I'm a Champion.....

….don’t you know!

Champions Assemble!

Champions Assemble!

However, something you might not know……..”on average people spend more time on the BOG than they do OUTSIDE or EXERCISING!”

Alarmingly Brits spend twice as long on the toilet each week as they spend exercising, according to a new poll. Incredibly, the average British adult whiles away three hours and nine minutes sitting on their loo every week, but just 90 minutes exercising. In fact, 26 per cent of people are active for 30 minutes or less every seven days.

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This week I was back in the company of Champions, the Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champions to be exact. At the end of November 2015 I was notified that I had been selected to become an OS #GetOutside Champion for 2016, 3 years later and in to my 4th year I’m still clinging on, somewhat proudly to that role.

At times considering the ‘calibre’ of some of the Champs, I feel a bit of an impostor, and always in awe (and somewhat dumbstruck) in their company. I don’t or have never climbed Everest, I don’t ‘do the outdoors’ as my job. I write a blog, that has a small reach, (which also now turns out I need to change the name of) so I’m anything but prolific and I’ve certainly never written a book (although I am trying). I don’t collaborate with any brands, I don’t eat insects to survive nor do I openly love the company of invertebrates, under the canopy of the trees and stars!

The reality is I’m just a normal guy. I was never a boy scout, nor a girl guide for that matter. I wasn't even aware of The DofE growing up. I never considered the notion of the cadets and then possibly being in the forces. However, I am of that generation where we did spend most of our lives outdoors, no matter the weather, God forbid, there wasn’t even 4 channels to watch on the TV until I was 10!

I wouldn’t even say I was adventurous, sure I would wander off to ‘Devils Dyke’ and ‘Bluebell Woods’ and all the cool places, close to where I grew up, where you could potentially get lost and injure yourself or both, but my biggest escape was always sport, predominantly running.

That’s me, the Shortarse - 2nd Left. Winning the annual 10 miler at School.

That’s me, the Shortarse - 2nd Left. Winning the annual 10 miler at School.

Sport was a major part of my life, all through my life, whether that be golf, football or running, I found I could do all at a pretty decent level, albeit not as an elite, I guess I was the quintessential jack of all trades and master of none. However, it kept me fit, healthy and provided me with a great group of friends and an active social life.

And then in my 39th year, life took a turn that broke me, and from there I needed to rebuild myself, not physically, but mentally and emotionally.

Grief can destroy you, and having already lost two of the role models that had shaped my life in my Granddad and Uncle, losing my Brother (and best friend) was the cruellest blow of them all. For a while I was lost, grief tore me apart, but there came a time when losing Lloydy gave me a new perspective. It shook me from the ‘hold’ that everyday life had over me and made me stand in front of a mirror and recognise there were changes that needed to be made.

To facilitate those changes I started to look after my physical health, seeking out challenges, challenges that would give me focus and help me to do something positive. In addition over time the more I worked and achieved the better my mental health became. Sure losing Lloydy will always leave a hole that can never be fully filled, however it has been repaired with the sense of achievement in the tribute I’ve paid to him since.

It’s given me back to me, it’s meant I’m a better man for my family, it means I’m a better man for Lloydy and in addition for everyone else that I come in to contact with. It’s been a long road but ultimately a very rewarding one, I created and completed The 100 Peaks Challenge and off the back of that have begun to realise a legacy project, Be A Black Sheep which I’m hoping in time will empower people to realise that comfort zones are nothing more than a mental obstacle to be pushed asunder.

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The simple remit with the ‘Be A Black Sheep’ project is to Help Other People Excel (HOPE) and give those involved a sense of Personal Responsibility In Delivering Excellence (PRIDE).

However, one of the main focuses of the project idea was to try and reach young adults that possibly don’t have access to mentors and a life outside of their perceived given circumstances. Over the last few weeks, that idea has become a distinct possibility, and inspired by what a few of my fellow #GetOutside Champs led by Dwayne Fields did with ‘Street to Peak’, I’m hopeful that a partnership with Youth Action in Essex will kick off later in the year and be the start of that ideology I had.

This year I’m also determined to be a little more prolific with my blog writing for the Ordnance Survey (in addition to my own) and will kick things off in May with a post about Workplace Health. I work in the Engineering industry and I will aim to begin ‘Building a Change.’ June will be followed with a Summer Activity Challenge, this one will cover the Black Sheep Marathon which is a tribute event for my Little Brother, if you know anything about Edale, you’ll understand why it’s going to be titled ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ I will then finish things off in August as we begin to prepare for National GetOutside Day on Sunday 29th September. I will be hosting a series of ‘One for Fun’ events, with the aim of encouraging people to embrace the outdoors and realise how easy and accessible it is to make a small change to improve our all round health.

So after a couple of days in the company of my fellow Champs, I am able to convince myself that YES I AM A CHAMPION. The beauty of this incredible group it that we are all normal people, even those that are to some of us, superheroes. We all have one thing in common, one aim and that is to try and inspire people to embrace the outdoors and discover life outside of the daily grind. The reality of which is nothing more than putting some shoes on, opening the door and taking that step out.

Time for a #KiloRomeo

Time for a #KiloRomeo

I’m writing this a few days after also returning from Tokyo, after running my 5th of the Abbott World Marathon Majors and although there was no snow involved, walking boots or ice axes, this is my version ‘currently’ of being outside, of exploring what I’m capable of. And whilst I’m not asking you to run a marathon or climb Everest, I am asking you to take stock and ask yourself, could I make myself feel better, and if the answer is yes, look out your window and you might find what you’re looking for.

To finish, firstly I want to say a massive thank you to the Ordnance Survey for continuing to believe in me, for putting on such a fantastic event, creating this incredible campaign in the first place and then for bringing such an incredible group of people together, that is such an honour and a privilege to be a part of, and to not forget, inspiring.

Secondly to Craghoppers, Merrell, Stance and Water-to-go for the kit and goodies and lastly, if you’re reading this whilst on the bog, get off and get outside!

Together we have and can continue to make a massive difference and get more people outside, more often!

Ooo and and one last thing, Team Blue Rule! We are the Orange Ninjas! Who knew combat archery could be so much fun in the p*ssing rain and slop!