BLOG: Q&A Chris’s Big Jogle
Published 8 Apr 2016
Here at Breast Cancer UK we have some great supporters who help us to make change happen. Sometimes even we are taken aback by what they want to do to raise money for us, Chris Cottam is one such supporter.
On 15 April, Chris will set out on an epic 1000 mile walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End, along the way, he will be taking in the three highest peaks in the UK, Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon.
Chris is raising funds for three charities which are close to his heart, Breast Cancer UK, Cure Leukaemia and The Holt School Trust. We caught up with Chris as he prepares for the start of his journey to ask him a few questions.
Q. What is the inspiration behind Chris’s Big Jogle?
My wife, Hazel, has had Breast Cancer……twice. Many other people in our lives have battled Breast Cancer. Many have also fought Leukaemia. We have lost numerous relatives and friends to these diseases, including my sister-in-law, Ruxi, who passed away a couple of years ago. I promised myself I would do something to help when I had more time, and having retired 18 months ago I had no excuses.
The school connection is simply where our kids went and where I am a governor. Education is so important for early identification, research and treatment.
Q: Wow three peaks, that’s quite some undertaking, on top of the already daunting 1000 mile walk, what made you chose this route and why make it more difficult on yourself?
Choosing to walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End as a specific challenge was inspired by Sir Ian Botham’s walks, plus I don’t have any special skills or talents, so a walk seemed like something I should be able to do. Adding the 3 peaks was a mad moment when someone made a tongue-in-cheek remark about the basic walk ‘not being that hard’. Sometimes I wish I could engage my brain before speaking. (Talking of Sir Ian Botham, he had a lovely message for Chris which you can view here)
Q. So I guess you’ve had a lot of training to put in to prepare for your walk but for others out there, what type of training have you undertaken and how long have you been preparing for the walk?
I started training about 9 months ago. I’m lucky in that my game these days is golf, which is a 5 mile walk, and we have a mischievous Beagle who enjoys a long walk. So training was just a case of formalising things I was already doing and adding some gym work and a few all day walks. The biggest challenge has been time. It takes me about 7 hours to walk the 20 miles I need to do each day.
The best advice I found from someone else who had done the walk (selective reading) is that this is an endurance event and you need to start with a full body ‘battery’. Don’t start with only a half-full battery because you have put too much energy into training. I’ll know in about 10 weeks if this is really good advice……..or not.
Q. Have you had any ups and downs during your preparations?
Way more ups than downs. People are generally fabulous. We have had some wonderful donations; not just of money but also items for an auction we plan to hold at our celebration dinner on July 1st. We have also received some truly amazing stories and plenty of good wishes. A session with Anne Diamond on Radio Berkshire was a bit of a personal highlight.
The only occasional down has come from just being overwhelmed by how much there is to do, but that lasts about an hour until we remember why we are doing this. Plus, we want to make this an adventure as much as we can. Excitement trumps worry, at least so far.
Q. Will you need to take anything special with you on the walk, special equipment, energy boosting snacks or some foot soak to aid those aching feet?
There’s nothing really that special but volumes are quite impressive; 55 Ordnance Survey maps, 140 AA batteries etc. The 3 most important bits of equipment are my boots, a Garmin GPS navigator, and a GPS tracker that broadcasts my position every hour.
But, without question, the single most important aspect is my wife, Hazel. She is my total support and has to find us somewhere to stay every day, figure out how to get some laundry done, update the blog, prepare a packed lunch, handle all emails and calls, and deal with any emergencies.
All that and keep me going mentally and physically. I know which of us has got the easier part of this.
Q. What has been the best thing about taking on an adventure like this?
I alluded to it earlier. Seeing how generous people can be, both with things and in spirit, has been hugely uplifting. Sometimes when you watch the news it’s easy to think that the World is falling apart and we might as well just give up. There are indeed lots of things that aren’t great, but there’s even more that is fantastically good. We just need a reminder now and again, and preparing for this adventure has certainly done that for us.
To follow Chris’s journey and to track his progress as his adventure unfolds, check out his blog here
To celebrate the end of the walk and to say thank you to the many people who have given us fantastic support we are holding a celebration dinner. This should be a fabulous evening and includes a 3 course meal, entertainment, music, and a final chance to help the 3 charities via some fun fundraising activities.
Venue: Sindlesham Court
Date: Friday 1st July, 2016
Cost: £50 per head or £400 for a table of 10.
To request tickets or for more information please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org