737 Challenge - 26th July 2011

26th July 2011

The last two weeks since I summited Mount Elbrus have been an absolute whirlwind, a massive sensory shock really. Not just adapting to civilian life again and being off the mountains but also coming to terms with all the overwhelming support from everyone. It’s been pretty humbling and surreal.

When I came back the first week I was living off adrenalin, the buzz of seeing friends, family and everything was keeping me going, however I always knew that at some point the last 6 months would catch up with me and I would be hit over the head by a cricket bat! That happened at the end of last week and I’ve been shattered since! I’d always anticipated that if successful I, and the 737 Challenge team, would be busy making the most of the opportunity from our exposure to fundraise as much as possible. However, I had no idea how manic it would actually be! I’m as committed to this next chapter of the 737 Challenge as I was to the climbing, but it’s not easy, we still have a lot of work ahead of us and I’m amped about it!

Although I’m very proud of what I and everyone involved in the 737 Challenge have achieved, I’m still not really comfortable with all the attention. It’s incredibly humbling how people view the challenge’s success, I still feel lucky to have had the opportunity to even attempt it! I’m not exaggerating when I say that I owe so much to the team, sponsors and many people on the periphery who all helped make this a reality, not just for me, but for Marie Curie. It’s all still sinking in guess! I’ve had really good advice about all the media stuff, never the less it’s been an equal challenge for me, but I am enjoying it.

Yesterday when I was in BBC Radio 2 I just missed meeting The Boss Bruce Springsteen, he was going down in the lift as I was coming up in the other one, and on BBC Breakfast Sir Anthony Hopkins was due on the same day as me but couldn’t come on the show! I am not one to get star struck but I’d be lying if I said I that I wasn’t excited to meet both of them! Still I did eat Sir Anthony’s breakfast in the green room and The Boss probably heard me singing ‘Dancing in the dark’ in the lift over from him as we passed! Ha!

I am really excited about the documentary going out tonight on BBC One Wales. I’m proud that not only have we got a documentary on BBC Wales but also of what we’ve produced, It’s awesome. It’s very powerful to me that, like everyone involved in the challenge, Sports Media Services - my filming partner and BBC Wales took the leap of faith with me when others didn’t in the beginning. I would have loved for it to be longer, but still amped we’re able to share a small glimpse of the last 2 years with everyone. It’s really important to me that people like it. I know we’ve had interest from other network channels and broadcasters, and hopefully we’ll be able to produce a longer insight into the challenge in the near future.

A lot of people are tweeting asking why it’s not on network BBC, the truth is that in the beginning it was near impossible getting this documentary commissioned for various reasons, that’s why I’m grateful to SMS and BBC Wales for sharing my adventurous spirit. Everyone across the UK can view it on the iPlayer, digitally and who knows where it might go after this. There are lots of exciting prospects, possibly even making a DVD. For now I’m excited to see the 1st episode tonight...I’ve got my popcorn and pillow ready!

I’m still desperately trying to catch up with friends, family and sponsors however that’s proving as much of a challenge as the last 6 months have been! My diary of fundraising, media and appearances is pretty chocca already...I’ve never been so organised in my life!!

I am looking forward to picking up my Audi that Mon Motors Audi are generously lending me to help me get round the country. I don’t know which model it is yet, but who cares it’s an Audi! Our Audi A1 which has been out there already promoting our amazing text to win an Audi A1 competition is proving a bit of a hit, not just amongst the humans but I couldn’t get Ben out the boot the other day as he was too comfy! It’s a pretty cool car! However, I still have issues with driving around in a car with my big face on the side! But it’s all to raise funds in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care so please keep texting, the more you text the better chance you have of winning it! Luckily the winner gets a brand new faceless version! Ha!

My toe is recovering really well. Mega painful, but that’s a sign that all the nerves and tissue are regenerating. I managed to get through the last 2 legs of the challenge without too much trauma to my toe, then yesterday at the challenge team meeting I stubbed it on a chair!! It grossed everyone out as it started bleeding all over my flip flop! Seriously, It’s the very best outcome I could have hoped for and once again I owe my thanks to everyone who helped me through that horrible and uncertain 2 weeks between Everest and Denali. I am likely to lose a small part of it but looking at the big picture Lazarus has done me proud!

It’s fair to say I am feeling pretty mixed up. I am really happy to be home, it’s overwhelming, awesome and I am so grateful to everyone, but I’ve been travelling for so long it’s been difficult adjusting back and in some ways I miss the simplicity of expedition life. I miss the mountains.

My biggest challenge to date though has been teaching my dog Ben out of all the bad habits my mum and dad have taught him whilst I was away! He’s been properly spoilt! Ha ha!

I am going to keep writing my diary and thanks to everyone who has been reading each entry. Just sorting out a new diary page here at 737challenge.com but for now will keep writing here on Elbrus!

Catch you soon guys, Rich.