15 Jun The Story So Far
It must have been last Christmas when we decided to challenge ourselves to do something different this summer.
I wanted to cycle around the world. Ben wanted to climb Mount Elbrus.
So we settled somewhere in the middle.
The Elevation Challenge was born out of our two passions and a little bit of inspiration. The story starts last summer in Chamonix, France, where Ben was working for Dream Guides mountaineering company. He was lucky enough to be able to climb Mt Blanc, and it was there that he first met Sam Branson and Noah Devereux, who together organised The Strive Challenge.
The Strive Challenge consisted of travelling from London to the summit of the Matterhorn under human power, and with the help of an amazing team Sam and Noah managed to raise over £750,000 for the charity Big Change.
Ben was fortunate to be able to meet Sir Richard Branson, as well as be introduced by Sam and Noah to Big Change’s aim of accelerating positive change for young people in the UK.
Back in the UK and inspired by what The Strive Challenge had achieved, we knew a long distance expedition was possible. So we came up with a trip of our own to support the great work of Big Change.
In between studying for our exams at LSE, playing an active role in the student body, and managing to win my age category in the Paris Marathon in a time of 3hrs 26 mins, we began to scheme away.
We started coming up with our own ideas for an original adventure.
We wanted to do something that would combine Ben’s passion for mountaineering with my dream of cycling around the world. So after we’d ruled out the crazy ideas to circumnavigate the globe, we settled upon an idea that we felt was challenging and at the same time realistic: to travel from the lowest to the highest point in Europe.
We’d decided on what we wanted to do, but we still had to find out where the start and finish would actually be; Mt Elbrus in Russia is at 5642m the ‘highest’ point in Europe, but some discount it from Europe, favouring Mt Blanc instead. We located two low points in western Europe, (both -7m below sea level) one of which was the Zuidplaspolder in Holland.
We eventually settled on the Zuidplaspolder as the start point, and Mount Elbrus as the end, and The Elevation Challenge was born: a 5,000km cycle through Holland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia and Russia, followed by a 5,642 m climb to the highest point in Europe. A nine week physical struggle which will test our abilities to the limits!
The journey so far has been a long one, from late nights working on the website to long afternoons planning logistics, the ‘to do list’ was lengthy. Before we could set off, we also had to pack in as much training as possible. To hit our daily target of 110km we’ve had to get as fit as possible!
Throughout our planning we always knew that we wanted to raise money for charity. Big Change was founded by Sam and Holly Branson in 2010 with the aim of accelerating positive change for young people in the UK.
By providing funding, expertise, connections and mentorship, Big Change helps to turn the most innovate ideas into reality, and we are excited to be able to contribute to what is a fantastic charity run by a fantastic team!
Like Big Change, we believe in the power of young people.
We’re from a state school background, and we know how important the non-academic skills like leadership, resilience, focus and determination are for achieving success. We hope the story that we can tell through our adventure will help to inspire other young people to follow their passions and take on their own challenges.
To ensure all the money we raise goes directly to Big Change, one of our first tasks was to secure sponsorship to fund the cost of the expedition.
We are very grateful for the support we have received from our amazing sponsors, the Mark Evison Foundation, The Cosaraf Foundation, Hubrick, and the LSE Annual Fund.
We have also been fortunate to secure kit from Halfords, Snow and Rock, and Bergans, as well as sports nutrition from Bounce Balls, Revital and High5. We are pleased to be working with Russian Mountain Holidays for our Elbrus Climb. It’s great to have a big team behind us sporting our ideas and our ambitions!
We have a few weeks to go before we head off… From shipping climbing kit to Russia to working on squat challenges in the gym, its going to be a busy few weeks. We hope you will follow our story and give generously to the worthy cause of accelerating positive change for young people in the UK.
Keep and eye on our blog and our twitter as well to keep updated with our travels!