Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Stage five debrief

This afternoon I had a debrief of stage five of the run Around The World with David Fairlamb. Some excellent points were raised and valuable lessons have been learned. It’s this kind of analysis that will ultimately shape the remaining journey around the planet. 

It was interesting to note how stage five compared to the runs across the UK, USA, Australia and Europe. Every event so far has had its positives and negatives. While each route has had different kinds of challenges there are definitely common themes throughout. For me, the mental battle of these multi month events remains the biggest challenge. I wouldn’t say that I’m better prepared for the mental battle but I’m definitely aware that I expect to have a fight on my hands. Especially, towards the closing stages of an event. Australia still remains the lowest point mentally. 

Behind John O’Groats to Lands End, this last stage probably saw me cope much better mentally. The major contributory factor here was the amount of unplanned local support in various places. Without doubt, the daily interaction with the Serbians, Romanians and Ukrainians had a huge positive impact on my morale.

The amount of comments and feedback on the Facebook page also helped. Support on Twitter was much less than previous years. 

The logistics behind each stage are getting more and more difficult and I think this is my major weakness. Particularly so where customs and visa issues are concerned. Getting Chappie in and out of various countries efficiently and in keeping with customs/border legislation is going to require massive improvement and better solutions next time. I can’t expect to have any reasonable guidance and assistance from a freight company. The buck stops with me on that one. 

There are so many positives to bear in mind. Physically, I stood up to the task from Belgrade to Kiev. My final plan gave me the best chance of getting a decent distance further around the planet and only 200 miles from the half way point. This was the stage where the final outcome differed massively from what I set out to do. No amount of training in the UK could have prepared me for life in a buggy. It was only getting out there and trying it out that showed me what was possible and what wasn’t. 

Progress on stage five was hampered by the amount of time I spent with local people. I don’t necessarily see this as a negative. Being able to talk to community groups, schools, universities and the foreign national media about my journey can only be a good thing. Even though this doesn’t necessarily yield funds for St Benedict’s Hospice, I need to give thought to similar engagement going forward. 

It was, without doubt, a much more difficult journey without a motor home and a support team. More difficult doesn’t necessarily mean better. I personally found it a fascinating challenge to run unsupported. I think those that followed the journey bought into this also. Social media engagement and website hits were massively up on previous years. Despite that, I failed to convert this interest to donations. I don’t know why this was the case. What I will say though is that my gratitude to those who did donate and have done so in previous years is considerable. If you donated in 2018 or 2008 or even 1998, I don’t forget about it and it’s hugely appreciated. Public support is something that I will never take for granted. 

As well as public support, the commercial backing from SOS Group Ltd, FFG Logistics, Chapman Ventilation, Brooks, D-Line, Active Edge, Virgin Money proved to be the difference between the success and failure of stage five. That support got me to the start line and will, hopefully, see the final total raised reach close to £60,000 by the end of the year. 

So, lots of lessons learned. Some issues that I don’t have answers to just yet. Lots of positives. Lots of great memories. The desire to raise funds for St Benedict’s Hospice is as strong as it was back in 1994.

I’ve got a similar de-brief meeting with my main sponsor, SOS, later this week. That’s an opportunity to thank them in person as well as talk about the various aspects of stage five. 

Once the Great North Run and the Around The World Ball have passed, Donna and I will then take time to reflect on this current campaign. We must ensure that we keep on doing what we do well in certain areas and make sure to improve in areas that need improvement.