>Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone

>In an effort to get some training in for Peru, I joined two fellow trekkers for a walk in the Chilterns, an area of “outstanding natural beauty”. It was rated as seven out of 10 in difficulty, about 20km and 5 hours of walking. No problem, I thought.

First the good news: I was not noticeably less fit than either of my counterparts. In parts after steep uphill climbs where I’d be feeling a little warm and out of breath, they seemed to mirror my own reactions — and most importantly, it didn’t take me long to recover. Heart and lungs seem to be in excellent working order.

Continuing the good news theme, my hiking boots are incredibly comfortable and there was not even a hint of a blister or rubbing all day. An excellent buy there, and I think we can safely say they are broken in.

The bad news is I am in pain. Somewhere along the way the steep downhill descents must have proved too much for my knees — and if you hadn’t guessed by the fact I am updating in the middle of the day, I am home from work sick today as I can barely stand up. Completing the walk yesterday was very difficult and painful as my knee became stiffer and more unyielding. The doctor has told me today I have strained the ligaments, and I need to rest it. I can also put an ice pack on it twice a day and take anti-inflammatory drugs three times a day. It’s a good job I have a stash of the latter in the cupboard.

My research on the internet tells me this kind of thing is quite common, and unsurprisingly associated with steep downhill descents. I was probably going too quickly. For Peru, if not before, I will need walking poles and a knee support — and I think a small supply of medication in my luggage.

It’s frustrating, I want to be out walking and training in the gym, and right now I can’t do either. But I’ll crawl the Inca trail on my hands and knees if I have to.

>New year, more donations

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Updates have been on the ground lately, but you will all hopefully be pleased to hear how the fund-raising is going.

To date, the current total is standing at a huge £2,170 — a massive thank you goes out to all the readers of this blog who have donated online and/or sent me cheques! I really would not be able to do this without your help!

I am not there yet, though, and am still trying to find the remaining £1,200 of the minimum I need to raise — and see no reason to stop at the “minimum”. I know times are hard for all of us, but please if you are able to give anything at all, all donations are gratefully received.

There are plans in the pipeline for another Essex fund-raising event before my departure, so watch this space for more information there.

Otherwise, you will be pleased to know that I am training hard — usually hitting the gym 5 out of 7 days, and sometimes twice a day. I’m working on a range of things, from my core strength and balance, to strength training and cardiovascular workouts.

I have recently sent out letters to local hiking and camping shops in the hope they might be generous enough to help out with some of the equipment I need, although there have been no responses as of yet. Either way, I hope to be in possession of a pair of hiking boots next weekend as a birthday present, unless one of the stores stumps up a pair first.

More updates soon — as ever, please keep donating and keep inviting your friends to read — and thanks for all of your support!

>Moving into marketing — and more donations!

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It’s been too long since my last update, please forgive me loyal followers, supporters and sponsors!

Since my last update, I have got a new job — leaving behind the grey, drab world of purchasing I have become the new marketing guy for my company. What this means most importantly is I have almost complete control of my Peru trek publicity. The local “operating company” of my much larger company have formally agreed to sponsor me a very generous sum towards my final target. Putting my PR and journalistic skills to good use, I have produced press releases publicising the fact — from a local angle (company gives money to local man) and the more corporate angle, for the trade press.

There has been a warm response from two local paid-for newspapers in Essex, with one daily evening paper sending a photographer round to my house this evening to take pictures. The other paper is very keen to run the story but is asking me to provide the pictures. Of course, I should have thought of this in the first place before sending the releases out — they will get much more interest if they come with pictures. This will be remedied in the next day or two.

In other sponsorship news, my first fundraising event has been confirmed for the evening of October 22. A charity quiz night, hosted by a local DJ and renowned quiz master, is in the process of being booked — the idea is for there to be six people to a team, paying £5 each, with the hall holding about 60 people in total. I have begun soliciting local shops and businesses for raffle prizes, next I need to work out some kind of advertising.

The Facebook group has swelled in numbers since my last post, it is now up to nearly 60 members and is a great way to publicise the fundraising events I am planning. It is also an easy way of keeping supporters updated with the sponsorship progress.

Money donated (or promised via my paper sponsorship form) to date totals almost £500! The handy little graphic in the sidebar tells me this makes it up to 15%. In the last three days I have had three separate donations; the Lions Club of South Woodham Ferrers have generously donated £100, my uncle sent me a cheque for a further £50 and a good friend this evening has donated £15.

I aim to have hit the £500 by the end of this weekend — but let’s see if I can smash through that target!

As always, anyone wanting to find out more information about the Peru hiking challenge, or the work of Macmillan, please visit http://www.macmillan.org.uk/peru. And any kind souls who would like to help support my great Peru trek for Macmillan Cancer Support can do so on my JustGiving page.

>Things moving along very nicely

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Ten days on from the blog and my Justgiving page going live, and I am pleased to report things are going along very well indeed. To summarise, briefly:

The dedicated Facebook group is nearly up to 50 members, with friends, family and friends-of-friends all joining to wish me luck with my trek and with the cause. Now, how to convert “members” into “sponsors” :)

Speaking of sponsors, sponsorship is currently at £275! It is nearly an even split between online and offline donations, which is interesting to know. Give it time, and I will be producing piecharts for this info. And for anyone wondering, the current total is 8% of the required £3,300. What does this mean? We are nearly into double figures already! I expect to break through the £300 barrier in a matter of days.

Initial negotiations with my company regarding corporate sponsorship have been positive, so I am hopeful that I will have more good news to report there soon. I am also in negotiations regarding having a “dress down” day, with £1 to join in — and tomorrow I will be floating the idea of a Halowe’en theme and prize for the best dressed. Even if I have to provide the prize myself.

Contact has been established with my area’s fundraising rep for Macmillan, who will be dutifully putting me in touch with the local team. I expect promotional materials, collection boxes and information about how to go about public collections to follow in short order. Along with lashings of moral support.

Finally, initial reports from the gym show that my fitness is moving in the right direction since my last reassessment. My body fat is down to 20% (and hopefully falling), and we have now completely redesigned my fitness program to incorporate much more climbing, walking, and CV work. I might try wearing a freezer bag over my head next time I’m using the step machine, for that authentic Inca Trail experience.

Remember, if you would like to help contribute towards my challenge and support Macmillan Cancer Support, please visit my JustGiving page.