Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Holloway Hill x 50

How did you spend your Saturday? Hopefully not quite as strenuously as Mrs M and I did....
Somewhat bizarrely I'd volunteered to walk up and down Holloway Hill, a picturesque but naggingly demanding incline on the southern side of Godalming. 50 times.
Why? It just seemed like a "fun" fundraising idea to highlight in the article that we were lucky enough to have published in the Godalming Times last week. Thanks to Beverley Woolford we ended up covering most of the front page, clutching our Kili guide books and sporting our distinctive World Vision t-shirts.
Mrs M was a little shocked to see in print "the couple will start the climb at 11:00.." but she didn't back down. Thanks Gill.
And spot on the appointed hour we started climbing, orange World Vision collecting tin, Kili50 fliers, convincing story and encouraging smiles at the ready. Fuel, in the shape of bananas, water and mountains of cereal bars, was stashed in the nearby motor.
I'd thrown together a couple of Holloway Hill-o-meter lap counters, which we Blu-tacked to the faded HH road sign at the bottom and pinned to a sturdy tree trunk at the top, just after the vicious camber on St. Hilary's school drive.

Ticking off each ascent and descent turned out to be a critical motivational tool - it's much easier to focus on the next 5 laps, or getting to the half way point, than just to imagine the whole painful 50 stretching out in front of you.
We also quickly realised that we wouldn't both have time to accost each passer by AND complete the challenge. Somehow I got the climbing duties and Mrs M focused on the fundraising, using her feminine wiles and selling skills to maximum effect.
We completed the 50th lap at 5:30 so, after a quick 30 minute pit stop at home for reviving rib-sticking soup after the half time whistle, the whole climb took 6 hours. Yikes.
I reckon it was 15 miles in total, constantly pounding up and down on joint-punishing tarmac and concrete. And according to our friend Jimbo's hi-tec watch, 30m of ascent each lap, so 1,500m in total.
Kili is 5,895 high and with our Machame route starting at 1,800m, we'll be ascending 4,000m. So on Saturday Gill and I climbed about 40% of what we'll need to next February if we get to the top of Kili. Not quite the same risk of altitude sickness in Godalming, granted, and we didn't see any Colobus monkeys...but quite satisfying nevertheless. And knackering.
Thanks to generous Godalmingers we raised the grand total of £96.50 - and a dodgy Swedish coin. Not a huge amount but another small step towards the £25,000 summit, and not bad considering it was a cold grey English winter's day.
We were blown away by the extent of everyone's generosity, awareness and interest, helped no doubt by the Godalming Times article. Kids gave up pocket money, oldsters who have struggled up HH for years surrendered much-needed change, and more affluent walkers folded up notes and tried to squeeze them into the tiny slot (note to World Vision: please make it bigger!). Several people drove by in their cars just because they had read about us, and passed some dosh through the window as they rode the clutch on the steep incline. Perhaps England isn't quite a lost cause after all...
Post mortem? Gill - back and knee twinges; slight feeling of being railroaded. Me - calves, shins and soles all screaming, but mollified by a cup of tea and a Cadbury's cream egg while luxuriating in a hot bath.
Our Hill-o-meter is still nailed to the tree at the top of HH, with a tired scribbled note of thanks to the generous people of Godalming.
Crazy? Definitely. But rewarding.


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