Pre- August 2006
Why ? Are you Mad ?
is one of the more common reactions I get from friends, colleagues and family when I casually mention I'm off to the Arctic on a race to the Magnetic North Pole. To some, it literally is the last place on earth they would like to visit let alone spend a month camping and racing in sub-zero temperatures. Having said that , they are rather used to me setting off an adventure holidays or taking part in challenges eg trekking to Kilimanjaro, climbing in the Andes, the 3 Peaks Challenge, London to Paris Bike Ride and most recently the London Marathon and Everest Base Camp.
I've always been drawn to adventure and challenges. For the most part, my enjoyment is in the pre-event build up and the post-event sense-of-achievement not forgetting those endorphins that kick around for months afterwards. Some of these challenges were not always enjoyable in the present moment and some have pushed me seemingly to the limits of my physical and mental endurance. I remember making a "mental note to self" in the Ecuadorian Andes to never again go up a mountain above 5000m after my 12 hours of hell (cold, nausea, thirst, headaches, tiredness and breathlessness). My memory must be short as I have done so several times since !!
To some, these previous challenges may seem like childs play in comparison to what I am about to undertake. I am under no illusion that this will be my toughest challenge yet and as a result have moments where like some of my friends and family , I question my sanity and become anxious about the more risky aspects of the trip but for the most part I'm very excited , determined and committed to the training that comes with a challenge of this kind.
I have read and enjoyed many books about Polar adventurers and explorers such as Shackleton, Scott, Amundsen, Ralph Fiennes and Pen Hadow . I never however saw myself going anywhere near the Arctic let alone man-hauling a sledge to one of the Poles. Our event is fully supported and comes nowhere near the hardships these men undertook . I'm hoping however that it will provide a more vivid incite into some of their experiences rather than reading about it from the comfort of my warm bed !
Earlier in the year I attended the "One Life" exhibition in Kensington Olympia (an exhibition promoting life changing experiences ) . I walked past a stall with a banner headed "Polar Challenge" . I was intrigued. On further inquiry I was surprised to find that this wasn't necessarily for the commandos and tougher adventurers of this world but was targetted at lay but active and determined people like myself. The seed of temptation had been planted. A few months later, with some "mid-life" questions answered, I knew I had to sign up.
Running in London Marathon
Winter Mountaineering in Scotland
Arrival at Everest Base Camp
Mountaineering in the Andes
Gabrielle Finn - Polar Challenge 2007