Tuesday, 31 January 2012

First Donations

Well, I thought it was about time I got the just-giving page up and running, so I did today and without even sending out the information I got two donations for £65 (or $100). Many thanks to the Burns and Wilsons from across the Atlantic for getting the ball rolling.

Both have committed $1 per hole completed, and $200 if I complete all 10 rounds. Great idea, perfect motivation and greatly appreciated.

For anyone looking for the donation page, click here.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

First Practice Round

With 5 months left until the 1-Day, 10-Round Challenge, I thought it might be wise to have a practice round to gauge a) how fast I can play a round and b) how far, and how much of climb, a single round is. So my alarm got me up at 7am on Saturday and I packed my pencil bag and headed to the course.

It was -1'C (30' F) when I arrived at the course and the landscape was glistening with the morning frost. Luckily I was wrapped up with long-johns, under-armour and enough material to kit out a 7-aside rugby team. I headed to the first tee, to discover that I was not the first group off. In fact, I was 4th! I under-estimated the bravery of the older members, who were equally wrapped up and ready to battle the cold. Being the 4th group off could be a problem in terms of trying to play as fast possible, so I decided to walk out onto the course and start mid-way round.

This was the view from the 2nd tee, with some brave older members setting out for the day
I arrived at the 8th tee about 8.30am, took a couple of practice swings then headed off. Using the Runkeeper app on my phone, I am able to track distances, pace, elevation and map my activity. So I clicked start on the app, and sent a solid drive down the 8th hole. 

My tactics were to keep a brisk walk going down each hole, and with only 6 clubs in my bag, select the club for my next shot well in advance, so I could just drop my bag, hit and keep going. The tactic was working well early and the only time-delaying issue seemed to be trying to get tees into the ground due to the frost. After the first hole, I also decided that dropping my bag next to the green was again wasting time that I may need to play 10 rounds in sunlight on June 27th. So I decided to keep my bag on whilst I putt, this turned out to probably be the best time-saving tactic on the day.

The only company I had for most of the round was the local deer
The Runkeeper app updated me each mile as to how my pace was going and I was keeping to a 16/17-min mile pace over the first couple of miles. With winter greens in affect, I was able to play the course slightly shorter than normal and it was possibly playing slightly easier. 

This photo gives you a good idea of the temperature with the frost on the ground. This is how close my approach finished on the par-5 15th hole. Would have been nice to have my first albatross!
I finished the 18th hole (my 11th hole) after 48 minutes and with a poorly played/rushed second shot, I bogeyed to sit at 1-over par after 11. Much played than I expect seen as my pre-shot routine involved throwing my bag to ground, taking a deep breath and hitting in the general direction I was headed.

I headed back to the 1st hole, where a couple of gents let me play in front of them (probably because of the pace with which I walked up to them from the 18th green). I holed a 40 foot putt on the 1st and headed down the second thinking "holing putts is a great way to save time, I should try that more!"

I played the next 6 holes, and finished my practice round on the 7th green. 75 minutes 25 seconds and 74 shots. Both numbers were a lot lower than anticipated, but encouraging nonetheless.

This is the summary of the round via the Runkeeper iPhone app.

Interestingly, the round measured 4.5 miles. Although that is slightly skewed due to the winter greens (which tend to be short of the normal greens). Also, the elevation climb was 483 feet, which means on the day in June, I will be climbing 4,830 feet. That is higher than Ben Nevis?!

Overall, a good start to the challenge though and certainly gave me confidence. On the day I will have to play 10 rounds in approximately 18 hours of sunlight. So I will need to be playing each round in approximately 1.75 hours (including any stops, meals etc). Still going to be a massive challenge, but today was a good practice-run.

Saying that, I am not sure I fancy playing 9 more rounds today...?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Charity Chosen!

I wanted to choose a charity that met the following criteria: local, worthy and one that everyone can relate to. The day itself is going to be a huge challenge for me, and my goal was to choose a cause worthy of the support of everyone that will be supporting me.

I had come across the Make-A-Wish foundation during my time in Florida, where several kids wishes came true by visiting Disneyland. So when I sat down to consider charities for this challenge, it didn't take long to think of them.

Make-A-Wish Foundation UK is a charity with a single purpose – granting magical wishes to children and young people aged 3-17 fighting life-threatening conditions.

Make-A-Wish has granted more than 7,300 magical wishes over 25 years. Over 20,000 children in the UK are living with a life-threatening condition, a figure validated by research commissioned by Make-A-Wish. At a human level, few things can be more important, or more deserving, than giving a seriously ill child the chance to have their wish come true, with all the hope, expectation and happiness that brings.

This year alone 1,400 children will turn to us to have their special wish granted. And we want to grant a wish to every one of these.

For many families the Make-A-Wish memory can be the last happy memory they have of their child having fun in a magical world, surrounded by family and friends – rather than memories of days and weeks of painful treatments and hospitalisation. The memory of the wish may be of their child laughing and enjoying being a princess or zoo keeper for the day or meeting a favourite celebrity. In years to come, the family can look back and remember that special time.

Make-A-Wish is expert in wishgranting; it is all that they do, each and every day. At present they are granting around 75 wishes a month and their ambition is to grant 85 wishes every month by the end of 2012. To do this, they need to raise at least £6.8 million this year.

Make-A-Wish Foundation UK was launched in June 1986 and for the first six years we operated from offices above a shop in Camberley, Surrey. We are still in Camberley today. Four wishes were granted in the first year, 13 in the second and by the end of the third year, 100 wishes had been granted.

Here is some stories of milestone wishes granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation:

The very first wish was for Anthony from Liverpool who, with his family, went to meet the Disney characters in Disney World, Florida.

The 100th wish in 1989 was also the first wish to be granted in Scotland. 16 year old Clark from Balerno wished to go on a US aircraft carrier and see an F14 jet. This very exciting wish took place in the Mediterranean only two weeks before Heads of State joined the ship for a summit meeting.

In November 1989 the first wish in Wales was granted. 14 year old Louise from Rhyl went with her family to experience all the sights and thrills of Disney World, Florida.

Also that month, the first wish in Northern Ireland was granted. 16 year old Gary from Benburb wished to visit his uncle who worked at Disneyland, California. Very sadly, Gary died a short while after his wish.

1,000th Wish – Jessica, aged 10 and from Grimsby, had her wish, to meet the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, granted at a very special occasion – the 10th anniversary party of Make-A-Wish Foundation® UK. The huge Beast, as tall as the ceiling, entered the room carrying a red rose. He approached Jessica, who was dressed in her pretty yellow Beauty dress, and invited her onto the dance floor. There wasn't a dry eye in the room!

5,000th Wish – 10 year old Ciara from Wigan, living with a Brain Tumour, had her wish granted in August 2008 when she was a model for the day in London.

7,000th wish – 16 year old Marcus from Goole, a keen physiscs student, lives with a Brain Tumour. He had an unusual wish – he wanted to visit CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research) in Geneva. Marcus was able to meet some very distinguished physicists during a vist that was arranged in August 2011 with the help of colleagues from Make-A-Wish Switzerland.