Run Forrest! Run!

© Caroline Janssens 2012

Where there is a will, there is a way.  Always.

Last September, I successfully climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.  It is high, very high (5895m).  It was hard, very hard.  I trained for it, not too much, not too little, just enough for my feet, legs and body never to hurt on the way up.  What was hard was the altitude, the headaches, the walking hours, the sleepless nights and for that, there is no training, you just have to go with it.  I had always wanted to climb that mountain.  I had some experience with trekking and camping at high altitude which I built very gradually (skiing in the Alps, hiking in Austria, hiking Los Picos de Europa in Spain, trekking along the Inca trail in Peru, climbing Mount Toubkal in Morocco, etc.).  On each of these occasions my body responded well to high altitude.  Mount Kilimanjaro was therefore simply the obvious next step in altitude and level of challenge.  I was confident I could do it.  I had purposely chosen that challenge as a pretext to raise money for a charity that is close to my heart and that surely helped building the mental strength I needed to get to the top.  I enjoyed every single minute of the entire trek, even the eight hours of the summit night.  I felt a level of focus and contentment that I had never felt before.  I can’t express what I felt up there but that gave me the wings to get to the top. 

And then there was Sian, my training and trekking buddy.  She had never been to Africa and she had never set a foot on a mountain.  She had simply read an advertising about the challenge in a paper, gave little thoughts about it and signed up for it.  She trained as hard as I did (and probably even harder) but she did not make it to the top.  She got altitude sickness from day 2 and never managed to recover.  It was heart-breaking to see my training buddy not being able to make it.  There was nothing I could do to make her feel better and, selfishly, I was so focus on my own challenge.  She was immensely gutted but failing the ascent did not stop her.  To the contrary.  When she got back to the UK she pulled herself together and in the space of 6 months she run a couple of half marathons, she successfully climbed Mount Toubkal (4167m), and completed her very first full marathon!!!  I was blown away.  I am not a quitter myself, but it is great to see how she regained confidence and focus.  With Midula, another training buddy who climbed the Kili pretty much at the same time as we did, they set up a motivational fitness blog ( ) where they share their experience as newly runner, climbers and fitness divas!  Check it out, it is entertaining.

Where there is a will, there is a way.  Always.  But rather than being impulsive I like to do things gradually, I like to listen to my body, know where I stand and it works for me.  So my next step in the climbing venture is to spend 6 weeks in the Himalayas next September/October!  Travel buddies are welcome; email me if you’re interested.

Next week, I’ll tell you about Playtime, a Belgian band I discovered recently.  Bye for now.