2 men, 2000 miles, 1 important reason
It’s June 2010. The hottest day of the year so far and less than one week until the 112-mile Marmotte cycle event in the French Alps. On something of a whim, we’d decided to ride from London to the start line, below the iconic 21 hairpin turns of Alpe d’Huez in the town of Bourg d’Oisans.
6-days later, with close to 1000 miles of cycling behind us, we were sitting on the train home. As the mountains receded onto the horizon, we were both lost in thought (and intermittently asleep) – how far could we go, and in how little time? How much could we pack into a 2-week European adventure?
Soon we were reaching for the map and plotting routes through countries, over mountains and across lakes. The Accelerace Challenge 2011 was born.
The ethos was the same as before, with adventure and endurance at its core, but now we were combining sports – running, kayaking, mountain biking and road cycling. This smacked of something epic…
Stage 1 – Road bike from London to Scuol in eastern Switzerland (650 miles in 3 days)
Stage 2 – Mountain bike across Switzerland from Scuol to Lausanne (450 miles in 4 days)
Stage 3 – Kayak across Lake Geneva (50 miles)
Stage 4 – Road bike from Geneva to Livorno on the west coast of Italy (440 miles in 2 days)
Stage 5 – Kayak the east coast of Corsica (100 miles)
Stage 6 – Run the infamous GR20 mountain trail from south to north (112 miles in 3 days)
All in, we’ve set ourselves just 14 days to reach the end of the GR20.
Neither of us bring any particular expertise or sporting prowess to the challenge; both working in desk-based jobs in London, neither having any particular record of national or even regional athletic/running/cycling or kayaking honours, and neither really in a position to dedicate the next 4 months to non-stop training. We’ve done a few marathons, a bunch of Ironmans, a range of other varied endurance challenges, and quite a bit of cycling. This is something quite unique though.
Needless to say, when we are able to escape the desk, we’re packing in as much training as possible, and we’ve set a few key “acclimatisation sessions” or pre-challenges, if you like, some of which stand alone as hefty feats. These include running the Welsh 3000ers twice in one weekend in early May and a 500-mile weekend ride through France, Belgium and Germany.
Besides just doing this for the sake it, there’s a key message behind why we are prepared to go through two weeks of undoubted suffering. That is to raise awareness of prostate cancer, the most prevalent cancer in men in the UK, and yet one which for which there is a great deal of naivety. If our Challenge has helped you become aware of a disease which currently affects 250,000 men in the UK, then we’ll have achieved a major part of our aim.
Next stop on the long road to Corsica: Paris and London Marathons in two weeks time.Accelerace Challenge, charity, prostate cancer
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