Some journeys mark the triumph of Human spirit in its absolute form! Our post on Delhi to London Transcontinental feat about three women travelers driving across 27 countries was one such journey. When we chatted up with Henry and Sam from Suffolk, England, we realised it was going to be one hell of a journey that would push them to their limits physically as well as mentally. “6500 miles, 13 million steps, a quarter of the way around the world” is a huge undertaking! What makes this challenge even more extraordinary is that it comes inspired by a noble cause- spreading awareness about Brain cancer and raising fund for the same. Find out more about this inspiring initiative and the family tragedy that made Henry Dunham join hands with his friend Sam Crimp in an exclusive interview with Bohotraveller.
1. Tell us a little about yourselves and the cause you are so passionate about.
We are Henry Dunham, 28, and Sam Crimp, 22. We were both born and raised in Suffolk, England. We have known each other for 4 years or so, ever since we started working together at a local hotel. Soon after meeting, Sam left to Australia to travel around for a year. Whilst there he hitch hiked the length of the Eastern coast, living out of his rucksack and camping as and when he could. This, his first proper solo traveling experience, sparked a love of seeing the world, a passion which he tries to pursue whenever possible. Henry has also spent a year travelling around Australia, on top of that he has spent 3 months in LA; hiked in the Norwegian mountains; trekked to Mt Everest reaching a height of 6000m and last summer both he and Sam had three months living out of a car whilst driving around Europe.
2. Your next feat is unique and tremendously challenging….a walk from London to Kathmandu!! What is the inspiration behind it?
The cause we are undergoing this expedition for is one very close to Henry. In July 2015 his older sister Annie was diagnosed with a terminal astrocytoma, a form of brain tumour. The tumour sat on Annie’s brain stem, as such it was inoperable and, by the time it was diagnosed, aggressive. On receiving this news Annie wanted to do what she could for others in her situation, so her family set up Annie’s Challenge - a charity designed to fund research into brain tumours and to provide financial support to those organisations which helped her and countless others towards the end of their lives. The money we raise from our challenge will be going directly to this charity.
3.Please take us through this challenge in detail.
The challenge we are proposing is to walk 6,500 miles from the UK to Kathmandu. Having seen the effects a brain tumour can have on someone, there is no doubt in our minds just how important it is to help raise money to fight it. Due to location of the tumour, as it sits on the bodies control centre, it can systematically shut down everything that makes someone human. Annie lost her ability to walk, talk, move and most importantly to interact with her children, Noah and Lily. Sadly though, brain tumours rarely feature in conversations about cancer. Where cancers such as lung, bowel and breast get a lot of media coverage, cancers of the brain are simply overlooked. This is the case despite it being on a rise and the biggest killer of all cancers under the age of 40; it kills 5000 people in the UK alone every year. The profile we hope to provide from this challenge will help to swing the balance towards increased discussions of the topic.
4. Are there any sponsors funding this trip or is it just you guys?
We received a small donation from a local company, EBS Systems, but 99% of the trip is coming out of our own pockets. We are working 5 jobs between the two of us and arranging money raising events to help fund the trip. It was very important to us that no donations to the charity get used to support this venture. We are always on the lookout for companies who want to support us as we will be very close to the wire to making it on the money we have raised!
5. Touch upon a little about the charity.
The charity, Annie’s Challenge, as we explained earlier, is a charity run by Henry’s family. The organisation is still in the nascent stage but at the current moment it supports Marie Curie - a trust to provide in home nursing to the terminally ill and St Elizabeth’s Hospice. The charity is looking for a research programme to get on board with.
For more information on the charity please look at - www.annieschallenge.org
6. We know that detailed itinerary would be difficult….but can you please roughly touch upon it?
The itinerary is as you say, difficult to be too specific! But if truth be told we would rather not be too prescriptive, an element of ‘winging it’ allows room to take on board problems and deal with them. As it stands we expect to take 3 months to walk across Europe, almost a straight line from Rotterdam to Istanbul. We will take in Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest among other cities. After Istanbul we will continue through Turkey, keeping north and as far away from the Syrian and Iraq boarder and into Iran. Turkey is a big country and will probably take us 2 months to cross. This is where the biggest element of the unknown is, as at the moment we still don’t know for how long we will be able to remain in Iran, if at all!
We are pursuing the options. It might take us anywhere between 7 days and 45 days, depending on the length of visa we will be granted and the amount of freedom we have to do the trip. Assuming though that we are allowed to walk the length of it we will end up on the Southern Coast where we will take a boat to Dubai. From there we will get a flight to the base of India. An almost direct line up the Eastern side to Nepal will take around 3 months.
7. Why London to Kathmandu?
This conversation occurred over a coffee in our local bakery. We were discussing how we could help raise money for the charity, both of us wanted to do our bit. We are naturally keen gym goers and so something physical seemed most appropriate. But what could we do? We wanted it to be big, something daring and most importantly something that was going to capture people’s imagination. More the people get interested, more money we will be able to raise for the charity and its cause. So we started to think about the most iconic places in the world and obviously at the top of the list is Kathmandu. It has an almost fantastical presence about it. It sits at the base of the Himalayas, surrounded by the foothills. This sprawling city is beautiful and mystical! Ones we had settled on Kathmandu, we started to look at the stats: 6,500 miles, 13 million steps, a quarter of the way around the world. It ticked all the boxes!
8. Have you done something similar in the past?
In a word; no! As we mentioned earlier, we have both done a fair amount of traveling in the past but nothing quite like this.
9. What preparations have you guys done? Such a challenge needs you to be in great shape physically along with a good and abundant travel gear.
Physically, we’re good to go! We both go to the gym frequently and are anaerobically and aerobically sound. Where we are untested is mentally. The ability to walk 20 miles, stop, set up camp, cook food on a tiny gas stove, sleep in a tent, wake up at the crack of dawn and repeat, every day for 10 months is where the struggle will set in. Being able to pick yourself up when you are down or injured. These are all things we will learn about ourselves along the way.
As to the gear, it’s actually fairly straight forward! Bar the obvious equipment we hope to do as much social media as is possible, as such we will be taking a camera and GoPro with which to record ourselves and the places we are passing through. But actually, it works a lot better for us to pick up clothes etc as and when we need them. It will mean we blend in with the locals a lot better which is better for our safety and it will have the added bonus of us not needing to carry all that much equipment.
10. What about the research about the places you are going to touch?
We are conducting as much research as is possible because knowledge is the key here. Being able to blend in as best we can, will be important to our safety and the success of the trip. The internet is obviously a fantastic source of information and 90% of what we do is through that. However, there is nothing quite like meeting someone face to face to discuss the places we are going. As such, we have been working with Drum Cussac, a risk management firm who have provided us with some very useful hints and tips. We are also due to meet with Rory Stewart, a Member of Parliament in the UK, who in 2002 walked 6000 miles in the ‘Stans. We are always keen to talk to anyone who might be able to offer us advice!
11.Any special tips and advises you guys have been given?
A few spring to mind. Firstly, in regards to training, nothing beats just getting on and doing it! You can spend hours in the gym to prepare but nothing will actually prepare your body for what we are about to do. Secondly, there will be problems. For example, we are likely to be mugged, one or both of us will injure ourselves and we will have to go days without food. These things will happen, be prepared for it, expect it and then hopefully when it does occur you are better equipped to deal with it. Thirdly, and most importantly, though- it is a huge challenge and there will be dark days, enjoy it. This is a year of our lives we are committing to this adventure, a year of not having any fun is a year wasted no matter what the cause. So the best advice would be to have fun.
Follow their exciting Journey with us as they embark on this adventure on May’2016. Show them your support by meeting up with them as they pass through the pastures and roads near your home! Here is a small video of Sam and Henry talking about their journey.