When I was a baby my parents noticed I had a problem with crawling. They discovered I had a disability to my pelvic bones. With treatment and as I grew, the disability was corrected. I have been able to live an active life and enjoy physical exercise.
Being a keen keep fit enthusiast, I decided a couple of years ago to set myself a challenge so I could help someone who was less fortunate than myself. The challenge is called the 3 Continents Challenge because I will run 2 marathons, London, (Europe), New York, (USA) and climb Kilimanjaro, (Africa). My goal to do all three in 1 year (April 2011 - March 2012).
I work in the hospitality industry and at a lunch event in 2010 I met organisers from The Queen Elizabeth's Foundation for Disabled People. I was deeply moved by the work they do and decided I would like to use my challenge to raise money for this charity. The charities work is very special to me because I once had a disability which I had to overcome. The QEF provide Residential Care, Independant Living Services to help disabled people develop practical life skills, Mobility Services, Neuro Rehabilitation Services and Vocational Service to provide training/retraining.
The QEF enables and supports disabled people living with physical and learning disabilities to increase independence, improve life skills and to achieve their goals for life.
The money I raise will be used to build a new development for Vocational Services providing more facilities for training/retraining.
I completed The Virgin London Marathon on Sunday 17 April 2011 in 4 hours, 49 minutes and 29 seconds. It was a great day although it was very hot by lunch time and the last 6 miles was tough for everybody. I am delighted with my finish time, I ran the whole way, met some amazing people and had a fantastic day.
I completed The Ing New York City Marathon on Sunday 6 November 2011 in 4 hours, 13 minutes. Not only did I beat my London time but I ran the race of my life. 6 weeks before New York I hurt my leg running a local half marathon in Windsor. I had been running well and on target for a 1 hour, 35 minute finish. At 10 miles I hurt my leg and walked the last 3 miles. I was in tears but I remembered why I was doing this challenge and I decided I would still go to New York whatever happens. I knew I had the determination and I was not going to let anyone down, especially the people who have inspired me at QEF. I started a 6 week course of physio and training. Fortunately I was not injured but I could not run. So I did cross training and cycling. I also stretched like I had never done before and learned some great new techniques. I knew I had to run again before New York. As 6 November moved closed I was realising I was facing the biggest battle of my life. A battle some people face every single day of their lives. 5 days before New York, I ran for 20 minutes. This was the first time I had ran in 6 weeks. On Sunday 6 November I stood on the start line for the Ing New York City Marathon wearing my QEF vest and I was very nervous. I kneeled and prayed. During the first mile, I heard a voice in my head. It was my gran and she told me she would see me at the finishing line. I was running well and my training was paying off. I remembered everything I had learned. My pace was indicating I was on for a great time. I was aiming for 4 hours, 30 minutes but my pace was quicker. Every mile passed and I felt great. I quickened the pace and was on target to finish 4 hours, 15 minutes. As I reached the last 200 metres I found the energy to speed up and when I crossed the finish line it was 4 hours, 13 minutes. I had ran the race of my life and I was delighted. At the QEF, disabled people are achieving goals for life. This is exactly what I did.
I had so far had a great time and achieved some personal bests; Asics London 10k in July, 45 minutes (previous was 48), Burnham Beeches half marathon in August, 1 hour, 36 minutes (previous half marathon was 1 hour 42), Spitfire 20 mile, 2 hours, 29 minutes (previous was 3 hours, 3 - YES I was 34 minutes faster which was mind blowing) and the best of all, The Ing New York City Marathon, 4 hours, 13 minutes beating my London time by 36 minutes. During my training I had fallen on tarmac, hurting my knees and for most of September, every muscle in my body hurt. I have been very fortunate not to have had any injuries.
In June, thanks to this page, I met a beautiful lady called Teresa. We started dating and Teresa joined me for the final part of my challenge. Teresa has been very supportive of my training and has been a rock to me when it was tough. She is an incredible person who means the world to me - Thank you Kochanie (sweetheart in Polish) xxxxxx
Over the winter months Teresa and I were busy training and preparing for the trip. To start training again was tough enough but to maintain the training had been the toughest part of the challenges. After aches, pains, tears and vaccinations, we were ready, fit and healthy.
So after over 800 miles (running), 800 litres of Highland Spring and 800 bananas, we climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 8 days. We left London on 15 February and started the climb on 17 February for 7 days. We chose to climb the Lemosho route which is a longer route but we knew the extra days would help us to acclimatise. No training could prepare us to know how well we would acclimatise, however the longer we were on the mountain, the better the chances we had to reach the summit. There was 3 of us on our trip, A soldier called David, Teresa and my self. There was also a team of 18 staff to help and assist us including our chef, Johnson, Waiter, Stanley, Assistant Guide, Joseph and our leader and Head Guide, Naiman. I would like to say now, without the incredible patience, team work, encouragement and determination of these guys, we would not have made it. They looked after us beyond belief. We had fantastic food, lots of fun and Naiman is with out doubt the most incredible person we have ever met.
I can honestly say, after 2 marathons, this was the toughest of the challenges. Each day we walked for approximately 6 hours, slowly walking higher and higher. After day 3 (we had reached 3,840 metres), both Teresa and my self started to feel mild altitude sickness. It comes on very quick and you just want to rest. We managed to acclimatise but on day 4 we walked to a height of 4,550 metres. We had been walking through rain forests and grass plateau's but now the terrain was rocky lava ridges. I did not feel too good and I also discovered I had a fear of falling over. I was ok with the height but if the terrain became very steep and uneven surfaces, I became very nervous.
I discussed with Naiman and he suggested I did not take any more malaria tablets and I had some Ibuprofen and Diamox to help me acclimatise. He told us, we were only suffering normal symptoms and we were a very strong group. I went to bed to sleep on it. We camped at 3,900 metres. The nights were now getting cold and were approximately -5. I woke in the morning realising the only way down was up and I had to overcome my fear. So yet again I faced a massive wall to climb. I had to keep going despite the fact it was now getting so tough. I had to rely on all my training, all my fitness and all my goals. I also had the most important person in my life by my side and together we would do it. So I started day 5 and quite literally had the biggest challenge of my life, 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 my entire body strength to help me climb and overcome my fear. We made it and after 2 more days of climbing to reach 4,600 metres we rested to prepare ourselves for the midnight climb to the summit.
We reached the summit at Uhuru Peak on day 7, Thursday 23 February at 06.50am. Our bodies and fitness were put to the test on Summit Day when we climbed for 7 hours while temperatures fell to -12.
Coming down was quick and after spending our last night on the mountain (our porters sang local songs and cooked a traditional meal), we virtually ran the rest of the way down. In 2 hours 50 minutes we were back in rain forests.
It was an incredible feeling to not only have done this amazing challenge but to have completed the 3 Continents Challenge. But the story does not end here and whilst at Uhuru Peak, I asked my girlfriend, Teresa to marry me by proposing with a ring I had carried for the last 7 days. The great news is she said YES. This has truly been an incredible story, life changing, meeting some amazing people and overcoming disabilities some people have to suffer their entire life. It has been so rewarding knowing my efforts can change someone's life for the better.
I believed in it and WE DID IT.
But the story does not end there - As a final touch, whilst at Kilimanjaro airport, we purchased an engagement ring with a very rare gem called tanzanite which is mined at the foot hills of Kilimanjaro. Tanzanite is called the blue diamond.
After ending our adventure with a safari we returned to England, and we were asked by BBC Radio Berkshire to appear on the Sarah Walker show with Bill Buckely to talk about the 3 Continents Challenge and our engagement.
We have been in the local papers again and over the summer I was asked to do three talks about our experience, I said at the begining, I would start a journey to help others for the rest of my life. This is only just the begining........
We would like to thank all the local people for their support and in particular our trainer, Steve Dowse at Definition Lifestyle and Fitness, our physio, Claire Lake at Flames Physiotherapy, the congregation at St Mary's Church, Hitcham, the team at Richmond Creative Events, Gavin Fischer at Time 106.6 and BBC Radio Berkshire, Stephen Scott at The Burnham Advertiser, Sports Tours International, The African Walking Company, Exodus, Apex Sports in Farnham Common, Foxes Outdoor in Amersham, our mum's, dad's and families for their love and support and my amazing girlfriend and fiancee Teresa. I love you Kochanie.
It has been a truly amazing and inspiring year and we also sincerely thank you all for your help, kindness and support.
We both wanted to raise as much as we can to reach my target of between £4,000 - £5,000.
I self funded the Challenge and so all the money donated has gone to the charity.
3 Continents Challenge 2011/12 - believe in it and we did it
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