Archive for September, 2010
Stephen Gallagher keeps us up to date on his training and thoughts in the final week before he joins 10 other brave climbers in an attempt to conquer Mt Kilimanjaro, the largest mountain in Africa.
The Donard experience
After my brief and leisurely introduction to hiking and walking during the week around my local lanes and roads in Armagh, me and my ‘Mr Motivator’ Rob Cascone, decided to test the legs and equipment with a early morning hike up Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains. This was to be my first real taste of mountain walking and a great opportunity to assess how much work I will need to put in before the climb and a small window to see what 6 days on Kilimanjaro is going to be like.
Thankfully we had a favourable weather conditions, sunny and little wind with dry conditions all day. I was happy with this situation as Rob and the rest of the ‘fighting chance’ team have been training most weekends in the Mournes and they have been met with wet and windy conditions on most of these occasions. I did feel I had cheated a bit on this because the weather was so good, but to be honest I think the good weather and sun improved the mood after a 7am start from my house in Richhill for our drive to Donard car park. Along with the sunny conditions in our drive to Donard to improve our mood at such an early time on a Saturday morning, I decided to go through most of Robs music collection on his iPod to again try and find some extra motivation. I would like to say that I haven’t listened to as much Beach boys, ACDC and Abba in my life, his choice of music is the most random I have seen to say the least. But I will put I down to him being Australian and forgive him to putting me through such torture!
After a quick check in the Donard car park of all our equipment we started my first ‘hike’. The last time I was here I was 13years old with my school camp. Having picked Robs brains about how long it would take us to get up there and what time he ’normally’ gets to the top in, my competitive spirit got the best of me and the athletes ambition always to improve on the previous best was unfortunately in my mindset again. So our brisk ‘march’ through the forest and along the steps in the first 30min quickly turned into a full on sweat and heavy breathing experience. Robs training to this date has been going great so he was keen to show off his newly formed love of hill walking and fitness gained from months of walking and Jogging up and down most mountains in Northern Ireland. While I on the other hand wanted to show my ability to fit into the fighting chance team even without doing much hiking over the past months. Of course this led to the 2 of us climbing Donard 20min quicker than Rob had ever done it before. This first time for me resulted in me being very pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it.
The climb itself was a challenge but also getting used to my new back pack and getting used to equipment that I will be using climbing Kilimanjaro. This is something that I hadn’t been doing over the past week in my own preparation so I was keen to see how I was after the climb and discover all the aches and pains associated with climbing a mountain with a heavy pack. Thankfully it turned out to be ok, well actually a stiff back was the result later that day, but I wont moan too much as I will have more time to train in the next couple of days so hopefully my muscles will kick in and start working easier, I hope!!!
What I did find the worst was coming down, anyone who has did this kind of exercise can be sympathetic to this I am sure. I have been warned that coming down is sometimes worse than going up, and this is to be true. A different rhythm of walking and balance is needed and my legs seem to feel a bit like jelly after putting a big effort getting to the top. Mental note for Kilimanjaro- its not over at the top, but when you get back to the bottom! Lesson well learnt on Donard.
In general I felt better after the Donard climb that the previous week, so I am hoping my blisters have gone and my legs have got used to a walking motion instead of a pedalling motion, there wont be any bikes on Kilimanjaro so better keep up the work.
After a few celebratory drinks with Rob and other friends on Saturday night which resulted in a small head ache on Sunday morning (I blamed altitude sickness from reaching the top of Donard but don’t think it worked), I decided to take Sunday as a deserved rest day after my 1st week of hiking.
Donard completed, now just a small mountain in Africa to over come!
On the 3rd October Fundraising team ‘Fighting Chance’ are flying out to Africa to attempt the challenge of climbing to the summit Mount Kilimanjaro, in memory of toddler Cody Gallagher who passed away due to cardiomyopathy last December.
Stephen Gallagher, Cody’s Dad, who is part of the team attempting the trek has kindly agreed to keep a blog for us (first entry as below), which we will update regularly on the website throughout the climb.
Time to get Hiking
Hello and welcome to my first ‘blog’ that i hope to continue before and during my trip to Kilimanjaro, keeping everyone informed on our teams preparation and adventures. For me and most of the team doing the trek, we are all novices and new to this type of experience, so I hope to be able to describe what it is like for a inexperienced mountaineer like me and how we all deal with the stress, physical exhaustion, satisfaction, that is experienced by the majority when undertaking such a challenge.
We decided last December to undertake a challenge to raise money for Children’s Heartbeat trust and Clark Clinic based at RBHSC who provided essential care and support to my son, Cody, who suffered with Cardiomyopathy and unfortunately passed away only a couple of weeks after we decided to undertake this adventure, he was only 13 months old. The shock of losing my son was at this time a very hard and difficult experience, but I found that focusing on our hike and other fundraising activities helped me handle the pain of his loss easier and made me think that his life here was of a greater purpose.
My good friend who is the instigator of this plan, Rob Cascone, came up with a name for our group undertaking this hike- Fighting Chance. This I thought was a very relevant name for our group of people who are climbing the mountain in my son’s memory and raising money for such a essential cause, we just want to help children in any way we can in there fight for life and fight to live with heart disease. Just give them a fighting chance.
My preparation for the climb has been somewhat limited to say the least, which has been of some concern to me over the past few months, but something I have trying to put correct this week and next, I hope!!! My job and life style that I live for 11 months of a year is that of a Professional cyclist, racing all over Europe and dedicating your life 24/7 to being lean, fit and healthy so to reach your maximum potential. Some of you may think ‘you’re fit and healthy, it will be no problem’, this is what I have heard a lot off believe me. But ask any experienced mountaineer or climber and they will tell you that it is a world away from what I do and it is a completely different kind of fitness and mental stamina that is need in comparison to my job of racing 120mile on a push bike! Fortunately my season has just finished on Saturday 18th September with the end of the 8 day Tour of Britain, this means I am free to hike, walk, crawl , in my preparation to break in my boots and get my muscles used to walking and not cycling, not as easy as it sounds believe me!!!!
After racing my bike for 8 days against some of the best professional cyclist in the world the last thing I would normally do is spend a couple of hours a day walking around the hills and lanes around my home village of Richhill, Co Armagh, but I did, slowly!
I have been mostly concerned with breaking in my new boots, and I was right to be concerned. My first and second days walking during the week was followed by me trying to ‘tip toe’ around my house like a ballerina trying to keep pressure off my blistered heel and sole of feet. Not a nice experience all round but I was glad to get the preparation started in the hope to get everything bedded in before we leave for Africa.
My preparation has begun for our adventure, and I am trying to now fit in all my preparation into 2 weeks, not a ideal situation but one challenge that I am extremely motivated for and believe that being single minded and focused on the challenge at hand I will be up that mountain with the rest of the group in sync.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the first man to visit both the North and South Poles by foot and the first to completely cross Antarctica has given his backing to local fundraising team ‘Fighting Chance’ who are planning to conquer Africa’s tallest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro and raise funds for the Children’s Heartbeat Trust.
Fighting Chance was set-up following the sudden death of local 13 month old toddler Cody Gallagher due to cardiomyopathy, a serious heart disease affecting the heart muscle. Eleven members of the Fighting Chance team will attempt the climb, which is part of a year of fundraising efforts. Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the Patron of the group, has urged everyone to join in their efforts.
Speaking two weeks before the team begin their climb he said: “It is with great pleasure that I accept patronage of Fighting Chance and I am pleased to endorse the events and fundraising efforts of the group. Fighting Chance is a rare example of a network of extraordinary people, who from all over the world, work tirelessly towards raising much needed sponsorship and awareness for the Children’s Heartbeat Trust Northern Ireland. On behalf of Fighting Chance, I urge you all to join us and ensure success with future endeavours.”
The Fighting Chance team climbing Mt Kilimanjaro includes 11 individuals from Northern Ireland, Ireland and as far away as Slovakia and Australia. The ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro is part of a year of fundraising activities in support of the Children’s Heartbeat Trust.
Rob Cascone, who along with Cody’s father Stephen Gallagher will be attempting the climb said: ‘”Throughout Cody’s short life, the staff and support offered by Clark Clinic was phenomenal, with an amazing level of care, not only for Cody but also his parents Stephen and Judith. Cody died shortly after his first birthday and we are climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in his memory, with his dad Stephen joining us for the climb.
“Cody touched so many people’s lives and we now have over 1000 proud supporters in our group worldwide, all working towards raising much needed funding and awareness for the Children’s Heartbeat Trust. We hope to reach the summit on the 10.10.10, truly a day to remember.” he added.
The team depart from Ireland on the 3rd October and are due to begin their climb on 5th October.
Anthony McLaughlin proudly displays his medal and certificate for finishing the Chichester Marathon with all sponsorship in aid of the Children’s Heartbeat Trust. This was his first marathon and is apparently one of the hilliest and hardest in the UK (he found this out after the run) so a big congratulations to Anthony for finishing it!
The Lynn family raised essential funds for the charity by selling our heart badges to the local community. Little Mark Lynn, pictured here with his mum Donna is currently receiving treatment at Clark Clinic. A very big thank-you to the Lynn family and all their family and friends for supporting the charity!