Fiendishly simple, yet brutally hard, Everesting is the most difficult climbing challenge in the world.”
Okay, that is probably a bit of an exaggeration, but when trying to come with ideas for fundraising it was something that struck me as being worthy of a few pounds for charity.
At the start of lockdown I was awarded a charity entry to Norseman which is an extreme triathlon held every year in Norway. The race is the same distance as a regular iron-distance triathlon but with an elevation gain of 5,235m. The day starts with a 5am jump from the back of a car ferry into a cold, dark fjord and a 3.8km swim to shore.
Then it's onto the bike for a 180km ride that starts with 40km of steady climbing to log the first 1,200m of climbing followed by many lumps and bumps resulting in a total elevation of 3,435m. The first 25km of the run are nice and flat before the road turns up to cover 1,800m of vertical elevation over the last 17km to an off-road, mountain-top finish.
In exchange for the privilege of being able to compete in this race, having missed out in the ballot for three years in a row, the race sponsor Zalaris set the lofty target of raising £7,500 for the charity Move which supports young people living with and beyond cancer by helping them to get active. The current evidence base for cancer survivorship strongly advocates participation in physical activity, with the National Cancer Survivorship Initiative stating that there is: "persuasive evidence that a healthy lifestyle during and after cancer is associated with improved physical and psychological well-being".
I'm a firm believer in exercise as a tool for health and well being and I think that the charity is doing brilliant and interesting work. With the race postponed until next year due to the other big C and the charity missing out on lots of fundraising opportunities throughout the year I still have to raise the money before Christmas to keep my race entry. And so was born the idea to Everest Swain's Lane.
The concept of Everesting is simple: pick any hill, anywhere in the world and complete repeats of it in a single activity until you climb 8,848m – the equivalent height of Mt Everest. I chose Swain's Lane because during lockdown I rode a lot of laps on it and also because I think it will be really bloody hard! The Lane in Highgate is well known among London cyclists and with a kick of around 18% it's not an easy mound to ascend although it is nice and short at only 900m long; nice if you're doing it once, not so nice if you're Everesting. All up, the effort will require 131 laps, around 310km of riding over roughly 18-22 hours.
Six men have completed this challenge but from what I can find online no women have done so yet - or at least they haven't been recorded in the Everesting "Hall of Fame".
I will start cycling at 10pm this Saturday, 26th September outside Gail's bakery. I'll be cycling through the night to take advantage of the quieter roads and to try to ensure I am finished before it gets dark again on Sunday. I'm aiming for a 6pm finish on Sunday evening but who knows what will happen?! With London heading for a possible lockdown and so much uncertainty surrounding movements it's even hard to know what the situation will be on Sunday but if you're nearby and fancy a few laps or just to stand on the road and cheer me on/roar abuse at me please do! If it's still allowed we will have snacks and pizza available in exchange for donations but keep an eye on my instagram for updates.
Again - why?!
Writing this post has, quite frankly, scared the bejeesus out of me as I've had to double check all the stats and numbers and now I'm actually quite frightened. However, I chose the task in order to gain maximum exposure for the charity and to raise as much money as possible so please, if you can, donate at this link and if you can't make it to Swain's Lane on Sunday then I hope to see you on the bike sometime soon.
PS If I don't manage to raise all of the money with this event then I'm going to have to do a really long run and no-one wants to see a fellow cyclist suffer through that so please give generously!