It started, as these things so often do, with a night out with friends. More specifically we were out for dinner with Jon and Jane and the conversation turned to our previous challenge (doing every different Olympic and Paralympic event) and what we should do next. It wasn’t a serious conversation – just a bit of fun. But someone came up with the idea of going to every country in the world and we started to discuss what this would mean. It didn’t seem enough just to visit each country – that’s been done before (albeit by very few people). We wanted something unique.
Eventually, the thought occurred that I could do a 10 km in each country. I could even start at the Olympic Park in London and finish at the Olympic stadium in Tokyo. This would tie in well with the work we do at Gold Challenge to encourage people to be more active and would be in keeping with the sporting and Olympic themes from the previous challenge.
In particular, I decided to start by visiting as many Commonwealth countries as possible before Glasgow 2014 to publicise the 2014 Challenge. The 2014 Challenge is a physical activity challenge that celebrates the 2014 Commonwealth Games and is part of Legacy 2014. It’s free to enter and open to everyone across the Commonwealth. Participants can use the Challenge to improve their health & fitness and/or raise money for charity.
The 2014 Challenge is the follow up to Gold Challenge’s highly successful 2012 Challenge in which over 105 000 people participated in the lead up to the Olympics / Paralympics.
But before I kicked-off anything I canvassed opinion – and plenty of it was negative. This ranged from the generic it’s “too much / dangerous / expensive / pointless” to the politely sceptical to the out rightly critical “It’s hare brained” and the classic “Some ideas are so mad that they’re cool. This one isn’t.”
And, to be honest, even I felt there were good reasons not to proceed. It would mean being away from the family a lot. The logistics – travel, accommodation, visas, vaccinations – fill me with horror. I don’t enjoy the actual travel (I’m a tall, impatient, insomniac who can’t handle jetlag). It’ll also cost a lot. And be dangerous. Not to mention the sheer number (200+) of 10 kms to be run.
On the other hand, some people were positive including my mother. ‘Mother supports son’ is hardly that unusual but this time it was particularly poignant as, during my deliberations, she’d been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Her enthusiasm meant so much to me and this is dedicated to her. (She’s also the reason I hope to raise some money for Cancer Research UK along the way.)
I’ve now done three trial countries (blogs to follow) and I think I’ve finally decided to commit. 2020 kilometres from London to Tokyo via every country in the world. God help me.
If anyone reads this and has any advice or contacts, or wants to take part in any way, then I’d love to hear from you.