What is the Arch to Arc?

The Arch to Arc is a mega-triathlon from Marble Arch in London to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It involves an 87 mile ultra-marathon run from London to Dover, a 21mile swim across the English Channel and then a 181mile bike ride from Calais to Paris. When it is raced in a relay format it is classically done by 6 individuals doing an hour of exercise and then 5 hours off. Vickie and I will be the first 2 person team to attempt the Arch to Arc and we intend to break the 40hour barrier which will challenge some of the fastest 6-person relay teams. To make it even more unique Vickie will do the entire 87mile run, I will do the Channel swim and we will relay the bike ride (got to play to our strengths, plus I don't like running).

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

There is no telling how many miles you will have to run while chasing a dream - My 2015 Challenge - The Arch to Arc

This morning I led the school assembly to tell the girls I teach and my colleagues at Cheltenham Ladies’ College all about the Arch to Arc challenge that Ollie and I will be attempting later this summer.  I thought I’d post a copy of the script on to the blog as it provides an insight into why I was keen to take on this mammoth challenge!  Enjoy!

“I’ve asked Rev McClure if she will let me lead Prayers this morning to tell you all about my big personal challenge for 2015.  Now, those of you who know me well will be aware that I’m really keen on the sports of duathlon (run/bike/run) and triathlon (swim/bike/run).  The shortest triathlon event (called sprint distance) takes me about an hour to complete, the Olympic distance event takes just over 2 hours to complete, but my favourite distances – half IM and IM – take about 5 and 10 hours to complete respectively. 
Having competed at a few amateur level World Championships over varying distances in these sports at the end of last season I was on the lookout for a new challenge for 2015 – something along the lines of what I enjoy most – training in the outdoors – but with a difference.  I decided on ultra-marathon running (that is anything over the marathon distance of 26.2 miles) and my husband and I decided to team up to complete an ultra-endurance event together (as he is a really keen marathon swimmer).  We decided on signing up for an event called the Arch to Arc.  It involves me running 87 miles from Marble Arch in London to Dover.  Here I’ll team tag my husband Ollie who will swim 21 miles across the English Channel, hopefully ending up as near to Calais as possible.  From there we will cycle 181 miles to the Arc du Triomphe in Paris. So, a total of 289 miles, as fast as possible, and under 33 hours if we want to beat the 6-man team world record!
I’m well aware that some of you will think I’m totally mad for loving these sports so much and you are probably asking yourself ‘why does she do/enjoy that!?!’  Well there are two main reasons why I’ve committed myself to the months of dedicated training that is necessary to complete an event of this nature.

Firstly, I’m doing it for my dad.  He’s been fighting against Pancreatic cancer for 7 years.  Overall, only about 5% of patients with this type of cancer will be alive 5 years after the cancer is found, so my dad is really lucky.  Unfortunately, for many years, pancreatic cancer has received little research funding and attention.  Pancreatic cancer charities are determined to change this and I’m hoping that any money I raise will go towards are funding and promoting cutting edge research into early detection and more effective treatments.  We are also raising money for The Shark Trust, which is a charity working to advance the worldwide conservation of sharks.  As an open water swimmer Ollie is really keen on marine conservation.  I believe he had an ulterior motive when choosing this charity, however.  When he is completing some of his cross-channel swims in countries such as Hawaii and Australia I recon he thinks that supporting this charity might offer him some protection from what lurks beneath!  We are also supporting a local charity – The Sanford Parks Lido, the Cheltenham 50m open air pool.

Secondly, I’m doing it because I love running and cycling in the outdoors.  I love getting out into the hills and running the trails, especially with my 2 dogs.  I love the challenge of training my body, pushing myself to achieve new goals, trying to see if I can extend my limits (both physically and mentally) through my sport.  I’m a bit of a running geek I’m afraid – I really enjoy analysing my training – how fast can I do my reps? - how fast will my HR recover? – how long can I hold a set pace for?

However, training for an event of this magnitude has NOT been easy.  There has been a major setback along the way for me.  Back in December I had a nasty fall out running and split my knee open.  A bad infection and an inflammatory condition called cellulitis resulted in absolutely no running for 8 weeks – consequently I am seriously behind schedule with my training and I have missed 2 out of my 5 main preparation races.  

When tackling an event like this I know that things will go wrong.  As I run through my 87 mile journey in August it will not all be plain sailing – however hard I have worked to prepare myself.  Just like it will not all be plain sailing for you as you go on your journey through life here at College and through your teenage years.  I guess how to cope when things don’t quite go according to plan is something that is worth considering.
Here are some tips I use myself and would like to encourage you to use too:
  • Know how to adjust your goals.  Successful people don’t give up that easily.  Be adaptable, resilient and determined to go on.  Have a plan B!
  • Be a realistic optimist.  Make sure your glass is always half full – not half empty.  Be grateful for what you have already achieved and focus on your successes.
  • Learn from your failure.  The Dalai Lama said “When you lose, don’t lose the lesson”.  If successful people fail it means that they were prepared to move out of their comfort zone and take calculated risks.  There is a lesson from every failure; accept it, move on and apply the lesson to future projects.
  • Remember that failure is a prelude to success.  My coach once said to me patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success!  Remember this.
  • Ask for help and advice.  Be wise and brave enough to seek advice from friends or mentors.
  • Be persistent and courageous.  Remember that your limits are not necessarily where you think they are.
  • Know when it’s OK to slow down and take a break.  Pace yourselves.  Sometimes you need to sit back, slow down and regroup.  One thing that I will be remembering on my run is that the race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running.
  • Remember that life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb but how well you bounce.

I hope that by applying some of these ideas you learn you can do your best even when it's hard, even when you're tired and maybe hurting a little bit.  It feels good to show some courage.

I’d like to read you my favourite motivational poem by Rudyard Kipling.  It’s called ‘If’.

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!”

Finally, I’d like to leave you all with this thought:
With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.

Please feel free to follow my progress on www.teamwilkoA2A.blogspot – I’ll be blogging and there will be an update of how my 1st preparation race “The Brecon Beacons 40m Ultra” goes at the end of this month.

No comments:

Post a Comment