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……