H4H wristbands as the shoppers came past.

The donations came thick and fast, with many generous contributions and kind words. One donation in particular sticks in the mind; a lady walked up with her young grand-daughter and proceeded to take four bags of coins out of her pocket. The money was her grand-daughters pocket money that she had saved with the intention of donating it to Help for Heroes. When they saw us at the town centre they went home to pick up the money and bring it in to us. Just one of many acts of kindness on the day.

By the end of the day we had collected the princely sum of £1,039.99 to add to our previous total of £6584.39, making a current total of £7624.38, with some cash still to be collected and counted. Can we reach £8,000 before the books close? It might be a slightly big ask now but I have my fingers crossed.

I have a few people to thank for help in organising and running this event, they are:

Fiona Young and the staff at East Kilbride Shopping Centre, for providing the space and helping us set up on the day.

Mark Wilson and the staff at the Dollan Aqua Centre, The Ally McCoist Sports Centre and the John Wright Sports Centre for providing the equipment we needed and standing by with other equipment should it be required.

The un-named guys in the van from South Lanarkshire Council who helped us transport the spinfit bikes.

Mike Stark of RPL Media for editing our Four Peaks Video and providing the equipment to display it.

My brothers Lyall and Frank for providing and driving the van to transfer the bikes around East Kilbride.

Graeme and Karen, friends from my fitness classes who have provided support throughout the year and have taken part in a couple of the events.

The Duff and Hume Families and my daughter’s friend, Natalie, for helping with the collections and counting the money.

Last, but not least, the people of East Kilbride for their generosity and encouragement on the day. Your donations go to a very fine cause indeed.

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Snowdon and the Poo Bag

The view down the Miner’s Path

This story is inspired by a donation that was received today from Stephen and Joyce Childs, a couple we met on the descent from Snowdon via the Miner’s Path to Pen-Y-Pass.

As we came down the path we noticed a man scrambling about on his hands and knees on the steep slope below the path and a short distance in front of us. A lady was standing at the top of the slope looking down at him and shaking her head. This couple turned out to be Stephen and Joyce.

Anyway, we wondered if Stephen had slipped or fallen and was trying to make his way back up the slope, so we asked if he needed help and were surprised to find, despite his exertions, that he was having a good little laugh to himself. Joyce just muttered the words “Oh, leave him alone, he’s just an idiot”! She then proceeded to explain that he had gone in chase of a poo bag they were carrying for their Labrador that had got caught in the wind and blown away from them. Stephen, good citizen that he is, insisted on this despite being advised that it was biodegradable anyway. “He was an idiot when we got married and he’s still and idiot now” Joyce proclaimed.

Meanwhile, Stephen, chuckling away had almost made it to the top of the slope when he noticed a discarded plastic bottle and he decided to pick it up as well. He picked it up, threw it upwards where it was caught by the wind and blown back down again. After another scramble he got the bottle a second time and he threw it up onto the path, successfully this time. The Labrador (remember him?) had different ideas. He liked the bottle so much that he also picked it up and threw it back down to Stephen who was, by now, near the top of the slope. As the bottle bounced downwards I think Stephen had decided he had had enough of being a good citizen .

We had a wee chat about their day out and what we were doing and Stephen asked how they could donate. I mentioned to google “terrenush4h” and the should find us that way.

I never forgot the meeting and it has been one that’s been told a few times since we returned. I had forgotten Stephen and Joyce’s offer to donate but I’m grateful they didn’t.

Stephen and Joyce, thanks for your generous donation and thanks also for providing more memorable  minutes to what turned out to be a great day.

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Fame at Last?

Two faces made for the radio

Unfortunately we have not been picked up by the major media outlets (with the exception of Willie’s two interviews on Smooth Radio) and I put that down to naivety on my part.  It was me that organised most of these events including the publicity for them, although latterly with the help of John McLean of the Southside Press when we finally did get a little traction. Basically, I didn’t know what I was doing, I left it too late and I failed to get a a good head of steam up in the national press and media. Lesson learned, and if I ever tackle something like this again (?) I would do things differently.

Some of these lessons came out during the course of the various challenges and another was mentioned to me today by Mike Stark of RPL Media, who is organising the videos of the Four Peaks Challenge for release on-line and as an information source for our upcoming spin challenge in East Kilbride Shopping Centre. Mike suggested that, in hindsight, it might have been a good idea to release more polished videos after each challenge; nothing long or complicated, just a short two or three minute summary of each event. This would certainly have built a strong story-line and, possibly, have hooked the attention of Media. Oh well, no going back now but what other forward planning can we do to help raise the profile of the one remaining challenge?

Mike made another suggestion this morning and it’s one that I very much like. He suggested that a third video is made, which will provide a documentary of the Four Peaks Challenge, with interviews and videos taken en-route, all tied together with a summary of what we did, when we did it and what we achieved. I would like to think of it as a record of the event but also a source of information and inspiration for others planning a similar event. We have the basic material for this and I think Mike will do a very good job of putting it all together, so what we are proposing to do is have it made and offer it for sale on DVD, with all proceeds going to Help for Heroes.

Maybe it will bomb but it’s got to be worth the effort. And watch this space for the short edit which should be up within a week or two.

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Back Down to Earth

Back to full strength or camp as a row of tents?

No, I’m not talking about work, I’m talking about exercising and training again.

Having got over my initial fatigue after completing the Four Peaks Challenge I decided that a return to fitness classes would be appropriate in the middle of last week, a full 9 days after we came off Ben Nevis, so I booked myself into Bodycombat and spinfit classes on Wednesday and Thursday night. As is my usual practice, I set off on the treadmill before Bodycombat to run a swift 5km, expecting to at least equal my usual 24 minute pace and, maybe, to beat it given that both Willie and I noticeably felt stronger and fitter by the end of the Four Peaks. How wrong I was! After 3km at my usual pace I was out of breath and had heavy legs and by 4km I had decided to pack it in.

Never mind, I thought, must just be a sign of needing a good warm up, which the run would have provided. Besides, finishing early gave me longer to recover before the Combat class. I entered at the beginning of the class and was roundly applauded when Mary, the instructor, announced my return and said how amazing it was that the Four Peaks had been completed. I blushed my thanks to the class and we all set off on the new Combat routine, me rather nervously after my performance on the treadmill.

My nervousness turned out to be well-founded. My legs and lungs simply struggled to keep up with a routine that I would normally sail through and I slunk out of the class about 2/3 rds of the way through.

I was surprised to find that I had no obvious discomfort the next morning as I set off to my appointment with the Chiropractor, who is also a sports adviser and injury specialist. When I told him what I had done I was roundly told off, being advised that it was far too early but, having started I should maybe try two classes next week, instead of my usual four. While he was doing this it was worth noting that he was “treating” my thigh muscles while I rediscovered the meaning of pain. Needless to say I cancelled the Spinfit class that was booked for that night.

After the weekend I returned to Spinfit last night to a class that is also taken by Mary. Once again she announced my return to a round of applause and even dedicated two tracks to me “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” and “I Need A Hero”.  I thanked her and the Class but pointed out that the real hero was Alistair, our inspiration behind the whole Help for Heroes set of challenges. At least I lasted the distance this time and even felt back to strength, maybe confirmed by the fact that Mary thought it a good idea to have me doing a standing sprint on my own for what seemed like ages!

Game on and roll on the next (and final) Challenge.

 

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Head, Shoulders, Knees and ………Toes?

As the days pass since the completion of the Four Peaks Challenge I’m happy to report that we are pretty much recovered.

If I’m honest I would have to saythat I felt a bit mentally flat afterwards. After the months of preparation and then the effort of completing the Challenge I was sore in many places (although, oddly enough, not my toes) but fatigue seemed to be my biggest problem. This lasted for a good few days and didn’t really clear up until last weekend, when I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days away at the caravan in Gatehouse of Fleet with Sheona and the dogs. Utterly relaxing and enjoyable and I came back clear headed (well, as much as I usually am) and awake.

As for the aches and pains, these mostly faded over the first few days after we finished, including the shoulder and neck pain and the, ahem, abrasion injuries (isn’t Sudocream wonderful). My neck and shoulders have always given me problems on a bike and I guess the effort of cycling into the wind in Ireland really brought it on. My left shoulder still gets stiff, but I’m sure I’ll be able to sort that out with some minimal treatment. As for the squint,? Well, that’s also cleared up and I now don’t look like some half-crazed drunk (?). The real test will come tonight when I return to exercise in the form of a 5k treadmill run followed by a combat class. If I survive both of those I’ll be very happy.

The one ongoing problem is the pain from Willie’s knee. This still comes and goes and there is some concern that he may have done some long-term cartilage damage. He has been offered treatment by Dr Wesley Trouse of Glasgow Chiropractic, who is also a sports injury specialist, and has very kindly offered to straighten us out. We’ll see what comes of that but we all hope the knee will recover over time. Other than that Willie is fit to go and ready for the final challenge (of which more soon). But if I could ask just one question; given that we will be doing the final challenge in a busy shopping centre in the run-up to Christmas, should Willie shave his legs so that he doesn’t put the shoppers off their Christmas turkey?

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Filling the Gaps

Now that we have returned home I can take a little time to ponder the blog and my first impression is that there are huge gaps in the timeline and in the number of images and videos provided. I have to say that Facebook was a much easier tool to use from this point of view but even it was stymied by the simple absence of a 3g signal and/or wifi in some areas. The question is, what can I do about it.

Clearly I can’t backtrack and fill in the gaps, so I have decided that I will write a continuous blog for each day and supplement the postings with videos and photographs taken as we went along. I would like to think that this will provide a permanent record of the Alistair Spearing Four Peaks Challenge and maybe even an advisory service for those thinking of undertaking similar challenges. After all, we did make mistakes, both in the planning and execution, which meant we had to adapt and compromise in order to complete the Challenge within a reasonable timescale and in relatively good health.

Anyway, we are back now having completed almost all that we set out to do (the failure to summit on Scaffel Pike still irks) and within touching distance of our fundraising target. I have one more event in mind that will put a full-stop on the end of the fundraising year and this will be announced very shortly when the final arrangements have been put in place.In the meantime watch this blog for the diary pages. They may take me a few days but I feel they need to be written.

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On the Summit of the Ben

After a few days of radio silence, for which I can only apologise, I can confirm that Willie and I completed the Four Peaks Challenge by reaching the summit of Ben Nevis at around 4.30pm today.

We are delighted and not a little tired after the last ten days, which culminated today in a 50 mile ride from Inveroran and then a 3 hour climb to the Summit of the Ben. The climb up the Ben is incessant and we had pleasantly dry and cool conditions to start with. The conditions near the summit were much poorer, with a biting wind, a low temparature, cloud and snow.

Needless to say we didn’t linger and were back in Glen Nevis and at the Youth Hostel at around 6.15 pm. We now can’t stand without shaking legs, which probably makes us look a lot older than we actually are.

With the Challenge completed we would like to pass our best wishes on to Alistair Spearing, our inspiration for organsing the Challenge, and wish him well for the future. We would also like to thank all those who have helped us along the way, of whom more in due course, and all individual and organisations who have donated to Help for Heroes.

Since I am typing this from the SYHA Hostel in Glen Nevis, on which my time is running out, I will leave this just now. I will post a fuller blog of our travels with photographs and videos over the coming days, so please watch this space.

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