***LAND'S END TO JOHN O'GROATS IN LESS THAN 9 DAYS - 900 Miles of unforgiving road!
This isn't a short post, but I hope by the time you get to the end of it you will feel it was worth reading! First of all let me say there are a lot of truly outstanding people on this and other MS forums that I have researched. I have spent many hours looking through the posts and I'm left with the feeling that what I'm doing (more about that in a moment) pails into insignificance compared to what you guys face every day with such fortitude.
My name is Geoff Sherwin, I don't have MS and up until about 18 months ago I only had a vague understanding of what MS is. That all started to change when the company that I work for (EDF Energy) chose the Multiple Sclerosis Society as their charity partner. From that point I started to take an interest in MS and began researching it further. To cut a very long story short the end result was that I found myself wanting to do more than just read about it/attend MS awareness seminars etc....much more!
I decided that if I could get enough support I would do an endurance challenge with the intention of raising £10,000 for the MS Society whilst also raising awareness of the condition. The challenge is being funded completely by me and I realised very early on that to make this happen I’d need to invest over £2,500 of my own money. Not a small amount and something I try not to dwell on too much!
The challenge is to cycle from one end of the United Kingdom to the other (Land's End to John O'Groats) in less than 9 days – with no rest days. This is 874 to 1,050 miles (1,407 to 1,689 Km) depending upon which route you take. (Or how many times you get lost!) My route means I'll be covering a distance of 900 miles including climbing approx 35,500 feet. That’s a mind boggling amount of serious energy sapping hills. To put this into some kind of context… Mount Everest is 29,035 feet above sea level! Based on the 100 mile training runs done so far…I will burn over 30,000 calories if I make it to John O’Groats!
Cycling an average of over 100 miles (160 Km) a day for 8-9 consecutive days is a challenge not to be taken lightly especially when you consider that I was in no way an experienced cyclist when I decided to do this…running is more my thing. I also turn 50 a few months before I do the attempt and as I have no desire to die from exhaustion….preparation is everything!
When I start this challenge on the 30th April (2011) it will have taken nearly 3 years to plan and train for. This includes being in the Gym for an hour, three to five days a week since June 2008 with this challenge in mind. In addition to this I will have done 4,000 to 5,000 miles (6,400 to 8,000 Km) on road training on the bike as well.The amount raised so far is approaching £4,000 (This has been paid to the MS Society already - they receive the money as it's raised).
Everything was going so well as a lot of planning went into how the £10,000 target would be achieved - unfortunately due to a multitude of reasons all frustratingly beyond my control recently I was forced to change my target from £10,000 to £7,000. Plans were in place for a couple of major fund raising events within the company I work for. (Dress Down Days) From a fundraising point of view these are extremely important. They were supposed to have taken place over a period approaching almost two years during the build up to the challenge.
Due to 'a change in company policy' these were initially postponed but have subsequently been cancelled. This is a devastating blow and has effectively wiped out over £4,000 of what was going to be raised. Unfortunately the bad news doesn't end there. The company also announced that its partnership with the MS Society was coming to an end on 31.03.2010. This means anything raised after that date will not now be matched which will effectively wipe out at another £2,000 - £3,000.
This has changed everything as regards the challenge. My initial reaction (actually, I can't print what my initial reaction was!) to this disappointing news was "Well....one way or another the MS Society are going to get there £10,000". But the reality is that the additional time commitment for further fundraising on top of what I've already got planned together with ongoing training will be just too much. The amount of time that gets eaten up making this thing happen is just phenomenal! A further consequence of these developments means that the challenge will not now be supported as I can no longer justify the personal financial outlay in relation to what will be raised. I've already spent well over £1,000 of my £2,500 budget on making this happen, by not having a support team I will save just over £1,000. (By 'not supported' I mean there won't be a vehicle following to provide assistance if things go wrong. The company providing this reassuring service also take care of an enormous amount of logistical planning. Probably the most important thing they also do is bring together other like minded people so that you're not doing the challenge on your own, you have other crazy people doing the 900 miles along side you, a big psychological advantage when things inevitably get tough) Now it will just be me...and the road.
THE BOTTOM LINE IS I'M STICKING WITH THE MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS SOCIETY AND I'M GOING TO SEE THIS THROUGH TO THE END, but as mentioned above my target has now very reluctantly been reduced to £7,000. I can't tell you how disappointed I am that this has been necessary as a considerable amount of effort went into establishing what the level of support would be prior to committing to this little venture.
However I would also point out that EDF Energy as a company have raised £240,000 over the last 18 months (a testament to the kind of people I have the pleasure working with) and the only reason that this relationship is coming to an end is because we will be starting to support ParalympicsGB. EDF Energy is keen to support a broad range of charities and as such the period which the company is associated with each charity is limited. It's just very, very, VERY bad timing!! C'est la vie.
Well that's a little background. Now for the reason our paths have crossed today. It's given me the opportunity to ask you to consider two things. The obvious thing is "Would you be kind enough to sponsor me?" It can literally be anything; each pound is a pound closer to that target! Trust me; I will earn every single penny...with interest! If you follow this link it will take you straight to my 'JustGiving' online donation site - and you can donate from anywhere in the world. The money goes straight to The Multiple Sclerosis Society. (Don't forget to 'Give Aid' it; this increases the donation by 28% if you live in the UK!) Although the date of the challenge is still some way off please feel free to sponsor/pledge now…it would provide some much needed motivation to see some donations rolling in. (…and trust me…when your dragging yourself out of a nice warm bed questioning your own sanity as you set off on yet another 100 mile training ride at 6:00am on a Sunday morning knowing you did exactly the same thing the day before… you need all the motivation that’s going!!
This online donation site also gives loads more information on my reasons for wanting to do this for the MS Society and how training is going. Here's the address: http://www.justgiving.com/Geoff-Sherwin
My second request is... if you're on 'Facebook' I've just set up a 'Page' dedicated to the 'Lands End to John O'Groats in less than 9 days challenge'...and I wondered if you would like to 'Become a Fan'? It will be interesting to see what the interest is throughout the MS Community. I’m also using this Facebook page (It’s actually several pages linked together) as a place where I can thank people properly who have helped support this cause. This page will also be used to provide daily updates when I hit the road next April and the clock starts ticking.
I’m also looking into making use of a Satellite Tracking Service that will work in conjunction with this page to tell anyone who cares to know...where I am at any given moment during the challenge. (also for Jayne's peace of mind! - Jayne is my wife by the way) When you connect to the service via the internet you not only see where I am on a map, but how fast I’m going (hopefully recreating my exit from a Devon town called Oakhampton recently at 41.6 Mph! – I was hauling ass!!)…but more than likely I’ll be going up some mountainous god forsaken hill in Scotland at a less impressive speed of 4 Mph! Not sure how I’m going to go about this at the moment but I’m working on it.
To 'Become a Fan' simply put this into the address bar at the top of the screen and it will take you straight to the page: <shortened url
If you live in the UK there is also a load of information on this page about a superb company I’ve signed up with called www.easyfundraising.org.uk
. This fundraising company actively supports The Multiple Sclerosis Society along with many others. It is a huge online shopping directory who have signed up just about every high street name you can think of in the UK including Argos, Carphone Warehouse, Boots, Comet, Next, Amazon, Kickers, PhotoBox, PC World, Curry’s, Debenhams, John Lewis, Play.com, Game, Last Minute.com, WH Smith, Love Film.com, Fat Face, BHS, JJB Sports, Ticket Master, Toys R Us, Marks & Spencer, HMV, and over 2000 other top name stores. There are some excellent sites dedicated to finding the perfect present such as ‘I want one of those’, Prezzy Box, Gadget Shop, Find me a gift, Boys Stuff, Red Letter Days etc. Whenever you shop with any one of them using the links provided on the Easy fundraising site, you'll automatically generate a free donation specifically for the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society of anything up to 15% of the purchase price every time! You even generate donations by having free trials. Here's 3 examples: £5 donation for a 2 week free trial with LOVEFILM.com or a £9 donation for a one month free trial to WHICH? How about a £5 donation for a 2 week free trial with Blockbuster Films? It really is that simple and it works. The last time I checked £160.59 had been raised towards my target using this excellent company…and that is with just me using the site. Again the money is paid directly to the charity and they always send you an email confirming that your donation has been sent whenever you make an online purchase.
I’m just one person trying to make a difference and I understand that in what can sometimes seem an impersonal world it's not always easy to judge what a person is really like just by a posting on a forum so If you want to know more about me please feel free to 'add me as a friend' on Facebook because if you've got all the way down here and as a result you decide to sponsor me....I consider you one!
Forgive me if this forum isn't the right place for this post. In the past I’ve very rarely posted on any forum about any subject. It just seemed like the logical place to find people who would be genuinely happy to support this fund raising challenge. (Not sure if that sounded right but you know what I mean - sometimes people will sponsor you but you can occasionally see in their eyes it's under silent protest!)
I find the need to be constantly driving the fund raising forwards to make things happen to be quite a lonely process and very tiring! So any help you guys can provide will make more of a difference than you probably realise. Thanks for your time, I appreciate it....and hang in there, the medical community are understanding more and more about MS every day, you never know what might be just around the corner.