Training for Kilimanjaro (I): applying lessons learned

Conventional wisdom says that people who are in good shape (i.e. normally go to the gym 2-3 times/week) only need 2-3 months of training to summit the mountain.  If true, this is good news for me.

At the end of March I ran my first half marathon and did a decent job of it.  It’s not the grandest of achievements, but it does give me that extra bit of self-confidence that I could, actually, get to the rooftop of Africa if I take my training up a few notches.


The advantage of long-distance running is not just getting in shape, however.   It’s also a great exercise in testing one’s own physical and psychological limits.

Running implies a constant process of negotiation with oneself – after all, it’s an exhausting, highly redundant and oftentimes painful activity.  Hardly attractive.   You have to obliterate procrastination, laziness and self-defeat just by getting off the couch and running those first 5 km. But once you do that, something else kicks in – the impulse to push yourself to the limit.  When you become utterly exhausted during a run, you have work at convincing yourself that you can go further.  You have to make yourself believe that you can reach the next kilometre mark; and the next, and then the next.  And then you have to make your body follow.

The next day, you start all over again – and push yourself even further.  Luckily, the feeling at the end of that run is pretty damn amazing – a feeling that keeps you running every day thereafter, until you reach that 21.097 km mark.

This is the lesson learned in the last eight months of running that I will take with me up Mt. Kilimanjaro, and which will hopefully help me reach the summit when exhaustion kicks in (and it inevitably will): half the challenge is in the brain.


Smiling faces

One of the best things about coming home after a gruelling 5-week research trip, was finding these smiling faces waiting for me. They accompanied a very nice ‘thank you’ letter sent all the way from Moshi, Tanzania, by the Amani Children’s home.

I just can’t wait to meet these kids!



The grand opening of the Charity Boutique

This past week-end I decided to put my photography skills to good use by launching a Charity Boutique on Facebook.  The concept is simple – for any donation of 15 Euro or more to my Kili Challenge, you will receive the image of your choice from this 12-image gallery.  I will send you the photograph privately via email, in high resolution and without watermark, for your own private (i.e. non-commercial) use.

Please visit the Charity Boutique page on this blog for a better look at the photographs on offer.



The adventure begins!

We're off

After months of dreaming, planning and preparing, the flight to Nairobi is finally booked! I am taking off on July 17th, which leaves me exactly 2 months to fundraise and train for the trek up Mount Kilimanjaro.

Juggling a full-time PhD, a part-time job and an intensive physical training program for the next 8 weeks will be a challenge in itself.  But I am immensely excited about this project and I am motivated to do it well.  I hope you can come along for the ride, drop me some helpful advice, if you have any, and do be inspired to sponsor my Kili challenge for the Amani Children’s Home.  Off we go!