Leaving for the MdS Tomorrow…

Posted by on 11:17 AM in Blog

Once again, I would like to thank everyone who has sponsored me to do this – I really appreciate it. Here’s an article released today by a fellow MdS runner and Bloomberg Journalist Alex Morales, talking about his preparation for the race and quoting others (including me) about their prep as well  – http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-02/these-people-are-trying-to-run-155-miles-through-the-sahara-desert  See you on the other side! Share this...

Almost there…

Posted by on 9:48 AM in Blog

Hi to all,   I just had my last training session before the big event, in a heat chamber at Kingston University.  1 hour of running and cycling at 38 degrees C and 10 degrees humidity and I am feeling ok.  I lost 2.4kg through perspiration in that hour which I am told is very good.  Apparently someone before me just couldn’t sweat and therefore can’t cool down, so I guess growing up in Africa has its advantages!   That hour is just a little taster of what is to come. I’m leaving this coming Friday morning to Morocco to start my 6 marathons/ 250km over 6 days and it’s all starting to feel very real. I want to give a big thank you to all of those who have supported my charity (Hope for Children), in particular ETX Capital and most importantly Caroline and my boys who would like to see a bit more of me when I get back.   Share this...

Race Shoes; Picking up the Pace

Posted by on 3:22 PM in Blog

Hi All I received my race shoes in the post last weekend; the most important purchase for the event if I want to avoid blisters.  Took them for test run on Saturday with my 9 year old Riley who joined me for 20km of the 30km on his bike. I also ran with my pack with its full race weight of 10 kgs and spent at least 8km of it running on the beach ……. and survived!  That’s the closest I’ve gotten so far to duplicating 1 of the six days and I felt more or less ok.   I will be getting Velcro fitted to the shoes next so that I can fit gaiters to them when in the desert to keep the sand out.   There’s around 5 weeks to go now and it’s time to pick up the pace. I need to increase my weekly training to about 50km; on top of that I’ll need another 6 hours of cross trainer / cycling / rowing / weights to preserve my knees.   In the week up to the event I will be doing heat chamber training sessions at Kingston university where we try to simulate an extremely high temperature environment whilst running and cycling for an hour.    Thanks again to everyone for supporting my charity and stay tuned. Share this...

Devizes to Westminster 2015

Posted by on 10:20 AM in Blog

Andrew isn’t the only member of the ETX Capital team to be undertaking an impressive trial of fitness and endurance; our SEO Specialist Mike Webb (1999 World Champion in Dragon Boat Racing with Team GB) is about to test the waters in a canoe race like no other – dwrace.org.uk. Over the Easter weekend of 2015 I will be competing in the Annual Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race, more commonly known as the DW. The race has been described as the canoeists’ “Everest” with 125 miles of canal and river raced non-stop in sometimes the most challenging of conditions. The race is so physically and mentally tough that between a quarter and a third of the boats that start the race fail to finish.   Each year the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race starts in Devizes, Wiltshire and finishes just downstream of Westminster Bridge in central London, on the South Bank. The race has been held annually over the Easter Weekend since 1948. The race is 125 miles long and has 77 portages. The first 52 miles are along the Kennet and Avon Canal to Reading, the next 55 miles are on the River Thames to Teddington. The final 17 mile section is on the tidal portion of the Thames. The race is a severe test of skill, physical and mental stamina and planning which produces a memorable sense of achievement for those successfully completing it.   I have completed this race twice before in 2012 (31st overall) and 2013 (24th overall) but racing in a two-man racing canadian canoe (C2). This year I’ll be competing in the same class – senior doubles – but in a two-man racing kayak (K2) with a new partner and we’re hoping for a top ten finish.   There are 7 warm-up races that lead up to the DW which gives competitors the chance to practice most of the course, which is essential for first-timers as usually at least half of the DW is done at night.   To give you a bit more background about me, I have been kayak racing for over 20 years and have competed nationally. My partner Rob has been racing for nearly 10 years and has done the DW 7 times, finishing 5 of them.   The First Race   On 4th January was the first race. A mere 13 mile race with 3 portages from Weybridge to Richmond – The Frank Luzmore Memorial Race. The weather was predictably wintery at only about 2C and a decent amount of fog. Rob and I are not exactly young so we entered the Veterans category to get a more competitive race, and that’s exactly what we got. On the start line we were promptly absorbed in to the leading group and after 2 miles managed to break free in a sprint with another crew. We stayed with them for another 4 miles before being unceremoniously dropped. We expended a decent amount of energy trying to stay with them to get a good lead on the chasing group. The inevitable happened and all those mince pies over Christmas suddenly affected our fitness and they steadily caught us with a few miles to go. In the end we finished a creditable 3rd out of 19 crews in a time of 1:27:06.   The Second...

Andrew’s ETX Challenge Update: Preparing for the Marathon des Sables

Posted by on 5:48 PM in Blog

Hi there,   Firstly I want to say a very big thank you to all those who have sponsored me so far, it’s going to a great cause. Now that we’ve hit 2015 and the race is drawing ever nearer I just wanted to check in and let you all know how things are going. Well, firstly my knees are still just about holding out (although there’s still 10 weeks to go, so fingers crossed). At the moment I’m currently running about 60k a week, as well as doing another of 4-6 hours of cycling or cross trainer specifically to take some of the pressure off the knee joints. Last weekend was a real wake-up call for me – I ran 20k on both Saturday and Sunday, but I did it with an 8kg pack on my back, which really helped me to re-evaluate which carry items are ‘luxuries’ and which are necessities. The real emphasis has to be on food (since we’re meant to carry all of our victuals for the period) and comfort at night (sleep can make a real difference to the next day’s performance). So, I’ll be carrying a minimum of 2,500 calories for each day, a sleeping bag and mat as well as a blow-up pillow (the mat and pillow may sound like luxuries, but imagine running a marathon in heat and over sand-dunes while carrying a heavy pack and also having to cope with a bad back and neck – not something I really want to risk). I’ll also have the following; A stove and cooking pot Medical and compulsory survival kits Extra clothes for the evening (seasoned MdS runners may be used to it, but the temperature plummets at night) A head torch for the double marathon which takes place over a day and a night Sunglasses with a sandstorm gasket A fair amount of tape for taping up knees and feet (an absolute must for MdS runners) The 2 litres of water that we receive at each checkpoint Bear in mind that the all the above materials have to fit into my 20 litre pack. My wife Caroline has suggested that next week I go on a diet to shed a few pounds – she’s probably not wrong! After all, 95 kilos plus my 10kg pack at 50 degrees centigrade for 6 marathons is a lot to expect of my body. However, I’m happy to say that I’m off to Val d’Isere for a weekend skiing with the boys, so that’s next week’s problem! Thanks again for your support,   Andrew Share this...

Hope for children

Posted by on 10:21 AM in Blog

By supporting Andrew, you’ll be helping him raise money for Hope for Children, a charity which provides much needed aid on three different continents to tens of thousands of children and their families. Hope’s areas of operation include health & sanitation, education, abuse prevention and the construction of communal resources such as schools and medical centres. Hope works largely through partnerships with Non-Governmental organisations and throughout its 20 year history has endeavoured to make sure that donor money goes straight to the people who need it most. Share this...

Chris’s Channel Swim Challenge

Posted by on 10:59 AM in Blog

From fixing computers to front crawl, IT analyst Chris will be swimming the length of the Channel. Here at ETX Capital, it’s not just our adventurous CEO who is undertaking an impressive challenge in the name of charity (check out Andrew’s ETX Challenge), but also our Senior IT Support Analyst Chris Curtis. In just a few weeks’ time Chris will be taking part in the Aspire Channel Swim Challenge, which will involve swimming the equivalent length of the Channel in just five days. The English Channel is 22 miles long; this means that he will be swimming around 4.5 miles a day consecutively, which is between 2 and a half and 3 hours each day. The challenge is part of the initiative organised by Aspire, a charity which provides valuable support to sufferers of spinal cord injuries in the form of grants, equipment, and specialist technology amongst other things. In the UK, someone sustains a spinal cord injury every 8 hours. Such injuries are impossible to prepare for and are often very difficult to recover from. Every year, thousands of people rely on the support and guidance of charities like Aspire to help them to live happily and independently. Chris had been dealing with spinal problems himself for over a decade, after suffering a serious rugby injury. He had several operations, with his most major spinal surgery taking place on the 29th October last year. It was a surgery with serious potential risks; 1 in 20 people who undergo the operation suffer from some form of reduced mobility and 1 in 200 suffer from paralysis. Luckily Chris’s surgery was a success and he hasn’t experienced any lasting problems since the operation. The swimming pool was the place where Chris literally took the biggest steps towards recovery, as this was where he learnt to walk again. He began walking in the pool in January and started swimming again in February, and so this challenge seemed like a fitting opportunity for him to raise money and support others who have not been as lucky as him. Chris had his operation almost exactly a year ago now, and so what better way to mark the occasion than by swimming the length of the Channel? Chris has been working hard to train for this ambitious challenge, fitting in sessions at the pool either before or after work most days. The longest swim he’s done so far in one go is 9.5 km, so he’s well on his way to success. Participants have 12 weeks to complete the length of the Channel, from September 8th to December 1st. However, Chris has bravely decided to allow himself just the last five days to swim the entire 22 miles. All of us at ETX have a great deal of admiration for Chris and we’re behind him all the way. So far he’s managed to raise £390, but he’s hoping to raise £1,000 to donate to this fantastic cause. If you would like to support Chris and the Aspire charity, please sponsor him here: www.justgiving.com/chriscurtis1986. Share this...

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