A KILI PROPOSITION?
In 2008, I began planning the 3 Continents Challenge to raise money for the Queen Elizabeth Foundation. In February 2012, one year after I had started training, I was ready to embark on my third and final challenge, to reach the summit of Uhuru Peak on Mount Kilimanjaro.
London Marathon - Sunday 17 April 2011
Asics London 10k - July 2011
Burnham Beeches Half Marathon - August 2011
Surrey Spitfire 20
New York City Marathon - November 2011,
In June, through my JustGiving page, I met a beautiful lady called Teresa who later decided to join me for the final part of my challenge.
After a wonderful summer of dating, Teresa and I began our training in earnest during the winter as we prepared for the upcoming Africa trip. After months of aches and pains, a few tears and several vaccinations, we were fit, healthy and ready for the off.
We left London on 15th February and started out on our seven-day Lemosho Route climb on 17th February. We chose the slightly longer Lemosho route knowing the extra days would help us to acclimatise better. No training can prepare the body to deal with altitude, but I knew the longer we were on the mountain, the better our chance of reaching the summit.
Even after two marathons, I knew this was going to be my toughest challenge yet. Each day we walked for approximately six hours, slowly getting higher and higher. After day three, we had reached 3,840 metres and both Teresa and myself started to feel mild effects of altitude sickness. It comes on very quickly and all you want to do is stop and rest.
We managed to acclimatise but on day four, ascending to 4,550 metres, the terrain became much trickier to navigate as it changed from grassy plateaux to rocky lava ridges. I began to feel unwell again and began to worry about falling over and injuring myself. I felt ok with the height but as the terrain became steeper and more uneven, I became more and more nervous. Collaboration
I let Naiman know how I was feeling and he reassured me I was only experiencing normal symptoms of altitude and that we were a very strong group. He suggested I stop taking the malaria medication and take Ibuprofen and Diamox to help me acclimatise. Camping at 3,900 metres in temperatures around -5?C, made sleeping difficult especially with the nausea and anxiety plaguing me. However, I woke in the morning realising the only way down was up and I had to keep on going to overcome my fear. Thankfully, having the most important person in my life by my side, I knew together we would make it.
Day five was quite literally the biggest challenge I faced so far on the mountain, to climb the Great Barranco Wall, a 300 metre rock face to take us to 4,200 metres. Each step was hard and I used all my strength to help me climb. Eventually we made it and after two more days of trekking to 4,600 metres, we rested in preparation for the midnight summit climb.
Much to our delight, we reached Uhuru Peak at 6.50am on day seven. Our bodies and fitness levels were put to the test with every step of the seven-hour summit trek as the temperature dropped to a bone-chilling -12?C.
For the seven days of this gruelling trek I had been very cautiously carrying a small but precious cargo with me and as we stepped up on to Uhuru Peak, I asked Teresa to marry me. And thankfully she she said yes! This has truly been an incredible, life changing journey. I have met some amazing people and overcome disabilities some people have to suffer their entire life. It has been so rewarding to know my efforts can change someone's life for the better.
I believed in it and we did it.
The Exodus team have been superb. Everything went like clockwork and we cannot thank you enough. All the Exodus staff, both on Kilimanjaro and on safari, as well as those working at the hotels, lodges, camp sites and on Kenya Airways delivered excellent standards of customer service, making our trip not only spectacular but one we will remember for a lifetime. Our guide on Kilimanjaro, Naiman, is a very special person – a true inspiration, and without him and his more than competent team, we would never have made it. They all looked after us well beyond our expectations.