This blog article will be my final one before I travel out to Tanzania to climb the highest free standing mountain in the world. I am climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for STEPS Charity which has supported, and continues to support, my family during the treatment of our youngest child William who was born with bilateral talipes.
It’s been a busy few weeks since I last wrote an article. Not only have I finished purchasing all my equipment (who thought it would be so hard to buy gloves in the summer), but I have been getting a lot of media coverage from our local outlets including the Nottingham Post, where I have had two articles published in a week, and also been interviewed on local community radio station, Erewash Sound.
I have joked that it felt at some points like I was on a press junket tour, but unfortunately I’ve not been asked on Graham Norton yet. Joking aside, it’s been good to get some publicity for the charity and the condition. Not many people know that much about it, even though it is quite common and affects 1 in 1000 babies.
Since I last wrote I have completed my last set of pre climb runs (I still have two post climb half marathons to complete in September and October). Firstly the Clumber Park Trailblazer 10k which took place on Saturday 27th June on one of the hottest days of the year. This was then followed by the Clough/Taylor run which took place five days later at Donington Park. Unfortunately this then became the hottest day of the year and was extremely difficult, running in 34 degree heat. Thankfully I managed to complete them both, but the times were never going to be record breakers in that heat, especially for me either. On a positive note, the experience will have really helped with my stamina for the climb ahead.
I’ve also been working hard to prepare for the company’s annual BBQ. Microlise kindly allowed me to use the annual event last Friday as a fundraiser for STEPS. Microlise staff took part in the traditional cake sale, which always heralds some delightful results and we weren’t disappointed. We’ve also been asking local businesses and entertainment venues for raffle prizes. I have to thank all the companies who have supported the fundraising by donating prizes and all my colleagues at Microlise for helping me source raffle prizes, buying tickets, baking and eating cakes and helping throughout the day to increase the amount we’ve raised. In total for the day we managed to raise £811.86 which has increased my total fundraising so far to just over £2200.
At the start of July I also started my altitude training, with the equipment supplied by AcclimatiseMe (http://www.acclimatiseme.com/). For 15 days I have to spend 37 minutes a day breathing into a special machine that ultimately reduces the amount of oxygen I intake, preparing me for oxygen levels at higher altitude.
As they say on the shampoo adverts, here is the science bit: As you breathe in less oxygen through the mask, SpO2 levels drop, as there is less oxygen available in your body. This drop in SpO2 triggers a hormone release, stimulating red blood cell and haemoglobin production. The production of red blood cells and haemoglobin is an adaptation by your body to ensure oxygen is more efficiently used, meaning it can cope better with reduced levels of oxygen. The production and formation of these takes 8-12 days and it is vital that you are exposed to altitude every day during this process to maximise the efficiency of the training.
The machine reduces oxygen to 7%, from the usual 21% at sea level, which is the equivalent to what you would find at 8000 metres, at the summit of Mount Everest. Preparing my body for 7% oxygen levels gives me a better chance of handling conditions on Kilimanjaro where levels are around 9.5% at the summit.
So, I fly out to Tanzania on Friday July 24th. I would like to take this time to thank everyone who has supported my fundraising, whether it’s via donations or helping in any other way; there are too many people to mention individually but you know who you are. Your kindness is very much appreciated by myself and by STEPS.
My next blog post will (hopefully) be my review of my successful ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro. For anyone who is interested in following my STEPS up the mountain (see what I did there), then the Private Expeditions facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/PrivateExpeditions) will give daily updates and photos of our trek.
Thank you all for reading and taking an interest in my fundraising campaign and I look forward to sharing the highlights with you when I return. You can find out more about the campaign, the condition and the charity at www.climbsteps.co.uk or donate to STEPS at www.justgiving.com/ClimbSteps.