One thing which I learned very quickly when left on my own in Scandinavia was that I am – undoubtedly – a massive wimp when it comes to being alone anywhere when it is dark. Or even sometimes when it isn’t dark. During the run, I kept telling myself I would get braver as the time wore on but I absolutely didn’t. Every night, without fail, I would be in the tent quivering (and in my defence also shivering) before the sun had had the chance to disappear. I would also camp as close to other people as possible – stomping on the rules of adventure and probably placing myself at more risk than had I been brave enough to walk a few hundred metres from my safety blanket that was the roadside.
So, naturally, when planning my latest adventure, this would have to change.
I am all for pushing myself, facing my fears and all that jazz – but I consider that fear to have been faced enough for a while. I also know that doing something in a group of friends – even if it’s something pretty tough – is likely to be a lot more fun than doing it on your own. And so – I decided that if I was going to run across Iceland (which I kind of have to do to help complete the Scandinavian thing I’ve got going on) – I’d have to find at least one person adventurous (stupid?) enough to come with me. Luckily, not only have I been able to find one person – I’ve actually found four. And a driver. Remarkable.
So without further ado – here is a brief introduction (in mostly their own words) to my wonderful team of adventurers (/equally crazy people).
1. Ruben Rubizon
Ruben was the first person to sign up for the challenge. Which makes sense really, because we have never actually met in person, and so he probably doesn’t really know what he is getting himself in for. Ruben is from Belgian, lives in Norway, and runs an impressive amount of mileage each week – but who can blame him when his local playground comes complete with mountains, frozen lakes and reindeer. Ruben offered me a place to stay when I was in Northern Norway – and we have stayed in contact since. In his own words – this is why he is coming along…
“New year, new challenges! I’m not sure where to start off. Best description would be that I’m some kind of a belgian semi ultra-runner. Living in the north of Norway, Some Britisch athlete passed my door a while ago so I started following her (virtually). Challenges and crazy ideas like this are my cup of green tea and I guess that’s why I ended up here. Not sure how I will prepare for the trip. Running with a backpack is not something I am used to. I tend to eat a lot and I have no idea where I will leave all that, so that’ll be the challenge.”
2. Steph Roberts
Ruben getting in touch and asking about the plan at the tail end of last year made me realise that it was about time I actually looked for some more people to join us, and the first person I went to was, naturally, one of my closest friends – Steph.
For years, Steph and I have shared similar dreams – Olympic Kayaking being one of the most time consuming – and the one that we bonded over most. When I set off to Scandinavia – Steph said that when I came back we should do something like this together. Steph has endurance when it comes to kayaking – and is an absolute machine in the gym – but she is even less of a runner than I was this time two years ago. Nevertheless, she doesn’t seem daunted by the task ahead at all – which is epic. In her own words – this is why Steph said yes to coming along…
“I completely believe that we shouldn’t box ourselves into a job when we could be using life to travel and see the world. I’m tired of my Job and at 24 I think it’s time to finally start my dream of travelling. When Sophie asked me to do this my first thought was absolutely! Time to chase the dream even it if means time for sore knees…”
3. Cadi Lambert
The next person to sign up to the run didn’t even need to be asked.
Instead, a few christmas bevvies and a chat with Steph seemed to do the job. I’ve known Cadi for a little while now, as we used to work together at British Canoeing. Cadi is one of those people who can just make anyone feel instantly at home, has a great sense of humour and is not one to shy away from a challenge. Already an adventurer, blogger, runner, cyclist, swimmer, ambassador etc etc. I had absolutely no doubt that Cadi would be a welcome addition to the team.
Here’s the story from Cadi’s point of view…
“I’m so excited about this adventure. I went to Iceland a few years ago for a few days and have always said I want to go back and run or cycle there (I did manage one little run when I was out there!).
I’m a sucker for accepting a challenge, so jumped at the chance to be on this trip when Steph mentioned it.
Hoping to share all the planning, training, fun and tough times on my blog . This is going to be epic!”
4. Mel Brooks
Having already acquired 3 people to join me on the trip – I didn’t really think my luck could get any better. But then a friend of mine – who had actually mentionned she wanted to get involved a while back – reminded me that she was being quite serious.
Mel is – yet again – someone I worked with at British Canoeing – and I can honestly say she was one of the best things I got out of that job. Mel and I are like chalk and cheese. Complete opposites in almost everything – apart from in sense of humour and I guess taste in friends. Mel didn’t really want to come and run with us – but in typical Mel style – she wanted to help. Being an absolute whizz with a camera and an absolutely incredible (no sarcasm at all involved there) driver, Mel made the perfect candidate to be our one man support crew. Because we will be out in the sticks for the majority though – Mel’s role will really kick in for the last few days – where she will fly out solo, collect a camper and drive to the finish – so that she can capture us finishing and then give us a lift round the sights when we are done.
Of course, thats a lot to ask of anyone, but Mel took it all with enthusiasm and so I can be confident she’s the right gal for the job. Plus it will be awesome to explore with her when we are done. This is why Mel said she signed up…
“Hi all, I’m Mel. Unlike most others on here, I am not an athlete, but, I have definitely been on the search for an adventure & this trip sounds like just that.
Sophie’s adventurous spirit & drive have inspired me to try something new, so what better person to support on her latest adventure?
My involvement in the trip will be a shorter period & I will be there to support the team, provide any resources they need & come along for the ride & explore a wonderful country.
I’m very excited to see what happens, follow along & be just a tiny part of this exciting trip.”
5. Charlotte Rooney
The last person to sign up for the trip was actually the person who surprised me the most. Shortly before Christmas – when we were quiz teaming as a family – my sister said that she wanted to join me us on the run. At first I went along with it – thinking she wasn’t very serious. A few days later, when she was still talking about coming on the trip, I realised she wasn’t joking.
My sister and I are also not very similar in character. I have always been the sporty, loud, mucky, focussed, showy-offy one, whilst Charlotte was always the quiet, slightly airy fairy, artsy, shy one. I guess this means I have never considered she would want to try something like this – and therefore when she said she was – I panicked a little. I doubted her ability to do it and I also questioned whether she would actually accept my authority. I also never said anything to Charlotte because she’s my older sister, and quite frankly she’s a little bit scary.
But, having had some time to think about it properly, it’s actually bloody brilliant that she has signed up. To have the chance to do this at all is epic. To share it with friends is marvellous. But to share it with my sister is insane. How many siblings can say they ran across a country together?
I know that there will be times when we fall out – hopefully before rather than during. But I think I stand to learn a lot about myself by taking her along (mostly around traits such as tolerance and patience), and I’m so pleased that she is giving it a go. The first few weeks of training have reminded me that the biggest thing Charlotte and I have in common is a gritty and stubborn determination to prove others wrong. Or to prove herself in Charlotte’s case. Here is why Charlotte signed up in her own words…
“Hi guys! I am super excited about this adventure! I have never done anything this extreme before but I am training hard and hoping to be fit enough to do it. I’ve wanted to visit Iceland for so long and what a great way to experience it! I can’t wait to meet you all properly.”
And that is the official starting team.
All six of us.
The fun thing is we are also likely to have a few more people joining us at the end to celebrate. Which is awesome.
So here’s to 6 months of hard training and the adventure to end all adventures.