Having fun…

The other day I found myself wondering how climbing Mt Kilimanjaro is going to rate as compared with other fun stuff I’ve done.

I know it will be physically demanding. I know it will require mental toughness too.

Our expedition organiser came to check us out last month (risk assessment, I suppose – elf & safety) He explained to us that it’s the mental toughness which gets you to the summit on the last day, so long as you have enough energy reserves.

training in Scotland (Beinn Ghlas)

Those reserves run down over the first 5 days. The altitude adversely affects your sleeping and appetite, while you’re walking 5-6 hours per day. Then you’re having to make that summit climb on very low oxygen. Sounds tricky.

The right training and preparation will help, of course. Let’s hope I’ve done enough.

training in Bavaria (Schachen)

So, comparisons.

Going off to play rugby in France when I was 19 was tough (but fun). I went to Toulouse, in the heartland of French rugby. I didn’t play at Stade Toulousain – the big division 1 team – but for a division 2 club. Mind you, almost all the players in that league were semi-professional.

My “deal” to remain amateur (on paper) was a part time job with a full time salary, tax free. I earned about the same as newly qualified teacher in the UK. Not bad for 19.

I arrived in Toulouse on a Sunday night, I had 2 training sessions that week, and then was in the team to play at Castelsarrasin on the Saturday. Hardly time to learn my teammates’ names. It went well – a 24-24 draw away from home. A lovely stadium, glorious September sunshine (too hot for rugby) and real “champagne” French rugby.

The first league game was the next week – at Carcassonne.


That was the end of the honeymoon. We sneaked a 6-6 draw, when we were supposed to be easy meat for the home team.

Early in the 2nd half my opposite number was sent off for “repeated brutality”… against me. Their game plan involved getting me sent off for retaliation, or taken off injured. He was on a bonus if that happened.

The police had to be called to escort us (and the referee) out of the stadium. The local crowd wanted revenge.

Kilimanjaro. Mental & physical toughness. Hope they’re still there.

© iain taylor 2011

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