Friday, 27 February 2009

Lapland provides inspiration for my Triathlon bid

EIGHT weeks of training have almost come to an end. The body has hurt, ached and needed a good soak or two in the bath along the way.

So I take a look at the calendar and, oh no, the London Triathlon is still five months away. At least another 20 weeks of this punishing regime to go. And it will only get more intense.


But whenever that feeling arrives, that one where you might just skip a session, might not put in the required effort, I stop to think why I am doing it.
Not just as a personal goal for myself of swimming 1.5k, cycling 40k and then running 10k around the capital.

But for the Nottingham-based charity When You Wish Upon A Star, one that helps realise the dreams of sick and terminally ill children.
Their main trip each year is to Lapland to meet Santa Claus.
And I was privileged enough to be invited along before Christmas in 2002 to report on their adventure.

Now, I was as excited as the kids at the time. Lapland, the home of Father Christmas himself.
A near four-hour flight there to Finland, the same back and all in one action-packed day. I was shattered by the end of it, never mind the kids.

But to be among those poorly children and see the zest for life they had and the smiles on their faces throughout the day will never leave me.

Some had lost their hair as a result of chemotherapy and I remember helping one mother carry the oxygen tank off the bus into the forest for her child who was no older than five or six.

Husky rides in the forest, sledging in the candlelit woods, Santa Claus and his real reindeer walking down to meet the kids (see right).

It was magical for them and when we landed back at East Midlands, almost 24 hours later, the kids were tired.
But despite serious illnesses, they were still beaming at what they saw as the trip of a lifetime.

The sad reality is for some of those kids and ones that will benefit from the charity in the future, it is a lifetime cruelly cut short.

But When You Wish Upon A Star ensure they make dreams come true and I have seen proof of that first hand.

So the next time I hit the pain barrier, feel sorry for myself when the training gets tough, I will think back to that trip.
I will remember why I am doing it and how privileged I am.

Suddenly, you realise training for and completing a triathlon is a drop in the ocean compared to what those children and their families are going through.
To see full story behind Stevie taking up the Triathlon challenge, click here
To sponsor Stevie visit www.justgiving.com/stevieroden
American-based sports giant Under Armour have backed Stevie in his quest to complete the London Triathlon and raise cash for When You Wish Upon A Star by agreeing to become his official sponsor.They have provided him with a whole range of their latest hi-tech training gear to help in all weathers, and a new tri-suit for the race itself. For more information visit http://www.underarmour.com/

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