The Permanent War


And so the war continues. This is not a new war we have entered today. This is the same war. A permanent war.

Two years ago Cameron attempted to take us into war as allies of ISIS against the Syrian government. Today, having apparently worked out which side we should be on, he takes us into a war against ISIS, supposedly now as allies of the Syrian government. Just like he asked us to believe that ISIS forces were “moderate” two years ago, we are now expected to believe that the 70,000 Syrian rebels are all “moderate” too.

It was only one month ago that Cameron said Russia’s bombing campaign will “lead to further radicalisation and increased terrorism.” But now, because it has become politically convenient to warmonger once more, Cameron calls all those who oppose indiscriminate bombing as “terrorist sympathisers”. His chilling attack echoes the words of Hermann Goering at the Nuremberg Tribunal: “The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and then denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger.” We therefore witness the perverse situation in which it is the man leading the campaign against war who is branded the extremist.

But in a world that has become so extreme, the term ‘extremist’ has now lost all meaning. Bashar al-Assad is an ally despite having murdered many times more civilians than the extremists. Saudi Arabia is is an ally despite having carried out a far greater number of beheadings than the extremists. Turkey is an ally despite buying oil from the extremists to fund their operation. We consider ourselves a ‘peace maker’ despite continuing to supply arms that end up in the hands of the extremists. ISIS hasn’t come from nowhere. ISIS isn’t funded by nobody. ISIS doesn’t sell it’s oil to nobody. ISIS doesn’t receive it’s arms from nowhere.

Yet the debate is reduced to a ridiculous binary choice: ‘bomb’ or ‘do nothing’. There are many better alternatives to bombing. We can cut off their supply of arms. We can cut off their supply of money. We can resolve the civil war through a political settlement to minimise the chaos in which ISIS thrives. And we can support humanitarian action to support refugees rather than pushing them back into the hands of ISIS. There is only one rule in conflict: do what your enemy LEAST wants you to do. Today we are doing what they MOST want us to do.

We’re now in the fifteenth year of the ‘War on Terror’. The UK has taken part in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria. Given the current terror threat it is obvious that these wars have not achieved their aims. But no amount of bombing can destroy an ideology. The ‘allied’ forces have already dropped many thousands of bombs on Syria, but the ideology only grows stronger. Over the course of this bombing campaign ISIS numbers have increased from an estimated 20,000 in 2014 to around 80,000 this year. Saudi Arabia alone has 84 F15E Strike Eagles, 70 F15C Eagles, 16 F15D Eagles, 72 Eurofighter Typhoons and 80 Panavia Tornados – as well as the Paveway laser-guided bombs and Brimstone missiles which we sold them. But we are expected to believe that the 8 Tornados we will use to strike Syria are going to suddenly change the situation and propel 70,000 anti-ISIS fighters into taking the country.

But we’ll drop bombs nonetheless and so the cycle of hate continues. Allies react to extremism by bombing middle eastern targets. Middle eastern targets are destroyed and civilians die. The actions of the allies angers people whose lives have been destroyed. Some of these people become radicalised by extremist groups. Allied based manufacturers supply arms to the extremists. Extremists use applied supplied weapons to attack western targets. And the cycle of hate starts once again.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Yet the cycle of hate shows no signs of being broken. Because the war must go on. The Permanent War.

8 Reasons Why I’m Voting Green Today…

Green Party UK logo I’m proud to be voting Green today. Here are 8 main reasons why…

1. Ending ‘austerity’ programmes which are forcing the poorest to pay for a crisis created by the financial sector.
2. Protecting our NHS and ending the widespread privatisation of our pubic services, as well as bringing the railways and energy production back into public ownership.
3. Introduction of a Living Wage and Citizens Income to tackle poverty and ensure we no longer subsidise companies’ employment costs.
4. Opposition to TTIP (the highly secretive UK-US trade deal which will grant corporations the power to sue governments for policies that affect potential profits).
5. Real monetary reform including removing the power to create money away from private banks.
6. Introduction of a ‘Robin Hood’ Financial Transactions Tax to reduce damaging high frequency trading and ensure the financial sector pays its way (would raise over £20bn in the UK only).
7. Closing tax loopholes to ensure companies pay tax on all profits earned in the UK.
8. A genuine commitment to tackle climate change including investment into renewable energy and opposition to fracking.

Overall, I believe in supporting a party which works for the common good, not just the good of a tiny few. The Greens are currently the only party with a long term economic policy which moves us away from unsustainable growth dependence towards a steady-state economy where we work within the physical limits of our one planet.

I hope you join me in voting Green today as we urgently need more progressive voices to be heard within politics. But most of all I hope you use your vote. Remember – “The price of apathy is to be ruled by evil men” (Plato). A great many have fought and died to bring us the freedom to vote. So please make sure you all use yours today – even if it’s only to spoil your ballet paper in protest.

10 Challenges 4 Cancer: A Progress Update

At the start of 2013 I set out to complete ten adventurous endurance challenges across multiple disciplines that would push me to, and beyond, my physical limits. Why? To raise at least £2000 for the Association of International Cancer Research (AICR) whilst embracing the spirit of adventure!

So far I’ve managed to successfully complete three of the challenges. Firstly, my friend Liam and I climbed the height of Everest in a tower block (involving over 17 hours of stair climbing!)…

Secondly, I cycled 150 miles in 48 hours from Sheffield to my mum’s house in south Wales. And thirdly, my girlfriend Amy and I spent a week walking 150 miles across Ireland

By now, I’d also hoped to have completed my mock Ironman event involving cycling 112 miles, swimming 2.4 miles and running the London Marathon over three consecutive days. Unfortunately I had to postpose this due to a torn knee ligament which put me out of action for a couple of months. However I aim to undertake this challenge in April 2014.

I also had to abandon my attempt to complete the Welsh 3000s Challenge due to dangerous weather conditions.  An unrelenting torrential deluge and 80 mph winds meant it just wasn’t feasible to tackle the knife-edge ridges of Snowdonia. So, although climbing Snowdon at night in those weather conditions was an achievement in itself, I still hope to complete the Welsh 3000s Challenge in 2014.

But now, with the cricket season drawing to a close (and my weekends soon to be free once again), I’m planning to get busy completing a few more challenges.

On 7th September, I’ll be tacking on Tough Mudder. Described as “probably the toughest event on the planet” it’s a “hardcore 12 mile-long obstacle course designed by the Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie”. The various obstacles will involve (amongst other things) mud, fire, ice-water, and 10,000 volts of electricity! Here’s a sneak peek of what I’ll be taking on…

Later in September I’m also planning to kayak over 60 miles from Sheffield to the sea (or at least until the Humber estuary). This will be my first ever long distance kayak journey (first kayak journey of any sorts for that matter!).

Then, later in the year, I’ll be walking in my great-grandfather’s footsteps as I retrace the 80-mile walk from Manchester to Birmingham he undertook to find work. I’ll also be undertaking another long distance cycle ride – this time over 150 miles coast to coast across England.

2014 will then see me kayak coast to coast across Scotland and try again in my attempts to complete the mock Ironman and Welsh 3000s Challenge. All in all, I hope to complete all ten challenges within 18 months.

Please visit my JustGiving page here if you feel my efforts are worthy of a donation to a fantastic cause – and to help make all the pain worthwhile!

PS I originally intended for two of my challenges to be climbing Germany’s highest mountain and recreating Team GB’s ten finest moments. However I’ve substituted these for the Tough Mudder and coast to coast cycle ride as I can’t afford a trip to Germany and realised the Team GB one was only a challenge of my video making skills, and isn’t actually an endurance challenge. 

PPS Special thanks to my good friend Ollie Kilvert at GoOutdoors for securing me a Tough Mudder spot as part of Team Go. Can’t wait to get stuck in!

Walking Across Ireland

I’ve never been on a walk that I didn’t enjoy… with the possible exception of this one.

I’d set myself the challenge of completing this epic 150 mile walk across Ireland as part of my 10 Challenges 4 Cancer. The plan was to complete the walk in 7 days to then enjoy a day or rest in Dublin. But we all know what happens to the best laid plans…

The trip started well enough as my girlfriend, Amy, decided she’d join me. We chose the Grand Canal route  – which links a good portion of the way between Galway and Dublin as we thought it would provide a scenic focal point for the walk. But this decision was to backfire as we discovered that the well photographed scenic part of the Grand Canal only lasted for a mile or so around Shannon Harbour. Beyond that lay mile upon mile of featureless landscapes through the wilderness of Ireland. The footpaths were rarely paved, often muddy and at times ankle deep in bog. And the towns were incredibly sparse which made finding food regularly enough to maintain energy levels very difficult.

Furthermore, the week we’d chosen to undertake this walk was the one when the Arctic storm hit the UK. Although we didn’t get much snow, we did get torrential rain and the gale force, ice cold wind blowing us backwards for most of the week. Temperatures rarely rose above a few degrees in the day, and dropped well below zero at night. This made camping (with only cheap sleeping bags) very unpleasant.

But apart from the Arctic storm, the monotonous landscape, the carrying of bags way over the recommended weight limit, the difficulty in finding food, and, of course, the incessant blisters and joint and muscle pain…. apart from all of that… the walk was still an adventure to remember, and an achievement to be proud of.

So after several months to recover from the trauma, here’s a short video capturing our experience (but not nearly doing justice to the pain!)…

With hindsight, we’re able to look back on this walk and laugh. It’s certainly an experience we’re both glad we undertook, and completed. But it was undoubtedly one of the toughest experiences of both of our lives. Very rarely did we actually enjoy the walk itself but, as with any adventure, there were highlights. The coastal walk from Galway, spending St. Patrick’s Day drinking Guinness in an Irish pub, the food (when we could find somewhere that sold it) and above all the wonderful people of Ireland. It really was the people that we met along our way that made this adventure special, despite the various tribulations.

The couple who gave us a double sleeping bag to help us keep warm for a night, the kind man in the pub who gave generously as soon as he found out what we were doing, the guesthouse owner who offered to shuttle us so we could have a day walking without bags, the lady who pulled over to offer a lift and then donated €10 when we reluctantly declined, the B&B owner who brought us sandwiches when we were in too much pain to walk to get food – these moments which reminded us of the warmth of human nature were the ones we will treasure from our epic journey.

I’d like to say a special thank you to Amy for joining me on this challenge. Despite the fact that only a few months earlier she needed a knee operation following a riding accident, she put up with the added pain and never once was tempted to give up on the challenge. Here’s hoping this experience doesn’t put her joining me on further microadventures in the future!

If you’re a glutton for punishment, and are interesting in walking this route yourself, here is a breakdown of what we covered each day:

Day 1 – Galway Harbour to Athenry (approx. 15 miles)
Day 2 – Athenry to Kilconnell (approx. 18 miles)
Day 3 – Kilconnell to Banagher (approx. 22 miles)
Day 4 – Banagher – Pollagh (approx. 18 miles)
Day 5 – Pollagh to Ballycommon (approx. 17 miles)
Day 6 – Ballycommon to Edenderry (approx. 16 miles)
Day 7 – Edenderry to Sallins (approx. 21 miles)
Day 8 – Sallins to Dublin Sea Locks (approx. 21 miles)

Make sure you stay with Gerry and Maria at the Ballycommon House near Tullamore. Our stay here was one of the  highlights of our trip and their offer of a shuttle service gave us a much needed day without carrying the bags!

The Zombie Apocalypse Strikes Again!

I was delighted to reprise my role as a flesh-eating zombie last week for, of all things, a mountain bike promotion video! The video was made by my friends at GoOutdoors as the latest in their series of comedic product review videos. They really have done a fantastic job with the editing – including some glorious shots using a gyrocopter.

Check out the video below – watch it in full screen for the full zombie experience!

If you’ve not already seen it, here’s a preview of the horror film, The Eschatrilogy, I was lucky enough to be a zombie extra in last year:

This was the realisation of a long held life goal of mine – to be an extra in a film. Read more about my experience of being a zombie extra here.

10 Top Tips for Hitchhikers

This time last year I hitchhiked over 3000km from Sheffield to the Arctic Circle. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

The hitchhike took me six days and involved a total of 30 lifts through 8 countries. It was extremely hard work and, aside from the glorious scenery, involved a colossal amount of frustration, physical endurance and sleepless nights. So I’m offered some tips for fellow hitchhikers – or those who are thinking of hitchhiking for the first time – to help improve your chances of being offered lifts and having a more enjoyable experience. 

1.  Take advantage of services stations

If you only stand by the side of a road you’re likely to spend many long, frustrating hours hitchhiking. People will not stop for ny number of reasons: they can’t read your sign, they can’t stop safely, they see you too late etc. So you’ll vastly improve your chances of getting lifts if you can talk to people face to face. Service stations are perfect for this. You can approach people as they go in to pay for their petrol. 

2. Talk to everyone 

This may seem obvious but I was alarmed to meet many other hitchhikers who would just stand with their thumb out and wouldn’t dare approach people directly. The more people you speak to the quicker you’ll be offered a lift. The worst that can happen is that someone says no, and even if they can’t offer a lift they may know someone who can or advise you of a better place to hitch. So talk to everyone you meet. Literally everyone. 

3. Ask a question which requires a ‘yes’ answer first 

The use of a bit of positive psychology will get you a long way! Get yourself to a service station on a busy road or motorway i.e. where traffic is only going one direction. Before asking someone for a lift, ask them “Are you traveling to [the next town/city]?”. Their response can only be ‘yes’ unless they tell you a bare faced lie. Once they’ve said ‘yes’, they are now far less likely to say ‘no’ when you ask them for a lift. This technique works a treat and really helped me to get lifts more quickly. 

4. Travel light 

Hitchhiking can involve a lot of walking to find suitable hitching spots so you’ll want your load to be as light as possible. I found myself stranded in a tiny town called Venlo on the German border and must have walked over 6 miles to find a spot with a busier traffic. I did pack light but found myself wishing I’d streamlined my packing even more. Traveling as light as possible also gives you more space to carry food and water – you never know where you’re going to get dropped off and when you’re next chance to stock up will be remember.

5. Look presentable

Okay, you are not going to be looking your best while travelling with a backpack and possibly camping too. But making yourself look as presentable as possible will vastly increase your chances of getting a lift. Many of the people who gave me lifts said they felt reassured because I was wearing decent shoes (clean walking boots), a smart jacket and carried a proper sign, not a scruffy bit of paper. Which leads me onto my next tip…

6. Buy a whiteboard

You chances of getting a lift are always going to be higher if you have a sign to show people where you are traveling to. If not, people have an excuse not to stop as they can assume they cannot help. But what type of sign, and what should it say? I bought myself a wipe clean whiteboard so I could experiment with different signs at every hitching point. If one place name isn’t working, try something else or simply a direction. I was never left scrambling around to find some scrappy looking paper and the whiteboard also provides high contrast so it’s much easier for drivers to see. I can’t recommend this enough. It was probably one of the best fivers I ever spent! 

7. Give yourself plenty of time

I found that the added pressure of racing against the clock made my own hitchhike very stressful (I’d only given myself seven days to get to the Arctic). I was behind schedule for the first four days so never felt like I could relax and enjoy the journey until I caught up time in Scandinavia. So give yourself plenty of time for your hitchhike. Then you can spend time enjoying your surroundings in the evenings – and travel into towns and cities to visit tourist sites (something I regrettably wasn’t able to do). 

8. Don’t be picky 

You will undoubtedly sometimes have to wait hours for a lift. It’s therefore important to get yourself into the mindset that you won’t be picky when a lift is offered. Appearance, whether of the lift giver themselves or the car they drive, is so often deceiving. Some of the warmest, friendliest people I met on my trip were those who ad the most dishevelled of appearance or drove the most banger-ish of cars. After all, think how many drivers form the wrong impressions of you just because you are hitchhiking…

9. Have an excuse ready 

As important as it is not to be picky about accepting lifts, it is also essential that you have a good excuse ready to get yourself out of a lift quickly if you really get a bad feeling about someone or feel unsafe about their driving. You could always say “Oh, you’re going to X? I’m going in the wrong direction!” or “I’m really tired – I think I’m going to set up camp for the day.”

10. Embrace the unknown

Hitchhiking is an excellent way to travel in an environmentally friendly and low cost manner. But, more so, it is an adventure! You never know who you will meet, or where you will end up. As a hitchhiker you will often receive offers of hospitality which can allow you to experience a country’s true culture beyond the tourist trial. So embrace the unforeseen opportunities that present themselves as these may end up being some of the most memorable moments of your trip and are what truly make travel one of the most rewarding experiences in life. 

I hope these tips help you hitchhike more successfully so as you travel you can benefit from meeting warm and wonderful people, acquire local knowledge of an area and gain a real, genuine insight into a country’s culture.

Here is a short video of my own hitchhike from Sheffield to the Arctic Circle – an experience that will live long in my memory!

Click here to read more about my experience including the highs, the lows and the safety of hitchhiking. 

The Welsh 3000s Challenge… Failed!

wet walker, wet jacketThis picture was taken at the top of Snowdon at 1.30am on the summer solstice night after three hours of battering from 80mph winds and the heaviest, most unrelenting deluge I’ve ever experienced.

The plan was to bivvy on top of the mountain before an early rise to embark on the Welsh 3000s – an epic challenge to climb each of Snowdonia’s 15 mountains over 3000ft within 24 hours. However, we quickly realised bivvying was out of the question as we were soaked through, and so was all our gear (including the sleeping bags). The combination of rain and wind also meant we’d become extremely cold, to the point that basic function was becoming difficult.

The winds became ever more gale force higher up the mountain and we were blown clean off our feet several times. We therefore also realised that the planned morning’s scramble over the knife-edge Crib Goch ridge was no longer a safe option and we’d be unable to attempt the full Welsh 3000s challenge. In fact, we later learned that 9 people had to be rescued off Snowdon that day due to the incredibly strong winds and treacherous conditions and even the elite Welsh 3000s trail race had to be cancelled.

However, stubbornly, we refused to let the mountain beat us entirely so battled against the elements to summit Snowdon. Upon reaching the top, without any hope of bivvying or tackling Crib Goch in the morning, we immediately turned round and returned down the mountain as quickly as possible. We reached the car at 4am and then spent a couple of hours shivering in the few dry clothes we could muster. Finally, with the conditions only seeming to get wetter and, more crucially, windier, we reluctantly decided that it just wasn’t safe to attempt the rest of the route which would still have been a 25 mile, 12 peak hike over exposed ridges which would leave us freezing cold, soaking wet and potentially stranded in the middle of nowhere at the end of the challenge.

So I failed to complete the fourth of my 10 Challenges 4 Cancer. But to summit Wales’ highest mountain in those conditions, and in darkness, is an achievement in itself. I plan to return and complete the Welsh 3000s at some point but am realistic that it may not be possible in this window of long daylight hours. However if you think that our efforts are still worthy of a small donation to cancer research then please visit my fundraising page here.

I’d like to say a big thank you to Imogen for joining me on this crazy challenge and for never letting the very worst of weather dampen your spirits!

Watch this space for more updates on my progress in completing 10 Challenges 4 Cancer including kayaking across Scotland, climbing Germany’s highest mountain and walking from Manchester to Birmingham. Click here for more details.

PS This is what Crib Goch look like on a sunny day… and why it’s not possible in 80mph winds!

Crib Goch, Snowdon Horseshoe

Cycling 150 miles in 48 hours

The second of my 10 Challenges 4 Cancer: a 150 mile cycle ride from Sheffield to southern Wales in 48 hours. 

Jon Maiden, cycle touringI’m not a cyclist. I’ve only been on a bike a few times over the past couple of years so this challenge was a daunting prospect. It was made more daunting still by the sub-zero temperatures and the fact I’d be using a bike with only three gears.

My journey would take me from Sheffield across the Peak District to Leek, down through Shrewsbury, into Wales and finally to my mum’s house near Hay-on-Wye in Powys.

I set off from Sheffield on the Friday afternoon and immediately realised that my legs were far from prepared for this challenge – especially given the previous weekend’s ‘Everest’ stair climb.  The relentless initial climb out of Sheffield to Owler Bar at an altitude of over 300m already had me feeling exhausted before I’d barely even begun. Furthermore, carrying the weight of my camping gear in panniers made it soon feel like I was dragging a house up each and every hill – of which, of course, there were many.

Peak District church

The picturesque scenery of the Peak District my reward for the pain of its unrelenting terrain…

As the miles ticked slowly by, I began to find a rhythm on the Peaks’ plentiful ascents and became more accustomed to the burning in my thighs. I passed through the picturesque towns of Bakewell, Monyash and Longor and soon had the distinctive craggy peaks of The Roaches, on the Peak District’s western border, in sight. I was beginning to understand the simple joys of cycle touring – the freedom to choose your own path, to see the world at your own pace and in more depth than perhaps any other form of travel.

Then finally, the sharp turn south onto the Buxton Road gave me the long descent into Leek. Suddenly all those ascents were worth it. As my heavily fatigued legs enjoyed flying effortlessly downhill, I was surrounded by some of the country’s finest scenery cast against a glorious setting sun. It was a magical moment.

It was already dark when I peddled into Leek. I’d arrived at my intended destination for the day but I wanted to get ahead of schedule so pushed on. The final straw for the days riding was yet another long ascent which led to crash number one (toppling off my bike in sheer exhaustion!). After a heartily consumed pub lunch, a field near the town of Endon was to be my home for the night. I set up the tent in the dark not knowing what else I was sharing the field with (I kept my fingers crossed that it wasn’t bulls!).

Frozen bush, icicles on bush

This frozen bush shows just how cold it was!

It was -5 degrees, I only had room to pack a one season sleeping bag and so I was wearing every item of clothing I had to block out the biting cold. Let it be said, and not just because I’m writing for their blog, that without the warmth provided by my new Berghaus Arisdale jacket I may really have been in trouble. Even so, I still spent most of the night shivering away too cold to sleep. It was undoubtedly one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life.

At the start of the second day I genuinely thought I may struggle to complete the challenge. Whether it was the exertion of the previous day, the lack of sleep or the general lack of training for the challenge, my legs simply had nothing to offer. The slightest incline became a painful battle of will to keep going.

But everything changed after a trip to a very helpful bike shop in Market Drayton. They gave my bike a quick once over and, crucially, used their proper pump to inflate my tyres to the correct PSI. Yes, I’d cycled over 60 miles on tyres that were not properly inflated. Talk about making things harder for myself! The next 30 miles, over pretty flat terrain, on tyres pumped to the max, flew by.

I was making great progress and, mainly to avoid another night in the tent, was tempted to push through and cycle the whole way to my mum’s that night. It would have been over 100 miles in a day. But after waiting with a motorcyclist who’d been involved in a serious road accident, my enthusiasm had unsurprisingly been quashed. I’d also lost the light and the snow had started to come down heavily.

The 'pod' that saved me from another night of shivering.

The ‘pod’ that saved me from another night of shivering.

So after covering 65 miles over the day the cold tent beckoned. However I managed to negotiate a significant discount on a ‘pod’. This basic wooden shelter was perhaps the finest accommodation I’d ever stayed in for one reason – it had a heater! I may never again sleep so soundly.

Reinvigorated after a proper nights sleep, I eagerly took to the road on Sunday morning. I had 40 miles remaining. The weary legs struggled immensely on the hills which were once again becoming more frequent as I neared the Welsh border. But on seeing the first road sign marked ‘Kington’ (my mum’s nearest town) my heart leapt. I could almost smell my mum’s infamous lasagne!

Jon Maiden, cycle touring

The final approach to my mum’s house down a treacherous icy lane…

However the final 5 miles on the minor country lanes brought with it a new challenge. Ice! It became tediously slow picking my way carefully through the patches of ice. But I was almost there. And then, only 50 metres from my mum’s front door, I had crash number two. On a steep hill, the patches suddenly became a thick layer of sheet ice covering the entire road. The moment my front wheel touched it I was gone. And I fell heavily. Luckily no breaks but neuropraxia in my hand has meant I haven’t been able to feel two of my fingers since.

So I limped the final 50 metres of my journey but it didn’t matter. I’d made it! 150 miles in less than 48 hours. My first multi-day cycle tour was complete and the world’s best lasagne was waiting for an extremely hungry cyclist!

Despite the exhausting schedule, the biting cold, and the crashes, this is an experience I’ll always treasure. But next time I think I’ll wait for some warmer weather!

There is a more serious side to the challenges I’m undertaking this year. Cancer. More than one in three people in the UK will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. It is a vicious disease that touches us all in far too many ways. I’m hoping to raise more than £2000 for a cancer charity (AICR) which funds the best research projects all over the world. If you are able make a donation, or to find out more about my 10 Challenges 4 Cancer, please click here.

Climbing the Height of Everest… in Yorkshire’s Tallest Building!

Climbing Everest on stairs

This barmy idea was the first of my 10 Challenges 4 Cancer – these are ten adventurous endurance challenges I’m undertaking in 2013 to raise at least £2000 for the Association of International Cancer Research (AICR).

This challenge was intended to push me to, and probably beyond, my physical and psychological limits. Our 8848m stair climb would involve 79 ascents of Yorkshire’s tallest building, Bridgewater Place, and a total of over 41,000 stairs! Just to make it a little more difficult we gave ourselves only 24 hours in which to complete the challenge.

Watch this short video to see whether we managed to complete it…



So after 17 long hours on the stairs (and a short break to sleep) we made it!

I would like to thank Liam Garcia of the Long Well Walk for joining me on the climb. Without his company, I’m not sure I’d have stayed sane! In 2014, Liam will be walking from Sheffield to Cape Town to raise money for water sanitation projects across Africa.

Find out more about my 10 Challenges 4 Cancer, or make a donation to cancer research, here. Also watch this space for details of my next challenges…

Thanks to Francesca Limb Photography for the imagery.

Free Chris’ Face!

Chris Gruar beard

Dear all,

Approximately 10 months ago Chris Gruar – a lovely, clean shaven man left the UK on a mission to cycle to Australia to raise money for the Association of International Cancer Research (AICR).

Said man now has a VERY hairy beard attached to his face!! He resembles a human-gorilla hybrid, a Yeti-Man.

We propose that if we raise £500 within 30 days, Chris should by default be FORCED to shave of his beard!!

Please help free Chris’ face by donating to his fundraising page (remember to make reference to the beard)

>> <<

Please also like, comment on and share this page to help convince Chris to SHAVE!!!!!