Every so often in life it's good to do things outside your comfort zone. Today I signed up for something that is so far outside mine that I'm announcing it here to make sure that I don't try to sneak out of it later.
I've decided to do this year's Trans-Britain Ultra event in September. It’s a six-day, six-stage ultra race starting near Gretna Green and finishing in Ruthin, Wales, via Cumbia and North Yorkshire, covering 156 miles and five (or is it six?) peaks along the way.
I feel exhausted just typing the details. Oh, and did I mention that you carry all your gear (apart from a tent) on your back?
I’ll be doing it to raise money for a charity, Teach Africa, which works with teenage girls from the slums of Nairobi. The race organiser, Steve Adams, set it up in 2005 and I have a personal interest in supporting it because I lived in east Africa for a time during 2002-2003.
I also have a personal interest in another charity that I’m doing a double challenge for over the next couple of months. I was homeless for a time when I was younger and became very actively involved in squatting and other housing campaigns. I went on to work in short-life housing for a few years and edited the housing charity Shelter’s magazine Roof for a short time at the beginning of my career as a journalist and writer.
This Thursday (25 February) I'm doing the first leg of a double sponsorship challenge for Shelter. Vertical Rush involves running up 42 floors, 900-odd stairs, to the top of the highest building in the City of London. Two months later I’m using my oh-so-precious London Marathon place, held over from last year when I had to pull out due to injury, as the second leg of the challenge.
You can support my Shelter fundraising here. More about Teach Africa later.