Less than four weeks to go before my wonderful (is that the right word?) trip to Tanzania to attempt to conquer the highest free-standing mountain in the world: Kilimanjaro! The phrase “highest free-standing mountain” makes me chuckle; I picture Dali’s famous crutches holding Everest in place... To be honest though, I don’t care whether it’s the highest free-standing mountain in the world or the most utilised-in-product-branding mountain in the world (which I think it may be too – they even have beer called “Kilimanjaro” – how cool is that?), I only care about three things right now: Am I ready to make my best attempt to get to the summit? Have I got all my kit prepared? And, where can I get a beer from right now?
I have been a busy bee in the past couple of months. I’ve just received my passport back from VisaSwift with my, quite wonderful and official looking, visa to enter the country. I’ve been involved in PR efforts (two local newspapers and a local ezine) for young Benjamin in the hope to raise enough for his My Tobii which we’re over half way to the target of £8k, but still need some help yet. My travelling companion and good friend, Stitch, would love to get us on “This Morning”, but I think that’s going too far – especially as he has an unfair thespian advantage and I have a face made for radio and would likely be sick on Phillip Schofield from nerves! I’ve got my inoculations sorted having had more jabs than Mike Tyson’s punch bag in the last three weeks (the key one being Yellow Fever, without proof of this you can’t get into the country, or so I hear, plus Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Hepatitis A and an accelerated course of Hepatitis B) and have organised my anti-malarial drugs. I plan to beg, borrow and steal (well, “rent” actually, but that wouldn’t have sounded as good) the kit that I haven’t yet sorted out. But actually I’m pleasantly surprised about how organised I am. The most important item of all, the sturdy walking boots, are seriously worn in now. I’m so pleased with them that I’m going to wear them on the plane journey to ensure that they make it there with me; they’re the only irreplaceable bit of kit I have.
If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I, and a team of three other Explorites, embarked on a crazy challenge of walking 100km in under 30 hours across the South Downs back in July (we all walk that distance and no, there’s no sleeping or long stops but a dozen check-points where we met our exceptionally helpful, encouraging and warm-welcoming support crew who fed, watered and pampered us).
The Trailwalker Challenge was the most difficult and rewarding event I have ever participated in – more than a half-marathon that’s finished in a mere two hours, more than running in a Santa outfit with a hangover and, even, more challenging and rewarding than having my chest waxed (which, of course, is exceptionally vain and I wouldn’t dream of having it done). Seriously though, I can’t describe how good it made me feel to cross the finish line after 28 and a half hours of walking. Unfortunately we’d lost two of the troops before the end, and troopers they definitely were; the hardcore ladies both made it 91km following a punishing four hour section and were too injured (bloody/broken/blistered – delete as appropriate) to go further, but met us at the 100km mark for an exceptionally emotional finish. I would recommend this crazy event to any other crazies out there that are crazy enough to try it and potentially reap the huge rewards if/when you complete it (and even if you don’t complete it!). Kilimanjaro, I am ready for you! Nearly! Perhaps... The gymnasium is a constant thorn in my side. It costs me money every month and sits on my shoulder when I eat cakes or pies and it mocks me. It whispers my name and teases me with rewards, but I know how painful and difficult it is to earn those rewards, I’ve been there before and don’t like it. Unless I’m going to the gym and feel the rewards, then it’s fine and doesn’t feel half as bad as when I’m not going and I’m feeling guilty as hell. I need to go to the gym at least a few times in the next month just to keep my fitness level ticking over. Why can’t pies and cakes give you muscles, larger lung capacity and a better recovery rate? Cross your fingers and toes for me, say a prayer if you like, wish me luck and bon voyage. Next time I write a blog I will have, hopefully, been 5895 metres above sea level to the Uhuru Peak and conquered the ancient, snow-capped beast (acute altitude mountain sickness willing). Unfortunately conquered many times before. Conquered by many friends and colleagues that I know well. Even more unfortunate: Conquered by celebrities. Ugh. Forget all of them. This will be for me and no-one will ever be able to describe to me, as I won’t be able to describe to you, faithful readers [Hi Mum! Hi Nan!], how incredible this journey is. You’ll just have to do it for yourselves.