Tag Archives: charity events

No phone, no social media and no Google maps. Just real life.

In our last post we introduced you to our brand new event which encourages people to raise money for Scope whilst giving up technology for the weekend – Digital Detox is a good old-fashioned weekend without technology.

In the lead-up to her analogue 48 hours, Alice Wilkie started a blog documenting her fears and panic over losing digital.

5 Days to go

I am going 48 hours without digital in aid of Scope, raising money that could potentially provide assisted technologies to those who need it. As of today, the data on my phone has run out. I have a monthly allowance of 1GB but I ALWAYS run out part way through the month and 9 times out of 10 will top it up. This time however, I thought it would be better to dip my toe in the water and leave it, and guess what? ME NO LIKEY.

I think it’s fair to say I’m feeling pretty anxious. I spoke to my Mum on the phone tonight and she said I can’t possibly go without a phone in London. Love you Mum, but it’s happening.

4 days to go

Running out of data is definitely giving me a taste of what the weekend is going to be like. I went to an event about social entrepreneurship yesterday afternoon. It was at a place I’ve never been to before, and my Google maps was not working due to lack of data allowance. So I literally had to (shock-horror!) use street signs and speak to people!

Talking to strangers was actually rather nice. One man even called up his friend to ask him for directions to the place I was looking for as he was unsure. However, part of me has been thinking it would be nice to top up my data and make the most of my apps and stuffs before the weekend.

3 days to go

Today was focus groups training day! Woo! This is a course I’ve been looking forward to going on. It’s basically all about how to run focus groups and get the best out of them – it was extremely interesting! Overall I had a great day – however, no data plus no WiFi meant I was unable to check Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Twitter, Emails… Nothing! ALL. DAY. And again, I had to ask a stranger for directions. This time I opted for a fruit and veg stall man, and rather embarrassingly I was standing outside the hotel I was looking for. I think this made me realise just how dependent I am on my Google maps… So much so that I’m incapable of just looking around me and using a bit of common sense!

2 days to go

So! Really chuffed with how many donations I’ve got – £73 so far! That’s 152% of my £48 target. So thank you so much to all who have donated! All day today my work colleague, Claudia, has suggested that I buy a board game. Lovely idea Claudia… But no. Plus I’m not going to have anyone to play with at this rate. Oooh, in happier news – my data has been renewed! This means I have spent as much time as possible today listening to Spotify.

Camera and photos
Looking forward to using this for 48 hours instead of Instagram

I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to fill my time this weekend… Most prominent ideas include – getting drunk for 48 hours, reading my book, getting the train somewhere and having a mooch, taking pictures with Rupert’s polaroid camera, going to the gym, going for a long walk, going to see Ellie, sleeping all weekend, or rocking up at my Nan’s house as a surprise.

Wonder whether I’ll do any of the above. Other worries include – what am I going to do without speaking to the boyfriend all weekend?! We must literally exchange about 50 texts/ Facebook messages/ Whatsapps/ Youtube clips/ Snapchats per day. Oh… And speak for around an hour most nights on the phone.

Ah well… You know the saying… Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

15 hours and 28 minutes to go…

I’m going into a digital coma. No phone, no internet, no social media, but most importantly NO GOOGLE MAPS. I think that is what I am freaking out about most…

Notebook and post-it notes
Ready for my digital free weekend with my old school notebook and Facebook message post-it notes!

On the way home from work

My phone died.

Boyfriend writingI was freaking out on the bus. I ALWAYS listen to Spotify when I’m on the bus, and I couldn’t. The 20 minute journey seemed like an hour long. Plus, when I got to my front door, I rang and rang the doorbell and nobody answered. Thankfully my phone decided it would turn back on for a quick burst so that I could call my boyfriend to let me in.

Wow, this weekend is going to be harder than I imagined. I knew it was going to be hard, but I was kind of joking about it and not thinking it through too much, but NOW it’s hit me! Eeek.

My lovely boyfriend wrote me a little note for the weekend 🙂

I’ve had some wine and I’m feeling pretty sad now.

Who’d have thought turning your phone and internet off for 48 hours would be so emotional?!

Only 33 minutes to go…

Saturday 23 November

So, on Saturday I literally woke up with clammy hands from DREAMING about the Internet?! I lay in bed for about an hour resisting the urge to check my phone before getting up like I usually would. After having a coffee and showering, I thought I might as well brave the outdoors and see how I get on.

At 11am I got the tube to Piccadilly Circus and walked to Oxford Street. I had a mooch around and found the camera shop Lomography on Carnaby Street. I’d never been to Carnaby Street before- it’s so cute! I was pretty surprised how easy it was to get around without Google maps. Admittedly it probably took me 5-10 minutes longer than it normally would – but I got there.

I then walked to Regent’s Park to experiment with the camera (Just going started now – I didn’t quite work the camera out over the weekend… You’ll see this from my photos! Out of 20 Polaroids you can only see something resembling a picture in about 4).

I found I was really aware of myself without having my phone or my headphones. Particularly on public transport where I always have my headphones on or am chatting away on my phone. I also noticed that I kept tapping my right coat pocket to check my phone was in there- which I normally do out of habit every 10 mins or so it seemed!

When I got back I called Gaz on the landline. Was so nice to chat, but really strange talking on the phone and not being able to move (old school landline)! Sounds silly but it was really weird putting the phone down and not being able to send a text or anything?! As normally we’d get off the phone and send a text goodnight or something. Gaz said he’d found the day difficult too, particularly not being able to send me funny Youtube clips!

Overall, the day was hard, but I did feel kind of liberated. One day down, one to go.

Sunday 24 November

Felt a bit better on Sunday! Think that’s because I knew I only had 24 hours left!

I woke up, had breakfast, watched a bit of Titchmarsh and then got ready to meet Ellie. I’d written directions to Ellie’s down on Friday so I was looking forward to seeing if I’d be able to find my way there without getting lost!

Got to Ellie’s about 20 minutes early so decided to walk around Vauxhall park and failed to take photos that were any good YET AGAIN. After roaming around for a bit I could hear “ALIIIIIICE!!!” And Ellie was hanging out of her top floor flat like Rapunzel!

Was slightly worried on the way back because I’d told Gaz I’d ring him on the landline around 5pm-ish and it was now nearly 8.30pm. Called him when I got in and he had been a bit worried about where I was! But it was nice to chat and remind ourselves that we’d be back to our obsessive-texting-selves by Monday.

Monday 25 November

Woke up this morning and couldn’t wait to turn on my phone to find:

  • 10 Facebook notifications
  • 5 texts
  • 8 Snapchats
  • 16 emails
  • 3 Instagram likes

Got ready for work in my usual way… Checking my phone in bed, checking it after having a shower, drying my hair and putting my make-up on whilst texting/Facebooking, getting on the bus with my headphones on listening to Spotify (whilst browsing the web) and only taking them off when I stepped into the office. Yay, back to the 21st century!

Despite slipping straight back into my usual ways I think I have learned a lot this weekend. Such as:

  • I CAN find my way from A to B without Google maps
  • I don’t need to be in constant contact with people, and it feels much nicer and more special when the contact is more sparse and deliberate.
  • I can go to the gym without my phone, and I think I will from now on.
  • I feel very self-conscious and more self-aware when I am without my phone and headphones- particularly on public transport.
  • I obsessively tap my right pocket to check my phone’s in there – I CAN sit on my own and not flick through my phone. People are on their phones SO MUCH.
  • I need to learn how to use a Polaroid camera

Polaroid photos

It seems like the weekend had a long-lasting effect on Alice as she soon updated her blog.

Guess what…

I went to the gym this morning WITHOUT my phone. And I traveled to work WITHOUT my headphones on. WHAT’S HAPPENED TO ME!?!”

For your chance to get to grips with using a Polaroid camera, sign up for your own 48 hour detox. Digital Detox will be returning the first weekend in March. To meet previous detoxers find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Can you survive 48 hours without digital?

A whole weekend with no Facebook, no phone, no tablet, nothing with a screen. That is exactly the challenge we set 20 Scope supporters back in November when introducing our brand new fundraising event Digital Detox. The event encourages our supporters to take up the challenge and experience just real analogue life, without the interference of technology.

In need of a detox was John Doree who pledged to go without tech for 48 hours and to re-engage with the offline side of life.

The tech-y way of life

No digital for 48 hours. No smart phones. No internet. Have a good old fashioned weekend.

When I first saw the Digital Detox challenge email I thought I’d give it a go. It’s my first bit of active participation in a Scope event and I was eager to do something and Digital Detox seemed a really good fit. I use my phone quite a bit for internet and a bit of social network stuff, but on the whole my phone usage pales in comparison to my use of other gadgets and gizmos. I listen to my MP3 player almost constantly on headphones, read using a Kindle, play games on a laptop, write music using said laptop and a host of other noise-making bits of hardware.
Despite all those bits of technology, on a personal level I thought just giving up one device wouldn’t be enough. The idea of dropping as much technology as I could for 48 hours was one that I thought would be a real challenge. It turned out to be much harder in reality.

My friends thought it would be a real nightmare for me, they’ve known me as the tech-obsessed geek with a penchant for software development and creating electronic music, so the thought of me ditching it all for a weekend was an amusing one. I think this was reflected in the generous donations that found their way to my Just Giving page and I was all too happy to give people a dread-filled commentary on Facebook in the run-up to the big switch-off. There were some last-ditch efforts to ensure I wouldn’t be completely scuppered over the weekend, I got some money out as I was including Cashpoints as accessible technology, then I just about remembered to switch my alarms off and that was it.

How many times do you check your phone?

The urge to check my phone was overwhelming, it was quite saddening at times to realise how much I instinctively reach for it when I’m doing even the most innocuous things like waiting for the kettle to boil. No Saturday morning TV either. There’s never anything on but there’s usually something recorded from the week on the Sky box, but no, this wasn’t allowed either. No music player or CD player in the living room. Right, OK then.

My other half had left for the day to catch up with her friends so I was left on my own. What was I going to do? I had a bath and hung up the washing. I did the washing up and changed the sheets. I took down the rubbish and recycling. I finished all these things and thought, now what? Read a book? So I read a book and promptly had a nap. The flat was so quiet and even our typically noisy neighbours were evidently also taking the weekend off their favourite activity of banging on the walls. Time just seemed to stretch before me and midnight Sunday evening was now a very distant prospect. Our plan for the evening was to go to a friend’s birthday in Camden and so I was relieved of my self-imposed analogue nightmare.

A virtual power cut

Sunday was a little more difficult, not just for me but for my now-suffering partner. My Digital Detox was now threatening her own activities, she felt guilty about turning the TV on or playing around on her phone and so left them alone in favour of the two of us just sitting around and having a chat. As much as we both wanted to laze around in front of the TV on a Sunday afternoon, in the end we found just sitting around nattering away for several hours was just as enjoyable.

By the time I went to bed on the Sunday evening I found I wasn’t missing technology as much as I thought I would. I was certainly looking forward to catching up on emails and continuing reading some trashy novel on the Kindle, but the predicted binge of technology on the Monday evening never came to pass.

So much is taken for granted and I felt that simply giving up my phone alone wasn’t enough.

The Just Giving page set up by the events team included the following bit of text:

“The money raised through Scope’s Digital Detox could help provide an iPad and accessories, so a student with limited verbal communication can interact in a way they have never done before – using equipment they can control themselves.”

This really resonated with me so I thought to draw a parallel between the cause and the challenge itself by trying to severely reduce my access to as much technology as possible. In the end it was fun, and a considerable challenge but it was an event that showed me how immediately accessible a lot of technology is these days.

Digital Detox will be returning for the first weekend in March. Sign up for your own 48 hour detox and pledge to embrace your inner analogue. For more information on how to sign-up to ‘go dark’ for a weekend of good old-fashioned fun check out the website or phone 020 7619 7270. To meet previous detoxers find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Sumatran Jungle Challenge: “A phenomenal adventure”

Over the years, Shirley Butler, 78, has raised over £24,000 for us by taking part in our challenge treks. Her travels for Scope have taken her to Cambodia, The Grand Canyon, Vietnam and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – to name just a few.

This September, she joined a group of committed trekkers venturing in to the Sumatran Jungle. Here is the story of her amazing journey.

The start of the adventure

If you want a great adventure then take up a Scope challenge. It was absolutely amazing! I will never forget my journey through the Sumatran jungle.

The Eco Lodge in Bukit Lawang
The Eco Lodge in Bukit Lawang

We flew from Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur, then on to Medan, the capital of Sumatra. We eventually arrived at the beautiful Eco Lodge in the village of Bukit Lawang. “Gunung” means mountain, “Bukit” means hill, “Llawing” means door – Bukit Lawang means “The hill which is the gateway to the mountain.” Nice eh!

My room in the Eco Lodge had a bed covered with a mosquito net. A ceiling fan and a dressing table added a touch of luxury. Every morning we were woken by the sound of monkeys running across the roof throwing fruit at each other.

Jungle delights

Orangutans in the Sumatran jungle
Orangutans in the Sumatran jungle

Our trek into the jungle was one of the many highlights. The jungle is dense, dangerous and hot.

Indonesia has the largest flower on earth. It has a strong odour of decaying flesh and because of this it is nicknamed the ‘Corpse Flower’. We were introduced to another fruit called the durian. “It smells like hell but tastes like heaven” one local told us. Taxi drivers have been known to ask people to leave their vehicles because of the overpowering smell!

We saw great orangutans, Thomas leaf monkeys and hornbills. Our guide pointed out a particularly big orangutan by the name of Ucok Baba. Ucok had not been seen in the area for over 15 years, but had recently returned to take his place at the head of the pack.

Village life

Sumatran Jungle trekkers preparing to cross the river
Sumatran Jungle trekkers preparing to cross the river

We trekked through the forest gully up to our chests in river water. Then we returned to the village to spend time with our hosts. My escort invited me in to his home to meet his family, and they told me stories over tea and biscuits.

On the final day we all took part in the local tree planting programme. To give something back to this wonderful country was a privilege and a pleasure. A celebration dinner was organised that night with traditional food and music. It was one of the wildest parties I have ever been to. Such fun!

A phenomenal adventure

Participants in the Sumatran Jungle Challenge
Participants in the Sumatran Jungle Challenge

If I had to sum up the whole of the adventure in to one word it would be “phenomenal”. It was an amazing journey and every day brought something different. To have been part of this – and to have had the opportunity to raise money for Scope – I felt like the most privileged person to have ever walked this planet.

Shirley couldn’t stay away for long. She’s already signed up for Trek Burma next year!

Dates for the 2014 and 2015 Sumatran Jungle Challenge are now available. Or visit some of the most magical places on earth with our other treks and challenges.

Can I give more? The answer is usually yes.

For the past few months I have been writing blog posts to showcase the amazing grit and determination of our event participants as they’ve supported Scope by taking on marathons, triathlons and extreme bike rides.

Now it’s time to turn the spotlight on myself. I want to tell you about my personal running experience; the highs, the lows, and my motivation to pick up a pair of trainers again. The quote in the title is from Paul Tergat, a Kenyan professional marathon runner. I’ve found myself relating to him a lot recently!

The pledge

Back in April I made a promise to our director of fundraising, Alan Gosschalk, that at some point this event season I would get involved in a Scope challenge event. It’s almost a rite of passage in the events team.

Conveniently for me, my pledge went forgotten for some time. That was until we met our Ironman UK participants in Bolton in August. I told them it would be a walk in the park and that they would enjoy the whole experience – which made me feel like a total fraud!

I remembered my promise and decided it was time to stick to my word. That evening I signed up for my first ever 5K run.

These shoes were made for running…

I begun my training routine in earnest using the NHS couch to 5K training plan. I had seven weeks to make sure I would get round the course without stopping.

I decided to invest in a decent pair of running trainers after having gait analysis at a top running shop. Gait analysis is a system where the motion of your feet is analysed to make sure your get the correct footwear. This involves running on a treadmill at three different speeds whilst a staff member watches the angle of your feet.

I managed the 5K distance in training, and was aiming to improve my speed. But two days before my run disaster struck! On my last training run, I couldn’t even complete 500 metres. My shins were in agony. I hobbled home in tears, upset that my weeks of hard work had come to this.

But after talking to my brother – who was doing the run with me – I was determined to carry on. I thought the pain was caused by shin splints, pain and swelling in the lower legs as a result of my body not being used to running.

Race day

A hilly running route
A challenging course

On the day I turned up to Leeds Castle near Maidstone in Kent ready to give it my all. I hadn’t done my research on the course and was shocked when I was faced with a cross-country, hilly route. I had only trained on the roads in suburban London!

There was no time to worry about that though. The klaxon went and my adrenaline kicked in. Thankfully, my brother stayed with me the whole way, chatting to me non-stop and helping to keep my mind off the pain.

Sarah Bowes after completing a 5K run
Happy after completing my first 5K

We crossed the finish line in exactly 37 minutes and I was thrilled! It took a good 48 hours to wipe the huge smile from my face and I was incredibly proud that I had actually done it, bursting into tears of exhilaration.

It may not be the quickest time but I know that my efforts in training and fundraising would make a big difference to the cause I was supporting.

The future?

Eight and a half weeks ago I couldn’t run the 200m from my house to the top of the road and I’m more determined than ever not to get in that state again. My doctor confirmed that the pain in my legs is shin splints so I have three weeks off from running, dancing or jumping to recover.

But I will be back to running as soon as I can. I know 5km is not the longest of distances but for me it was a big personal challenge that I managed to overcome.

My brother and I are already looking to do another 5K before Christmas. My aim for 2014 is to get a minute a month off my 5K time by pushing myself like Paul Tergat. When I can comfortably do a 30 minute 5K I will increase my distance and go for 10K. Watch this space!

If my story has encouraged you to get up off the couch, take a look at what Scope event you could get involved in next year.

The toughest Ironman on the planet? Done.

Guest post from Scope fundraiser – and Ironman – Tom Partridge

On 8 September Pembrokeshire played host once again to Ironman Wales. 1,675 athletes from 40 countries took on the strength-sapping course and I was in the group of participants facing the open water sea swim off the coast of Tenby.

Ironman Wales is a 2.4 mile sea swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a marathon all rolled into one. The race has quickly gained a reputation for being one of the most gruelling events in the Ironman calendar.

My motivation

Tom's broken shoulder
Tom’s broken shoulder

Ironman had been on my list of things to do for a while. This year I turned 30 and it was time to be good to my word and get on and do it! I figured that while I was putting in the time and training effort, why not raise some money for a great charity, Scope, along the way.

Training was intense, fun, tiring, testing, rewarding, boring, long and at times so brutal. I had to overcome a shoulder injury I’d had earlier in the year. I knew I’d need every bit to help me prepare for the physical and mental challenge of completing the mammoth distance in under 17 hours.

Raising money for Scope was a great motivation and the support and donations that have been generated have been PHENOMENAL. It was an honour to be sponsored, and to give other young people the chance to fulfil their dreams. Not completing was not an option! 

A great day

The swim transition
The swim transition

On the day, it could not have gone better for me. The swimming conditions were great and I felt ready after three days of preparing in Tenby.

The swim is always hectic with 1,600 people fighting in the water for the first lap. You only get into the rhythm on the second lap.

Legging it through town to the swim-to-bike transition was epic. People were cheering and I got high fives off supporters. Seeing my friends and family on the route was ace.

Then my weakest section – the bike ride. But the £400 bike I got from eBay did me proud. Painted in my race colours, we flew past the £5,000 bikes with their punctures and troubles.

My aim with the marathon was to keep going slow and to keep injury free. I went at a comfortable pace, waving to the family on each lap and revelling in the amazing support through town. My last lap was tough, but all the cheering sent me down the finishing straight.

So how well did I do?

Tom at the Ironman Wales finish
Tom at the Ironman Wales finish

I managed to complete the whole course in: 12 hours, 52 minutes and 5 secs. This put me in 489th place overall.

I am over the moon with my times and achievements of the day and also the amount of money I have been able to raise in the process.

I have huge amounts of thanks and praise to give to everyone who donated and supported me in reaching the current total, well in excess of £1,400.

In addition, I have to say a huge thanks to my friends and family for their time and patience during this process (especially Jo and Felix) and of course, the supporters and people of Tenby who made the 8th September one of the greatest days of my life so far!

If it doesn’t already sound tough enough to you, take a look at the coverage of the event to see even the elites struggling with the course.

Tom’s hard work and determination has meant that he has already raised more than his fundraising target and you can still sponsor him. He has been keeping a blog of his training and Ironman experiences, and you can look at all his images from the day on his Facebook page. If you’ve put becoming an Ironman on your list of things to do in 2014, we still have places available.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”

In July we introduced you to Team Scope athlete, Mike Jones, as he prepared to take part in Ironman Sweden. The following is an unknown text that he has come across which we’re sure will be very apt for a number of you: 

“In a race and finding it hard, look back, not just at the people who are running behind you but especially at those who don’t run and never will… those who run but don’t race…those who started training for a race but didn’t carry through…those who got to the starting line but didn’t the finish line…those who once raced better than you but no longer run at all. You’re still here. Take pride in wherever you finish. Look at all the people you’ve outlasted.”

These sentiments are even more appropriate for Mike looking back on his Ironman experience.

For those that do not know by now, I got to cross the finish line in Kalmar, however was outside “Lock Down”. But for me that was job done. This was the first time I’d completed the full 140.2 miles of an Ironman or Long Course Triathlon and what an incredible experience. When that moment came to cross that line, and even though it was late, I was given a reception I will never forget.

The people of Kalmar

A little about Ironman Sweden and  I hope to do the event justice. I have to start with the people of Kalmar and the surrounding area. A city that normally has 30 thousand people rose to over 100 thousand on the day. All around the bike and run course there were constant Ironman Parties that went on all day which created an atmosphere I have never experienced. Getting stopped in the street the following day and being greeted as a “hero,” “the man that did not stop” by people just out and about their daily lives is still leaving me speechless.

The course itself

The swim course was one of the most technical I have swum over that distance. Sighting was a little bit of a problem as I was not able to pick up the next turn buoy until late. But the last 1k at least brought you so close to the shore where the support was like swimming in a pool. This probably made it a bit easier as all I needed to do was follow the long line people shouting encouragement in their respective languages. Overall for me not a fast swim, but conditions were not that easy either.

The bike has been in the past for me where it has all gone wrong. I now have a new PB for the 112 miles, taking a massive 2 hours plus off my previous best. As for the course, the roads for the majority of the distance were like a race track (Britain you have a lot to learn).

The Marathon run course was 3 loops of Kalmar and district. It was quite early on when I felt the need to go into survival mode and with the words of Tracy Williams in my head, “every step forward is a step closer to the finishing line.” It took me more than 8 miles just to get into any sort of rhythm.

Determination to finish

At one point I had to sit down to consider if I was going to carry on, when a gust of wind blew me to my feet. It was time to believe – I think by this time finishing had become more important than time. If I was to analyse the run element then the following would be the key point: yes, I had trained for the run, but with past experiences I had not trained enough… surprising how much the mind influences training plans.

The reception coming into Kalmar at the end of this loop was in the words of Burt Le Berock, “unbelievable, just unbelievable.” The encouragement both from the people present and those at home over a thousand miles away was the drive to go on to the last 18k loop. This was going to push me forward. A few safety checks from the organisers and I was allowed to continue, I now just needed to give a little bit more.

The Name of the Game was to cover 140.2 miles and with the support of many this was done. Now is a time to reflect on what I have achieved and what I wish to do in the future. One thing I already know is that I will not be giving into my Neuromuscular Condition.

Future events?

Mike went on to get a great time in the Bupa Great North Run, setting a new PB for a half marathon distance. 2014 will prove to be a busy year for him, taking on the Bath Half Marathon in March, the Eton 10k swim in May and the Outlaw Long Course Triathlon covering 140.6 miles in July to name but a few! We wish him all the best as he continues his fundraising and for his events next year.

If you’ve been tempted to take part in a triathlon or endurance event then make sure you check out what we have to offer.

Will you catch “the running bug”?

Like many of us, Ellen O’Donohoe was more likely to put her feet up on an evening then get out and go for a run. But that all changed when she caught the ‘running bug’ from her housemate and in just three weeks time Ellen will be running her first ever half marathon for Scope at Run to the Beat. Like many of our participant’s, Ellen’s motivations for signing-up with Scope are personal – here’s her story documenting her training, injuries and fundraising over the past few months:

I was never very sporty growing up. I was always happier reading a book rather than playing sports. I surprised myself by getting into running. I was looking for a way to exercise (to lose some weight, if I’m honest) and decided that sticking to an exercise routine would be easier with a friend so I began joining my housemate who liked to run. It took a while, and I didn’t see it happening, but I grew to love running.

A tough Winter

Even so, earlier this year, during the bitterly cold winter months, I was finding it harder and harder  to go running. I decided to sign up for a race, something I’ve never done before,  so that I would have something to work towards. Running for charity made sense to me because I knew it would help to keep me motivated. My cousin had cerebral palsy and knowing of the support that Scope provides to people like her made me want to raise money for them.

The highs and lows of training

I started training right away, I had a long way to go from my two-three miles every week. I steadily increased the miles I was doing and was very proud the first time I reached 10K. Something I never would have believed I could do just a few years ago. Unfortunately, I pushed too hard and pulled a calf muscle. It was so frustrating. I was unable to run for six weeks!

Ellen's Colleagues Limbering Up for their Bleep Test

During that time I focused on fundraising instead. I organised a sponsored bleep test at work and convinced a few colleagues to join me. I planned it well in advance so my leg had time to heal (although it was close) five racers took part, including myself, and together we raised nearly £80.

Ellen's relieved finishers!A dash to the confidence

To help with my training and to get me used to the race atmosphere I signed up for a shorter race. I agreed to be part of a relay team for the Upton Tri in July, running 10k. It happened to fall on one of the hottest days of the year. By the time I was due to run my section the temperature had already reached 30 degrees. It was horrible. I made it half way around before the heat got the better of me and forced me to walk/run the rest. It took me a long time to reach the finish line, so much longer than I hoped. I finished the race disheartened, wishing I could have done better and worried about what this might mean for the race in September.

A little over a week later, I ran 10 miles for the first time in training. It did wonders for my confidence. It was such a difference from my practice race. For the first time I felt that no matter what happened, I would be able to make it across the finish line.

Injury free until race day?

As far as fundraising goes, my friends and family have been very generous. I still have a little way to go to reach my target but I’m hopeful I’ll make it. For now, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will stay injury free until race day. Despite all the ups and downs that I now know comes with training I hope, that by race day, I will be strong enough and prepared enough to run the whole 13.1 miles.

If you’d like to sponsor Ellen and help her reach her fundraising goal then do visit her online giving page. We’ll be there on race day to cheer Ellen and our other Team Scope runners along the Run to the Beat course – if you’d like to be there with us then please do volunteer by emailing us at events@scope.org.uk. Or why not take on your own challenge for Scope?

I’m an endurance athlete. With one leg. #100days100stories

We first published Chris’s story in 2013, and we’re sharing it again as part of Scope’s 100 days, 100 stories campaign. Four years after an awful motorbike accident, Chris Arthey took part in his first marathon as an amputee. 

Chris taking part in Run to the Beat 2012Hi, my name is Chris Arthey and I’m an endurance athlete. With one leg.

In 2008 my wife Denise and I both lost our left legs in a road accident. With lots of encouragement and modern technology we’ve been able to get mobile again.

Running was, and is once more, a big part of my life. In 2012 I completed my tenth full marathon. It was my first as an amputee. In this ‘revised configuration’ I’ve also competed in five triathlons and four half-marathons; in one of those I managed an age-group (55+) second place against able-bodied runners, which surprised a few people – me included!

My daughter Miriam was there to cheer me on in the 2012 marathon, and decided that she wanted to run a half-marathon herself. Because I’m a proud Dad I promised that wherever I was in the world I would fly home to London and we would run it together. So we signed up to raise funds for Scope in Run to the Beat and I travelled back from Texas for the event. We had a blast as a Dad-daughter team.

Chris and Miriam at the finishWe wanted to support Scope because of the outstanding work they do for disabled people. When you have a disability it’s very easy to get downhearted and frustrated, but support and resources can transform this.

Denise and I have been very fortunate to survive and put our lives back together. Take a look at our short biographical video. It’s good to be able to encourage others in the way that we have been encouraged. And to be able to build more family memories with Miriam and our two sons. Every day is a gift.

If you’ve been inspired by Chris and Denise’s story to take part in an event for Scope, take a look at what we have to offer on our website.

Find out more about 100 days, 100 stories and how you can get involved

One man, one bike, no sleep!

We can’t help but be proud and shout from the rooftops about the achievement of our 230 cyclists who made it from London to Paris last weekend in 35 degree heat, raising a fantastic amount for Scope’s work.

Four weeks ago, Team Scope athlete Paul Thompson suffered an almighty blow when he hit the tarmac on a training ride. Paul documented his (and his bike’s!) road to recovery with some pretty graphic images on his own blog and on our London to Paris 24 forum.

"Ouch! 7 months and 1800 miles of training, just undert 70 miles into a 150 on Sunday, the last 'big' ride before L2P, averaging just over 17 mph, feeling good...  1 sec, 1 sunken drain cover hidden in shadows, a newly surfaced road and ... bang!  6 xrays (shoulder/collar bone, ankle, elbow, 3 x fingers) all OK; Op wednesday to fix hole in elbow (worn through to bone) - cleaned up and stitched, no need for a graft fingers crossed!  On the mend and so's the bike.... 4 weeks to go and firmly focused on July 6 and 7, I'll be there..."

PT in hospital

With a lot of support from the other riders on the forum (and of course the NHS) Paul began his recuperation.

"Thanks for all the messages of support - they really help. NHS have been brilliant, seeing specialist tomorrow to find out how the elbow is healing after the op - fingers crossed (sort of)!"3 weeks later, he was already back in the saddle and looking forward to the event – as Paul put it “Body courtesy of NHS, Bike courtesy of Owens Cycles, Petersfield.”

"Back in the saddle!  See post of June 7 - but delighted to report stitches are out of my elbow and I got back on the (mountain) bike today for some serious off road hill climbing.  Road bike should be back from LBS this weekend (or Tuesday next at the latest) - ironic that it's taken longer to get back up and running than me but I wanted to source the original forks that have had to be shipped in from France.  So all should be back together in time for July 6th - see you all then."

Paul Thompson 4On Saturday 6th July, Paul had made a fantastic recovery and was at the start line.

“Arriving at the start and sensing the quiet determination across the participants you knew this would be something special. My objectives: get to Paris before 1:00pm local time and enjoy the ride.”

PT 10“Into the ride and there was never a moment of disappointment, steady cycling, plenty of camaraderie and support for each other and soon the drear of London gave way to the rolling landscape of Kent.

Cycling solo I hoped to meet up with a few like minded and similar paced individuals whom I could team up with and settle into the right tempo without getting caught up in the frenzy of a larger peloton.  First I joined up with Scott Elliot, who lived in Paris and so was cycling 271 miles home (how cool is that?) and then Mark and Martin Hinchcliffe (of single speed fame) and with occasional others we cruised down to Dover.  The only discomfort a wasp sting in the thigh at 30 miles (nasty at this time of year) and with a fleeting glimpse of the Battle of Britain memorial on top of the famous white cliffs we descended into Dover.

Coming off the ferry pretty much last Scott and I settled in for the night shift with 50 minutes to make up because of the ferry delay.  I think everyone will remember those first miles in the dark on French soil, the tarmac feeling smooth as marble under wheel after the lumps and bumps of English highways; the pace, the smells, the excitement.  By first stop we had almost caught the front peloton a snake of red seen cresting each hill a couple of minutes ahead.  We joined them for the next 20 miles until we were split by a mad lorry driver and soon found ourselves back as a twosome, sailing through the night.

By breakfast  the 50 minute deficit had become a 15 minute buffer to 24 hour pace and we could first start to think of making it to Paris within the time (albeit we still had 100 miles to go!)  Given the heat it was a surprise to get hit by the cool and damp before dawn but it didn’t last long and a beautiful dawn unfolded, accompanied by the smell of fresh bread, the bark of farm dogs and the crowing of French Cockrills.  We powered on, gazing out across the countryside that next year will look back 100 years to a time of a less welcome invasion, a chill to think of all those who suffered and died on this land.

With the big climb out of Amiens behind us it was time for the final push to Paris and with some help from Ruslan raising our tempo in the morning sun the French capital came within touching distance.  Onwards, ever nearer and into the heat and traffic of the suburbs.  Roads deteriorating, red lights never quite in sync and city traffic all stood in our way until at last we crossed the Seine and flew into central Paris.  One right turn and there, at the top of the rise, framed by brilliant blue sky – the Arc Du Triomphe, almost there!

PT 11Down the Champs Elysee (how does Le Tour race on those cobbles?) and finally round to the Tour Eiffel and the finish; 15 minutes to spare, 16 hours and 35 minutes in the saddle, a moment to realise we had done it and for me to reflect on 5 weeks earlier being wheeled at that very time into A&E Chichester with multiple injuries and a suspected broken shoulder/collar bone having just emptied my first bottle of gas and air…”

Paul’s just one example of the unbelievable grit and determination in all of our L2P24 riders. We’re pleased to report that Paul was under the Eiffel Tower within the 24 hour target and has already fundraised a fantastic £2100!

“L2P24, can you really described it – no you have to experience it; and we were lucky enough to do it in fantastic conditions with the magnificent support of Scope, Action Challenge and their support teams, and of course a great bunch of like minded cyclists…..”

If you think you’re brave enough why not sign-up now take on the event next year? Could you cycle from London to Paris in 24 hours? 

They made it to the Eiffel Tower!

Last week we introduced you to Gethin and Nikki who were courageously taking on our London to Paris 24 2013 challenge. Here are Gethin’s thoughts as they begin to recover from cycling 280 miles of tarmac.

Not really sure how to start this blog. Even four days after finishing London to Paris in 24 hours, my head is still a jumble of emotions but here goes…

Gethin and Nikki at the start
“Challenges that disabled people face, even after all the positive publicity from last year’s Paralympics, still shocked me”

Before the start at Blackheath, one of the Scope trustees, Rachael Wallach, gave a great speech about the work Scope is doing and what the £300k (and counting) we raised is going to be used for. Despite having been involved with Scope for a few years now, what she was saying about the challenges that disabled people face, even after all the positive publicity from last year’s Paralympics, still shocked me.

One particular thing Rachael said stayed in my head through the ride and will do for a long time to come: “when you’re struggling on the bike, think of the people who are struggling with disabilities every day of their lives”. That’s a very powerful motivator when you’re close to your limit on an event like this.

What’s London to Paris 24 really like?

I’ve tried lots of different ways to describe what it’s like to ride L2P24 then I saw Pete Mitchelmore had come up with this gem on the ride’s Facebook forum:

  • “L2P24 riders in Dinner suits! Wow, respect!”
  • “I think it’s getting hotter”
  • “How many traffic lights”
  • “This food is great!”
  • “Urggh this hill out of Folkstone is tough, oh look the photographer!”
  • “Where is the ferry, we’re getting cold!”
  • “Ferry docked”
  • “Wow it’s dark here”
  • “It’s even darker here!”
  • “I think I’m on a hill but can’t see it”
  • “Crazy French cycling supporters out at 2:00am!”
  • “aaah sunrise”
  • “More great food!”
  • “Getting hotter”
  • “How many hills?”
  • “These roundabouts all look the same”
  • “Didn’t we pass those wind turbines an hour ago?”
  • “Hot”
  • “OMG Champs Elysees insanity!”
  • “Finish – did it!”
  • “Need beer”
  • End 🙂

The adrenaline rush from taking your life into your own hands on the roundabout around the Arc Du Triomphe is something else. Spot a gap…Deep breath…Nail it as hard as you can…Pray…then hit the jarring cobbles of the Champs….

Fancy dress anyone?

l2p24 suits
The two nutters in Dinner Suits

When you do a ride like this you pray for good weather. For most of the year we’ve trained in the cold, wet and wind – so 35C temperatures came as a bit of a culture shock. A few people really suffered with dehydration but most people survived to the end, even the two nutters in Dinner Suits from the PwC team.

When you get out on the road it’s your fellow riders that make it special – and it was no surprise that the L2P24 “Class of 2013” were a cracking bunch. People you’ve never met before suddenly become your new best mates as you ride with them, having a chat, sharing the work whilst burning through the miles to Paris. If someone needs some help, roadside assistance, food or equipment from another rider it’s done without question. Another rider even chased me down for a mile on Stage 3 as he saw I’d missed a turning. I never saw him after that (think it was Charles – rider 175) – but thank you, that was well above and beyond the call of duty.

Enough fuel in the tank for another year?

Will I be back? Almost certainly. Having ridden relay twice now, I have unfinished business with riding the whole thing. Will it be next year? Almost certainly not 🙂

Finally, there are a lot of people we need to thank for helping us through this:

  • Our friends & family, who sponsor and support us through hard months of training.
  • Scope and Action Challenge for putting on an event that must be a logistical nightmare to organise, then show up on the day and are enthusiastic, smiling and encouraging for 36 hours. Nothing is too much trouble for them.
  • All of the support crews – medical, catering, logistics and mechanical. An unsung job, but always there in the background when you need them and vitally important.
  • Most of all, the riders. I touched on this above but the camaraderie on the road is very special.

I said in my previous blog that I wanted a picture with Nikki by the Eiffel Tower as it meant she would have made it to Paris. I’ve done this kind of thing before but this was her first endurance cycling event. I’m so proud of what she pushed herself through this year to make it to the finish line. Here is the photo to prove it:

Gethin and NikkiCould you cycle from London to Paris in 24 hours?