Why am I doing this?
As many of you will know, when I was 15 years old I detached my retina playing rugby and following 11 operations, subsequently, lost the sight in my left eye shortly after my 17th birthday.
Obviously, it was not a very fun time but it did allow me a unique insight into the world of people who are visually impaired at a young age. I was 17 when I lost my sight and it's fair to say it was a difficult adjustment period. Tasks that were previously second nature became a challenge: driving, walking in crowds, negotiating anything in the dark or even something as simple as pouring a drink. With only one eye you lose all depth perception and not being able to immediately judge the distance you are from an object takes some time to adjust to.
With 56 hospital visits over the 2 years, I met a diverse group of individuals. Aside from the wonderful hospital staff, the people who stuck with me the most are the children who were also in hospital for their own variety of treatments and surgeries. Every day 4 children will be diagnosed as either being blind or severely vision impaired.
From toddlers through to young adults like myself, they were all incredible in the face of adversity. Losing your sight in any capacity is not only hard to live with, it is incredibly scary. But each of these children and their families would smile, laugh and even joke about their own individual situations.
It's always been on my agenda to do a challenge and try in some small way to benefit the Royal Society for Blind Children. I know better than most just how much that support can mean for these children and their families now, and through into their adult lives.
RSBC are there to help blind children through every stage of their progression, all the way to help them gain employment as young adults. You can read more about them here: https://www.rsbc.org.uk/
What am I doing?
In June 2020 I am running 230km through the Amazon Rainforest in Peru over 5 days. This is a self-sufficient race meaning that other than water, which is provided, I have to carry all of my supplies for the full 5 days including my hammock, all food, all medical supplies, navigation equipment, clothing, spare shoes, sleeping bag....and anything else you can imagine to survive 5 days in the rainforest.
The 5 days (with some fun insights from the organizers) below:
1. 37km (beginning at 3000m altitude so oxygen is sparse)
2. 36km (where you're most likely to encounter snakes, spiders and 'biting insects')
3. 43km (largest river crossing and with almost entirely no shade from the 30-degree heat)
4. 38km (an endless series of sharp, scrambling climbs, river crossings, mud and choking humidity)
5. 70km (The Long One - this treacherously technical stretch slows progress to about a crawl)
You can watch a short trailer about the race here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=45-7RVoJMXs
I have done some long races before, but this is a whole other world. Just need to work out how to train for 30-degree heat, 90% humidity, river-crossings, insects that can kill, oh and also running 230km!
People always say "that doesn't sound fun," and they're right. At times it won't be fun. BUT it will be a great challenge and hopefully enough to inspire people to donate towards supporting children who have lost their sight.