The challenge of training continuously at Speedflex – Jesmond (https://www.facebook.com/SpeedflexJesmond) until I burned 10,000 calories, is possibly the most random fundraising idea I have ever come up with (not including skiing down a mountain in a mankini). If you consider that I will burn approximately 800 calories in one 45 minute session (working at 90% of my maximum heart rate), I didn’t even know if 10,000 was possible. Taking all of this into consideration, the last thing I expected was for anyone to be stupid enough to join me.
Step up Ben Shephard and Tom May; two likeminded idiots happy to jump at the chance of taking on the impossible. This is further evidence of what people are prepared to do for CHUF (Children’s Heart Unit Fund at the Freeman Hospital), the charity that is so close to our hearts. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised anymore; after 4 years of fundraising and being continuously blown away by the manner in which people devote their time and energy to support us. However I do believe the day I am no longer moved by such acts of generosity should be the day I pack it all in.
Back to the challenge and the mammoth task of burning 10,000 calories each, in one non-stop high intensity challenge. At 7am and joined by 11 Speedflex members we began; apart from the odd toilet break, food and fluid intake or change of clothes we didn’t stop. It became apparent after 2-3 hours that Tom and Ben were burning significantly more calories than me. Normally my lighter bodyweight is an advantage, the lads took great delight in this reverse in fortune; as Tom cruised along at 1,000 calories per hour, Ben at nearly 900 and me….well less! The only thing I had in my locker was my perceived ‘superior’ experience of taking on Ultra Endurance challenges. In the back of my mind I was planning on cruising past them both at about 8 hours!!!
Tom unfortunately had to stop his challenge at 10 hours (having burned a stunning 7847 calories) due to his flight back to London for training the next morning; it was left to Ben and myself to see it home. The unbelievable thing about Speedflex is the cross section of people that can train together; never has this been more valuable than when you’ve got to spend 14 hours in a room with one person! Every single person who trained with us was amazing and managed to keep our spirits high throughout.
Anyway, in all of my different challenges I’ve always known exactly where the finish line was and have been able to focus on this regardless of the pain; Monday was so much more difficult. Because we received our calorie data at the end of each hour, we had to focus on maintaining the highest possible exercise intensity (around 80-85% of our max heart rate). We reminded ourselves that no level of pain we endured came close to what children like Seb handled with every single day; a great way to focus the mind! I had in the back of my mind the challenge would take around 14 hours, so you can imagine the look on my face when I realised I was going to have to go into a 15th hour…and Ben wouldn’t ! Whilst we always support each, we are also both deeply competitive and hate losing to each other.
The last 30 minutes saw me push myself to my limits, by maxing my rep rate and completing sprint laps of the fitness suite. The 5 members who had trained with us in the last session, staff, Ben (check out his blog: http://www.officialbenshephard.com/news/article/ben-shephard-calorie-blog) and my amazing wife Nadine cheered me on right to the end. Finally at approximately 9.25pm I finished and successfully achieved the challenge I had devised 4 months previously. In Ben burning 10,488 and myself 10,153 calories we achieved something few can lay claim to and neither of us fancy repeating!
As I reflect on Monday’s 14 hours of madness, I am consumed by a plethora of emotions. From the sustained pain, achievement of a target we didn’t know was even possible and then something so much more important. Our fundraising hinges on people like Ben, Tom, Cath, Parry and everyone else involved in Monday’s event. It requires such selfless acts of generosity that are motivated purely by making a difference to the lives of children like Seb. The support we received from the staff and members along with the general public showed how much CHUF means to so many people. Seb’s condition means he will require further heart surgery, so we will be beneficiaries of these acts of generosity.
From the bottom of our hearts – Thank you so very much.