The Antarctic Odyssey was the start of my journey into adventure racing and blogging. I wrote a series of post that charted my adventure from start to completion of my Antarctic Odyssey. This post is part of the series.
An odyssey: an epic journey of discovery filled with challenges and experiences. My Antarctic Odyssey is certainly living up to that and I have not even embarked upon the final trip.
Preparations for this event have presented a number of challenges and learning experiences. For example: I have discovered that it will take 2 days to get from Glasgow to Punta Arenas (Chile); that most so called ‘extreme sport’ and ‘adventure’ insurers will not actually insure me to go and run in Antarctica; that running on sand is a good way to simulate the running surface conditions that I will encounter; that electrolytes are good things and that you need to consume a lot (and I mean a lot) of food to get through a 53 mile ultra; that I will burn 1.5x the energy I would normally burn running un Antarctica; that I appear to be a successful race director. One of the biggest challenges has been, and is, funding the odyssey.
Let’s be honest it was always going to be a tall order to find and convince organisations or individuals to back the odyssey. The days of finding generous benefactors willing to support and fund adventures or challenges simply for what they are, and the associated sense of adventure gained from it are long gone. The current economic climate has greatly affected the ability to give, CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and corporate sponsorship have declined significantly, but demand has also increased. Events or challenges need to be extraordinary, or celebrity focused, to attract backing or sponsorship. Backers seek a return and benefits on their investment.
Who in their right mind is going to back a non-celebrity, slow, 50 year old to run a marathon and ultra marathon in the Antarctic in return for brand and product placement on what could be a limited forum/platform? It is not as if I am going to break any records. Yes, it will be a Scottish first: I will be the first Scot and Scottish woman (and only the 2nd British woman) to complete the full double event: and yes, it is also for charity and will benefit the community, but then so many of these challenges and events are.
I was kidding no one but myself.
I do at this point have to say that I am immensely grateful to the generous individuals and companies who have already backed my challenge by providing kit, cash and services. Their vision, faith, and support are invaluable.
What is the current state of play?
I have approached pretty much every large and medium sized enterprise in Scotland and some smaller ones. I have attempted to contact known philanthropic individuals who may be sympathetic to the odyssey and or the supporting dementia. Crowd Funding, partnership scheme, purchasing Antarctic ice miles, prize scratch cards; I have tried them all. I have got used to rejection: big time!
My clothing/kit has been fully sponsored by Helly Hansen, my socks by Teko. My nutritional, podiatry, sports injury and marketing/publicity are all covered by partners providing in kind support. Footwear and remaining kit are self funded. Cash sponsorship received to date has covered 1/3 of the cash costs (Askharad Consulting, is a main contributor and gold partner). According to the budget I still need £7.5k to cover remaining entry fees, travel and accommodation. The plan was that if by May/June I had not gained further cash sponsorship I would pull the plug. I didn’t and I haven’t. At this point in time my back-up plan is self-funding the bulk of the trip thanks to a credit card with an interest free period, an extra dividend (one perk of being a self employed workaholic), and a loan.
Why ? You may well ask, and, indeed I ask myself the same question.
The answer is a fundamental part of who I am. In reality I was never going to pull the plug; I was always going to find a way to do it and to fund raise as much as I can for Alzheimer Scotland. When I decide to do something and commit to it, I am like a dog with a bone, and I pursue it with passion and determination. Not only that, but having already raised almost £4.5k for Alzheimer Scotland I would never let down the people who have given so generously to my cause.
It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am not getting any younger. In one sense it is a selfish ambition. The money I raise for Alzheimer Scotland will benefit the community and will help support dementia sufferers and those that support and care for them. On the flip side however, I am spending a significant amount of money on something that is only for me. I rarely do that. My family get nothing from it. Indeed, I must be driving them crazy with my absolute focus on making it succeed. I know that I talk about on a daily basis and they never get peace, but in my defense it is one of the few selfish things that I have done. Much of what I do is for and about my family and other people, about helping others. I get a great sense of achievement from what I do for others. It may sound trite, but that is who I am. But I also have personal goals and ambitions.
It is determined: the Antarctic Odyssey will be happening.
Hopefully, the Antarctic Odyssey will represent something good for both me and others. I fully expect it to be an epic journey of discovery both literally and mentally. There will be challenges to face and experiences to gain. It will be life changing for me and, all being well, life enhancing for others.