On 15th September 2009 Eddie Izzard crossed the finish line having run 43 consecutive marathons in aid of Sport Relief. Paul Jennings was so inspired by Eddie's journey that he decided to get stuck into a challenge himself. The only question was what challenge to choose.
Climbing 43 marathons might be a tad excessive but, at just shy of 5 times the height of Everest, one vertical marathon seemed a tough enough challenge to undertake. Although climbing a vertical marathon isn't a new idea, the way these guys are doing it is. Forget cramming as many climbers into an indoor facility as you can to cover the distance in one day, this event will see two climbers cover every single one of the 42,195 meters themselves, over the course of seven days, whilst travelling 800 miles around the country and visiting 7 indoor walls in seven days.
Each day the two climbers will need to share 6000 meters of climb distance, they have estimated that will be 7 – 8 hours of wall time per leg. The team will start the challenge on 22nd January 2011 at their local wall, Dart Rock in Devon. From there they will travel to Undercover Rock in Bristol, Redpoint in Birmingham, Awesome Walls in Liverpool, Newcastle Climbing Centre, The Foundry in Sheffield and finally Craggy Island in Guildford for their final leg on 28th January 2011.
This is a tall order, which is made all the more daunting when you look at the two climbers credentials. Neither Paul nor his climbing partner Robin Offer, are pro climbers, in fact they are the first to admit they are far from it - 'keen climbers' would be a suitable term! Like most, Paul and Robin fit training sessions around full time jobs, kids and other obligations. Training for summer project routes has been put on hold as the two focus on specific training for the challenge - that means laps, lots and lots of laps! In a typical 2 hour session the two are cranking out around 120 climbs between them, then going back the next day and doing the same again, getting their bodies ready for repetitive efforts that will be required.,
Paul and Robin will be accompanied by Cherry Bedford and Justin Timms. Justin will be filming the event and keeping everyone updated on the climbers progress on their website www.thebigvmt.org.uk. The team are looking for volunteers to get involved by offering belaying services at each venue which will be needed due to the time constraints they have imposed on themselves. Without belay support they simply won't have enough time in the day to make the distance. Cherry will be there to drum up belay support and fill in the gaps when no one is around to help but there is only one of her and both climbers need to be climbing for a good percentage of the day.
The guys at Beastmaker will be coming along too, travelling the country in a search of the Beast of Beasts! How many chin-ups do you think you can do in one minute? If you are at the top of the online table by the end of the event you will win a Beastmaker Fingerboard and the glory of being the country's number one. Come and have a go if you think you've got what it takes!
All funds raised will be donated to Cancer Research UK and, as an added twist to the donations process, you will be entered into a generous prize draw once for every pound donated. Prizes include free flights, climbing equipment, magazine subscriptions and shopping vouchers. For full details of how to offer the team your support and how to donate visit their website, www.thebigvmt.org.uk.
The BIg Vertical Marathon Tour is supported by Metolius, Peugeot,Petzl, La Sportiva, Beal, BMC, Ilfracombe RoundTable, UKClimbing.com, PrintInc., Flybe, Climber Magazine, Beastmaker,< ? brand('Bananfingers') ?>.