I went to meet Professor Helen Dawes from Department of Sport and Health Sciences – Oxford Brookes. What they are doing is amazing, and I won’t even try to explain. I have taken a video instead, letting her talk about the work that they do, and why we are very happy indeed that we have met her and her wonderful team…..
A busy few days, with both highs and lows. Had a really good chat with Jim from Mactra Marine Equipment, who are supplying our electric and hand operated desalinator that will provide us with freshwater during the crossing. Jim lent one to one of the competitors in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic challenge, and should have it back in his talented hands now. He will service and test it before sending to Charlie at Rannoch Adventure to be fitted in the boat. Jim is a great guy, and very supportive of what Alex has already accomplished. He is also going to give both of us a tutorial in how to maintain both desalinators, so that we will be able to repair them should anything go wrong while at sea.
I had a chat with Joel from OverBoard – The Leaders in Waterproof Bags & Cases, and they have also come on board as product sponsors, providing different types of waterproof containers/bags to protect all the different gadgets and gizmo’s we will have on board. I met Joel at the London Boat show, and Overboard are also helping out Team Boatylicious with gear as well. It’s great to find another company that believe in the sport of Ocean rowing, and are happy to support those who are adventurous enough to try it!!
On Thursday evening I had a meeting with members of The Oxfordshire Project in Witney. I have spoken about this group before, and how much I enjoy being involved with them. They are a collective of Oxfordshire based businesses/companies, that believe in operating in an ethical manner, and I have always come away from their meetings feeling good. Ben Molyneux, who started the collective and has been a great source of help and information, has brought together a group of like minded people from within the project to try and start a charitable arm of the Oxfordshire Project, with the aim of helping lots of different causes in whatever way that they can, while also helping people learn new skills along the way.
While both Alex and myself are still confident in what we are doing, I don’t think that either of us could have foreseen the difficulties that we would encounter with raising money to finance Row The Pacific 2014, and I would be lying if I said that we can do this on our own, without any outside help. The people that I met on Thursday evening were an extremely positive and altruistic group, and very interested in Alex and what he is trying to do. Many have offered their help in trying to promote us and with trying to raise the finance that we so desperately need. As a result of that evening, I now have a meeting on Monday morning with a chap called Mike Cilliers who has offered to try and help in the finance department. Obviously, he cannot guarantee anything, but I will let you know how it goes…
The Pacific Row 2014 story starts a year ago today. That’s a lot to catch up on, but I will try and fill you in with all the major events that have occurred since then as I go along.
When I was 11 years old, one of the friends that I made at school was Alex Flynn. We got on pretty well, but it was only when we both attended Henley College together that we became good friends through a love of rock music and long hair. We hung out a lot, listened to music, talked about girls and eventually got a band together, with Alex as the front man and me playing the guitar. It was a great couple of years, and we had some really good times, but after I was asked to leave Henley for the second time (that’s another story…), we drifted apart and I didn’t really hear about what Alex was up to for many many years.
Alex came back into my life through Facebook. I was not a great social media user, but on one of the rare occasions that I was online, I saw Alex’s name on a mutual friend’s account, and decided to see what he was up to these days.
What he was up to, in his own unique way, was dealing with the fact that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2008, at the age of 36.
The way that he was dealing with it was by running his own campaign, called 10 million meters (www.alexflynn.co.uk), to raise the public’s awareness of the disease as well as funds for the Cure Parkinson’s Trust. The idea behind it was to run, walk, cycle, climb and even crawl, if need be, 10 million meters in accredited endurance events between August 2009 and January 2014.
I couldn’t believe some of the things that he had achieved. In June 2011 he ran from London to Rome (1,457 miles) in 30 days. 30 days!! The first 10 days he was running 2 marathons back to back. Who does that? It gets better. In September he carried out his own Trans America Challenge. He ran, cycled, rowed and climbed 3,256 miles from the west to the east coast of the states, and he did it all in 35 days.
As soon as I had read all this, I got in touch with Alex. It’s funny, I don’t remember saying anything about that I was sorry about his diagnosis, all we spoke about was what he had done, and what he was going to do.
We kept in touch, and I soon decided that I wanted to take part in some kind of event alongside him. I came up with the Atlantic rowing Race. It was something that I had always wanted to do, and seemed to fit in well with the types of endurance challenges that he seemed to enjoy so much (The Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge is often cited as being the toughest endurance race in the world…). I played around with the idea, and a year ago today, I found myself calling Alex while standing on the platform at Oxford railway station. I remember it was very frosty, and that I had just come off a night shift at work. I also remember thinking that I was already halfway to the start line in my own mind, so very excited about this plan of mine and how Alex and I were going to go on this great adventure together and help people to boot.
The phone rang, Alex answered, and I excitedly told him about my plan, about how we were going to row the Atlantic together, to prove that we could take on the toughest race in the world and beat it. I talked on and on, as I am wont to do when I get excited about something, explaining all my thoughts about how we were going to achieve this, how we were going to work together and make so much money for the Cure Parkinson’s trust, as well as raising awareness of Parkinson’s. I eventually finished my monologue, and asked him what he thought. He said no……