Challenges Challenges…

When you are wrapped up in a year long event such as this, with every spare evening and weekend spent training, it is easy to lose track of what is happening in the real world. Although the Chile Challenge is partly for myself, something to help motivate me through hours of training for long distance events by tracking distance and writing about it afterwards, it has also been a great way to raise money for charity by doing something a bit different.

Despite this, it seems to have been more difficult to get sponsorship in recent months, as there are a lot of charitable things going on at the moment: the Ice Bucket Challenge, Go Sober October, Movember, the list goes on. My own office is in the midst of its own charity week, raising funds for The Hope Foundation in India, linked to our sister office in Kolkata, which has included classics such as a cake sale (people actually paid real money for my homemade brownies!), fundraising t-shirts and so on.

Rocky Steps

The main thrust of the week however, is that our 80 staff who are split between six sites, have been ‘virtually’ climbing the six highest mountains in the World – Everest, Kilimanjaro et al. This distance of 117,266 feet or 200,000 steps, works out at 420 steps per person per day. Essentially it is the same concept as the Chile Challenge, where the equivalent mileage is completed from home, but the thought is there to use as a target.

Each of our workplaces are different so I am not sure how other offices have been doing their sections, but we are based in a charming 11 floor concrete miracle in central Birmingham, which with 20 steps per level is actually perfect for a challenge such as this. The mathematicians among you will have worked out that by doing two full climbs you have 11 x 20 x 2 = 440 steps, which is bang on our daily target.

Escher stairs

For the last week therefore, we have had twice daily processions of the whole team heading down from the third floor to do the ‘staircase challenge’ together like some sort of bizarre fire drill in reverse, and it has actually been pretty good fun (perhaps more for some of us than others!) and a great way of getting everyone together. As someone who avoids using the lift where possible, I have been taking the stairs to my floor all year, but after this I think it may become part of my morning routine in future, perhaps even bringing my grey tracksuit to go the full Rocky!

So after climbing well over 2000 steps in 5 days, what could be more appropriate than a few classes to finish off my legs altogether? In addition to my usual Monday night Combat Class, which involves numerous kicks and squats, I found myself in a Les Mills Cycling Class on Thursday evening, with even more hill climbs and sprints for my aching quads and hamstrings. Not content with me barely being able to get upstairs,  my wife then convinced me into taking it to the ultimate level – a Step Class! Yes, any feeling I had left in my knees or ankle joints is now well and truly gone after spending 55 minutes jumping up and down to ‘party’ music.


Obviously the fitness benefits of all this climbing are great, and it should help a lot with re-building my cardio system for next week’s triathlon after spending most of August away, but I am not convinced about all the side-effects. This morning I was looking for a new suit in Next and tried on my usual size. Everything from the knee up was fine, but evidently my calves have made the most of the training, and are now too large to fit in normal sized trousers. Seriously, it looked like I was trying to smuggle dirt around my ankles like the guys in the Great Escape…

Well, on that bombshell, I think it is best to spend the rest of the weekend taking it easy (or tapering as the pros say) and hopefully my leg muscles will deflate enough for me to be able to get back to work again on Monday!


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