Wednesday, 8 April 2009

And the Oscar goes to...

So, having sent out an email to all and sundry at work this afternoon, including the link to the website I am aware that I may have a somewhat larger audience on the link to this little blog.

And here is the bad news. If you are in fact reading this, the witty anecdotes and amusing stories are not in fact for free. You are required to donate. Your computer will shut down, eat all your photos, send sparks of burning lava into your eyes and crush your fingers if you do not go to and help us move closer to our magnificent target!

Now... If you have paid you little entertainment fee.. please feel free to read on...


Now I had planned to write an extensive blog this evening, charting the highlights, low points, lessons learned, friends made and areas visited, but it seemed more important to nip to the pub for a game of pool and a half (okay pint) (please refer to blog regarding carbo loading, it is all part of the training!).

So instead, in no particular order I would like to extend some thanks to people who have been, and will be helping me up the mountain...

So kicking it all off, I would like to extend my thanks to the younger Yeti, Curry Jnr, who sent me an email a year ago, asking me if I was interested in this type of adventure. Since that time he has let me get on with meeting a new bunch of folks, trim trailing, pub training, air guitar playing shaninigans, occasionally ensuring me safely home without batting an eyelid, and more importantly that all of that, allowed me to sign him up to the Berlin Marathon and kept me company on route. Behind the scenes he is also Team Sec and buried in paperwork, but keeps a good humour.

There is also an entire team behind the test who I see at training and parties, but who are otherwise nose to the grindstone dealing with marketing, fundraising, websites, sponsors, permits, visas, airlines, tea houses and a billion other things without which this trip would not make it past Heathrow let alone Kathmandu. There will be proper thanking at a higher altitude I'm sure, but given I work in the NHS and have no idea how all this stuff works, I have to be grateful someone out there knows what the hell to do...

So in addition to that, I'd like to thank the girls... (you know who you are), who have whole heartedly been in support, buying tickets, coming to parties, sponsoring, lending me kit, buying me umpiring hats and magic perfume, letting me leave my kit all over the floor and generally neglecting the house... you are outstanding, and I hope you've had as much fun as I have!!

Before it all gets too Oscar speech like, I'm going to sign out. It is now 23.59, and very shortly the first day of the Everest Test 2009 will be upon us. My back pack is seriously full and sitting in the lounge, logo emblazoned kit is by its side for tomorrows press conference, and this time tomorrow we'll be well under way...

Monday, 6 April 2009

Tick tock tick tock...

So my lounge has been converted into a warehouse. There are Kathmandu, North Face, Ellis Brigham, carrier bags all over the floor, endless packaging being carefuly discarded into a huge bin liner, thermals being stacked into ever tinier piles as I attempt to reduce the weight count.

Yesterday I thought my pile looked quite reasonable until I realised I hadn't included in that pile my waterproofs (tops and bottoms), my down jacket, my fleece, spare trainers, any of my toiletries and I still hadn't picked up my drugs from the pharmacy.

And speaking of pharmacy. I thought I'd done the vast majority of my expenditure when I went to North Face, but can anyone tell me how in Gods name I spent forty five quid in SuperDrug? They better be some Goddam super drugs.

And the man in the pharmacy told me the diamox will make my eyesight blurry for the first 48 hours. Was considering taking a couple of doses in advance to check the general effect, but given I cycle to work, perhaps not the best choice.

So, despite the best attempts of Miss Stavely to dampen the spirits by sending weather reports for Kathmandu, I am excited. This excitement has been significantly increased by the fact the girls have bought me a real umpires hat as a take away gift... Slazenger, white beauty, old school.

And I've got some seriously big pants. Tracksuit pants that is. They're medium sized. If you live with radioactivity exposed giant men. Brilliant. And my small training shirt reaches my knees (I so can't wait to see Paola in hers - must double as a duvet cover?) But I love my baseball capped, polo shirted branded extravaganza media look. I'll be all kitted up for the press conference. I also just saw the mother of all tee-shirts which I would love to have for the trip, but think time has officially run out for more shopping. Black tee shirt, white letters. Don't Hassle the Hoff. Goddam Greek Genuis.

But signing out with a final note... of congratulations. Not to the organisers who have sweated their socks off for the past year, nor to the media men who've pulled off the press conference at Lords. But to Mr Hill who after much upwards struggling has passed the ECB level one umpiring exam. I suspect he may have had to sleep with a bearded cricket afficionado to get the resit, but we are now a fully equipped team for the match! Obviously I will be asking him to recite the MCC laws on the way up the trek... must find out his final score on the test paper... Clearly the way to pass any exam is to be aware that otherwise a Curry female will step up and take your spot, but on the positive side this means the risk of me having to ruin anyone's day by giving them out for a duck on the mountain.

Thursday, 26 March 2009


Send off party was a one in a million event... and was followed by very intensive training weekend in cornwall. Very intensive.
Friday afternoon I picked up a car from the lovely high road. Fair to say at this point I was tired, and a little worried about the drive down. This was not assisted by sitting in the office waiting for my car to come round, and seeing some half blind idiot total a motorbike outside the window. Yikes.

That makes you pay more attention when you're driving.

So having a quick nap before the off, picked up the younger Yeti and got on the road.
One million hours later we arrived at the very wonderful spot selected for the weekend, to dinner provided by the Lady Nicks, and naturally an early night to ensure maximum training session the following day... (hmmm)

Quick dip in the ocean later, and chat to local radio, and back in time for the game. Essential viewing. And dinner. Essential eating. Roast me up some vegetables. And a quick visit to the parentals for Mothering Sunday, Essential Champagne.

Sadly followed by an awful journey up the M4 where I may or may not have taken a couple of wrong turnings, and may or may not have ended up on the wrong side of the river. Fortunately I was with silent passengers fighting sleep who either don't know london all that well, or who were too polite to say anything. But I was struck down by yeti fever after that, leaving me with woolly legs and raging temperature. Shame.

So now. The final stage. Runners World recommends a carefully planned approach to the taper. Neatly translated here.

Running less in the weeks prior to a race is scientifically proven to lead to better performances. Known as tapering, this period of decreased training allows your mind and body time to recover from months of hard training so they are in prime condition come race-day.

Translation - ease off guys, doing less in the weeks prior to the trek may or may not be proven to lead to a better performance on the mountain. We need time to recover and be in prime condition. But either way it will make the next couple of weeks more fun ... Instructions as below.

Recovery rebound
Many runners experience a renewed sense of fitness midway through the taper as their body draws strength from its imposed period of rest. No matter how good you feel, resist the urge to cram in extra miles or add high-intensity speed sessions to your training plan. Such sessions will only put extra strain on your body and hinder rather than help your race preparations.

Translation - lie still. Feel awesome. Do not, repeat do not go to the gym.

As tempting as it might be to channel your energy into other sports, do so with caution. It's best to avoid undertaking any activity that could leave your muscles feeling sore or vulnerable to injury.

Translation - lie still. Feel awesome. Do not, repeat do not go to the gym.

Eat well -
Now is not the time to count calories - your body needs energy to repair muscle tissue damaged during training. Consider increasing your intake of protein, fruit and vegetables, and loading up on vitamin C to give your immune system a much-needed boost.

Translation - Ah yes. Cake. I need calories. The manual says so. I am therefore 'considering' upping my intake of protein. I wonder how much protein there is in Mars bars. And snickers. And green & blacks...

For the few days immediately prior to the race, try to get 60 to 70 per cent of your daily calorie intake from carbohydrate sources such as pasta, potatoes, rice and cereal. This will pack your muscles with glycogen and delay the point at which you 'hit the wall' during the race.

Translation - Hmmm... you know I hear that beer is largely carbohydrate. Beer and pizza nights therefore the perfect combination. And they have to contribute 60-70 % of our daily intake. I knew training had a kick back.... Good times.

Stay hydrated
Keep your energy and fluid levels high by cutting down on caffeinated and alcoholic drinks and consuming plenty of water, especially during the week before race-day. You can tell whether you are adequately hydrated by checking the colour of your urine (it should be clear or pale yellow).

Translation - Drink beer. You shouldn't believe everything you read on the internet.

Weight gain
You're likely to put on a few pounds during your taper but try to remember this is only temporary. Having your energy reserves at full capacity will help on race-day and you'll have lost the extra weight by the time you reach the finish line.

Translation - its nothing to do with the beer and pizza, and all about the tapering. Besides we are going to lose weight with the lentil rice diet, so stock up. Rotund is the target shape. All hail the mountain.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Identifiable Drinking Injuries


Huge round of applause to the events committe on that one.

New shoes (best not remember how much)
New dress (ditto)
Round of cocktails - free
Snazzy everest wrist band - free
losing entry in the raffles - couple of quid
Round of drinks at the bar - roughly the same as my mortgage payment
Best send off ever... Priceless!

So, 400 hundred people, amazing selection of photos (some of which I'm not sure I got round to seeing) and some awesome beats. I can take personal credit for Spandau Ballet which is always solid Gold! Having said that, I think some of our younger team members may have missed this first time round, definate blank faces...

Anyway, despite the agony of new shoes, and having half of my leg taken out with an over-zealous dancer out the back I survived without the incapacitating hangover that followed the launch party, and with the sunshine streaming into my house and into my back garden I've been up since far too early, and feeling suspiciously happy, especially since I have to drive Alan down to Cornwall later.

Our events guys rock, and our teams are awesome, and I can't wait to go on a trek with the best crew in town!

Bring on the mountain...

Monday, 16 March 2009

Upstairs / Downstairs

So almost exactly a year ago I was pottering around with my foot in crutches, cursing my failed attempt at running the Bath Half due to a broken metatarsal, with very little thought about entering another race. Since then, I've run a marathon, survived 6 months of trim trail, trekked through snow fall in the Brecon Beacons, slept in a village hall, rolled a tractor tyre around a field and lost a fight with a hay bale.

And I've run the bath half. Slowly. But without stopping. I am unbeatable. And fuelled entirely by lucozade.

So Bath, man it was hot, someone turned up the sun. You can tell because I've a light dusting of freckles. and the delicate scent of perspiration emanating from my kit bag. But I feel okay whilst I'm on the flat, although there are a couple of gentle reminders when I try to descend stairs.

But I can't complain, I didn't do it in pads, and full respect to the hard core that did. It was a tough day for wearing extra kit, and I owe thanks to the now beardless Iain who picked me up around mile 12 and kept me going. About 400 metres later I picked up the A Fud and insisted she come with us, although in her heat haze she didn't realise the beardless Iain was my brother and thought I was weirdly over friendly with the crowd when I told him we'd meet him in the pub later!

But it was a good race, and actually given I had to run walk much of Berlin, that is probably the longest period of time I've run without stopping ever.

There is a weird process when you do these races. At mile 2 I was knackered, by 3 I had a stitch. Between 5 and 10 I was kind of having fun, at 11 miles I was pretty clear in my mind that I was not going to be doing any serious races any time soon, at 12 I was doubting I would finish this one, and on the finish line I was on top form. Right now I'm thinking I wonder if 2.18 would translate into a 4.30 marathon time. Sick. sick. ...

And now... I've got some training for a party... Woo hoo!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009


After endless revision sessions, watching of the Ashes, and pop quizzing over email... it appears that I have in fact passed the ECB level one umpiring course, a qualification I sincerely plan on framing and having alongside my UCL clinical doctorate and Harvard University memorabilia. I think it may well have been harder to acheive than either of them.

So, after much advice from Caterham school of cricket, and sensible discussions with those in the know, I have booked to attend all Nets sessions at the Oval to suitably train my cricket eye, and to ensure we don't have any over zealous trigger fingers on the mountain.

Nets sessions in my mind also provide an opportunity for team bonding, and lets be frank, umpire bribery. I had high hopes of being quietly offered to have my pack carried, or lent expensive down jackets, or hot tea waiting every night, all in the hope of a favourable view on questionable LBW decisions. But I'm not sure Tenzing have shared my vision.

Had you been out and about tonight, you might have noticed a light drizzle in the air. A hint of spring dampness. Undaunted, for we will reach new heights in our test above the rest, I was dedicated to attend the Nets session. A mere 5 mile cycle from my work, and with my new prized and over-priced waterproofs nothing but biblical floods were likely to stop me.

Of course, it probably might have been a good idea to put my waterproofs in my cycle pannier the second I bought them. Rather than leaving them safe in the bottom of my ruck sack, leaving me with nothing more showerproof than my day glo high vis tabard designed for a builder four times my size.

5 miles later it might be fair to say I could have been more dry, but I was excited to attend the net session, and having fought my way through the maze of tunnels that leads to the Oval nets, I confidently looked on the booking board and could see no mention of Everest, Tenzing, Haydn, or any other indication that would suggest the guys were here. Undaunted I fought my way past a dozen four foot school children (I looked carefully, none of them were Tooves), and found team Tenzing, unhappily preparing for Nets.

Which had not been booked.

So that is to say, not preparing at all. Getting their kit back together to head off. On the plus side I did get the opportunity to hear Tooves fit 16 swear words and references to 'your mother' in a single sentence. But there was no cricket to be had. So it was back to the bike.

Now its probably fair to say I'm not the best cycler at the best of times. But this time I was veering into traffic because the winds were literally picking up the bike and throwing me into traffic. And did I mention it was raining?

And when I say raining what I mean is 'God in his infinite wisdom elected to distribute the rain scheduled for the month of March on the road between Kennington and Streatham between the hours of 9 and 10 this evening'. I had to swerve to avoid a frog happily playing in the puddles, and I couldn't see so many potholes I bashed my bike to tiny pieces. I'll be amazed if it gets me to work in the morning.

So, not the best start in terms of getting to know the team. At the current time I remain unaware of which member of tenzing was supposed to book the nets, but as I sit here waiting for my laptop to thaw out my legs, and with sodden kit drying out all over my house, it occurs to me that they might want to pray that I am not bowlers end Ump when there is a hefty appeal for LBW on their very first ball.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The big question

Its probably fair to say that in the last ten days, I have spent at least six of them dedicated to learning the laws of cricket. Picture Paola and I, armed with the MCC laws, a box set of the ashes, a vat of coffee and nothing but our fearless determination in the face of overwhelming ignorance pushing us onwards.

First thing this morning the pop quizzing started late last week resumed, with many although not all answers finishing with 'have a humbug'. Sadly tonight's exam may have highlighted that six days of competative pop quizzing over the email system does not an umpire make.

To be fair the evening started poorly, and we at least made it over the starting gate and arrived at the exam site which may or may not push us above the self proclaimed Ginger Rocky in the ranking. Clearly fate was not on the team's side as Clapham Junction and Balham decided to have simultaneous nervous break-downs reducing the Umpiring examiners to near tears as their preciously planned evening was disrupted by late arrivals and cancellation phone calls.

But by question ten it would be fair to say I was unsettled. During the 10-20 period (a phase we will henceforth refer to as the 'dark time') I was concerned I might not make it to the end. Fortunately I experienced an unexpected upsurge of confidence throughout the LBW section, proving that BN can teach you just about anything, but then I hit the wall of time allocation, penalty run calculation and the mysterious questions of practise on the pitch, missing players, and which dead balls have to be called dead and which you are allowed to leave in peace.

Despite my protestations that I am not expecting to experience any 'dissent' on the mountain, it is essential that I know the laws for managing such occasions (which according to the gentlemanly laws of cricket involve taking the captain aside and gentley suggesting he might like to have a chat over pimms with his players and suggest to them that acts of violence have no place in the game). Otherwise I can threaten them with a report to their regulatory body, who is presumably Kirt who will beat them into submission on the way down the mountain.. although if I'm backed up at the strikers end by Mr Waters I can presumably ask him to pelt them with humbugs...

By the end I was whimpering at my desk desperately trying to add up penalty runs, remember whether you call wide when it has passed the striker or the wicket and trying to establish in a question which was described over several paragraphs which runs would be debited against the bowler, which the batsman got credit for and whether the collective head scratching around the room was nits, or a genuinely hard test.

Anyway... faces did not look the most confident at the end of play, and I think Hill Senior is considering whether he could have more productively spent his time... not least the five hour round trip just for the exam.

On a positive note with Rocky himself having had to miss the test we should be able to prime him with enough of our remembered answers to get at least one accredited umpire between the six of us... the pass mark is set at a blistering 80% it turns out we may be facing ongoing revision sessions, or taking one of the bearded folk from the course up the mountain.

I feel perhaps it was an evening that could have been more enjoyably spent eating pancakes... but that will have to wait til next year now...