So, 3 weeks today, I'll be at 11000 feet half way up the highest mountain in Africa - well I should be as long as I haven't been stretchered off as a result of fear, injury, altitude, fatigue, deli belli, hypothermia, or bandits!
Amazing fact: Did you know 25% of people who attempt Kilimanjaro don't make it? So on the stats alone that means out of our group of 7 (inc Robbie) 1.75 of us isn't going to make it. Who's it going to be?? Ralph's already offering odds on each individual reaching the top, here are the runners and riders and a form guide.
Maria Assenova - has successfully climbed to the Everest base camp before and is a general climbing and mountain nut. 1/4.
Tom Keeber – ran 100km in 15 hours earlier in the year and has successfully climbed Kili a few years ago. 1/4.
Andrea Macqueen - runs marathons internationally for fun. 1/2.
Natalie Charlton - walked 85 miles in a week for charity earlier in the year. 1/2.
Robbie Savage - an ex professional footballer who completed the great north run last week who tweets pictures of himself in the gym and juggles silverware. 8/13.
Vince Bateson - played table tennis at school once, usually takes the car to the shops for a pint of milk and prefers the lift to the stairs. 5/6.
Thomas Murphy - a reasonably fit 40 something year old who is usually training hard, but by his own admission is under prepared. 7/4.
So where's the value? Thomas and me. 5 point double. Why? Because fitness isn't going to be the thing that gets us to the top, its altitude that's the real challenge. End to end, the climb is about 25 miles. That doesn't sound too bad does it. If I had to, right now, I could walk 25 miles (I did 16 miles yesterday as part of my training, evidence below). And, what's more, we get 6 days to do it, so 4 miles a day, got to be possible yes?
But, and it’s a big but, imagine trying to do it with only half a lung working, as that's what happens when you get to altitude. The summit is 19341 feet and anything above 12000 effects the body, and it’s cold. No, really cold. The sleeping bag we have had to get has to be able to keep you warm (and alive) at minus 20 centigrade.
Every step is an effort. And you've been sleeping in a tent on the side of a windy hill, probably suffering from diarrhoea (make that a very windy hill), only having a shrub as a toilet and more than likely having lost at least one toenail (nearly half of people who attempt the climb lose at least 1).
It’s truly going to be an experience of a lifetime one way or the other and the cause is such a worthy one. Hearing the last team to return back from Laikipia talk about how the children walk down to the river to pick up dirty contaminated water every day, that subsequently makes them really ill when they drink it, really brings it home.
We all realise that money is tight nowadays, but spare a thought for the children in Laikipia when you turn the tap on tonight and please support the team by making a donation. I'll be thinking of them in my hour(s) of need on the mountain and especially on the way down.
And, the other thought I keep in my head, if Chris Moyles and Cheryl Cole can do it, it can't be that hard, right!?!
Any donations that you might care to make can be made via our fund raising website https://mydonate.bt.com/events/kilimanjaropa/96496.