Thursday, 16 July 2015

First Europe Support Team Meeting

The chances of me running 3400 miles across Europe in 100 days are currently very slim to say the least. That might sound a tad defeatist but I felt exactly the same at this stage prior to the runs across the USA and Australia. 

It's not all doom and gloom, however. With less than 300 days to go before the next segment around the world starts there is still time to do things that will improve my chances. The first thing I'm doing is to meet regularly with the support team. The first meeting was held recently at the Jury's Inn in Gateshead.

By the time everyone on the team starts their tour of duty in Europe it is very important that they know the importance of their role, what it involves and the high and consistent standards that are expected to be maintained. 

Present at the meeting were Sports Therapist Jason "Stobbsy" Stobbs pictured below (middle) with  myself (left) and James "Jimmy" Childs (right). 

Stobbsy will put plans for his impending wedding to one side and join the tour in the French Alps during mid June. He'll really have his work cut out to keep me in 1 piece as I tackle climbs such as d'Alpe d'Huez, Col du Galibier, Col du Telegraphe, lacets de Montvernier, Col de la Madeleine and Col de l'Iseran to name but a few.

Jimmy has put in a huge amount of hours in recent months refining my initial route and checking it for safety. He's added bits on here and shaved bits off there. He's got me some rest days at strategic points and increased the mileage where necessary on other parts of the route.

Jimmy will be charged with driving the RV from Newcastle to Lisbon and will be present on the "kick off" team during the first week. He'll return for the final 10 days to Istanbul as part of the "anchor" team. It's a good job he likes driving as he'll also be bringing the RV back to Newcastle from Istanbul. Jimmy has also recently started jogging in an attempt to get fit enough to accompany me for a few miles.

Also in attendance at the meeting was my wife Donna pictured above with Andrew Skelton. Donna will ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible from Run Geordie Run HQ in the UK before joining the "anchor" team for the final 2 weeks. Donna will liaise, where necessary, with the relevant consulates across Europe, carry out numerous social media duties, act as account manager during the run with the various sponsors and basically fix anything that requires fixing. The buck stops with her on most things away from actual running.

Andrew will be joining the team at various points still to be decided in Europe and will be driving the RV, cooking, cleaning and keeping me company with a few miles here and there. Those jobs may not sound as important as say Jimmy's route planning, Stobbsy's sports therapy or Donna's logistical duties. Make no mistake, they are just as important! As has been proven in the past, any weak link in any aspect of the support team and life becomes very difficult on the road and the chances of success decrease.

Like Jimmy, Andrew has also recently started jogging in an attempt to get in shape and help me get through some miles.

Malcolm Nichol (pictured above) will be joining the tour with his wife Nickela (pictured below right) probably in the Pyrenees. These 2 are a very positive and outgoing couple and their motivation during the tough mountainous stages will be of vital importance.

Carlton Fletcher (pictured above) completed the list of attendees at the meeting. Carlton will be on the "anchor" team with Donna and Jimmy. His previous experiences of the run across the USA and Australia will no doubt stand us in good stead. Carlton is an innovative thinker and is almost certain to provide maximum comedy value which will help when the going gets tough. 

I was 4.5 days behind schedule with only 14 days left of the run across the USA when Carlton joined the team. We lost a further 16 miles but clawed back a whopping 148 miles while Carlton was on duty in the USA. He's the obvious choice for the final 2 weeks in Europe along with Donna and Jimmy.

Not in attendance were Mark, Rachel and Richard. I'll talk more about them and their roles on the team in the coming months. In the meantime, thanks to the manager (pictured with us above) of the Jury's Inn, Gateshead, for letting us use the brilliant meeting room facilities.