Update from Mark……

Its been 7 weeks now since Chris and Barry accepted my request to join them on this extreme and what will be a painful challenge. At that point my fitness levels were a major concern due to the intensive chemotherapy and lack of activity I have had this year. With that behind me though I now have a major challenge to complete this task but at the same time need to take care I do not injure myself through my own exuberance and over exerting myself…………………so I went on holiday to Norway!! The intention was to kayak out there but the weather never allowed that opportunity but I did focus on my diet and did plenty of hill walking. The diet worked well, during chemo I lost 7kg from 89kg and post Norway I was down to 79kg which was the same weight as I was ten years ago when I was in the best condition of my life! Now the task though is to get strength, stamina and endurance in to my body. I had re-started my regular morning dog walk so the first plan was to make that more intense, its an hour and 5 minute walk every day up and down cliff ridges but now I was adding 22lb of weight in a ruck sack, the idea being I walk with intensity, stride up the ridges instead of ‘crabbing’ them and later this month I will extend my walking programme to build endurance. I have also started weights indoors with loads of repition work and of course exercises to strengthen my core but really do need to improve my cardio work. For this next week I start training with the football team and will be getting back out on my bike but what about the all important kayaking? I’ve not been in my yak for a couple of years but early December I uncovered it from the cobwebs in the garage and got afloat. It was joyous, first trip out I was in the tides, almost rapid like in and out of the rocks, 3 hours of fun and loosening up. I followed that up with a couple of fishing trips and then went for the biggie……….two circumnavigations of the island which would be a paddle of around 18 or 19 miles. I launched in the darkness and got off to a flyer, rounded the western end of the island and punched in to the wind and from there I was in a force 3 with chop plus swelly conditions, I was getting the work out I was looking for. In my Hobie I am able to pedal and paddle, paddling I was incredibly weak at so relied on my legs for two-thirds of the forthcoming journey but I was loving it. Spray everywhere, the yak was  not sure whether it was supposed to be airbourne or submerged at this point but I battled through, along the south coast of Alderney, I then hit a tremendous amount of tide on my nose for 45 minutes and then it flattened out and for the next 2 miles I was easing along at 3 or 4 knots. The day had now dawned and as I completed the first circuit and with the tide now in my favour for the second circuit disaster happened! The Mirage Drive that propels my pedals broke! No not my legs!!! The stainless rod that pins one of the fins had snapped, 12mm of stainless broke………..I was gutted. From there it was just my arms and they were shot so reluctantly I decided to call it a day and paddled the remaining mile in to port. This gave me a taste of what needs to be done though and I am so looking forward to it. The replacement part has arrived and I am waiting to go again. I have come through Christmas unscathed weight wise, avoided all the foods I need to, and ate the ones I needed too! January is going to be tough, now the work begins, there is a need to beat the weather, raise my game and intensify the training with what ever gets thrown at me and I’ll do it. At the back of my mind constantly is the real reason why the three of us are doing this, it is those that need our help, those less fortunate than us to experience what I have just experienced, the ability to live and the ability to ride, to train, to paddle………….that will keep me going! Happy new year everyone!

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