A little under a year ago, I decided to do something to help push Squash towards Olympic inclusion; the question was what and when. The ‘when’ was easy, as it needed to be just before the final presentation to the IOC Commission at the end of May 2013. The ‘what’ was tougher, as I wanted something that would go beyond the squash media to really raise the profile of the Bid.
One option was completing some sort of ultra event, such as the Comrades Marathon (56 miles!) in South Africa, wearing the Back the Bid logo to gain publicity. This got me thinking about marathons and how Sir Ranulph Fiennes had completed 7 Marathons in 7 Days on 7 Continents. If that was possible, then surely it would be feasible to play 7 squash matches on the same basis. The initial plan was that I would travel to each destination and play a local player. However, over the course of a couple of drinks, I managed to convince my best friend & former World no.1 Peter Nicol to join me on this epic journey!
We then chatted about the concept and came up with the 7 Continent Challenge. We were delighted to gain the backing of the Xodus Group, who are passionate about sport and see the benefits of being associated with squash and a global challenge such as this. Their involvement took the pressure off covering the costs and instead we can focus on raising funds for the two official causes, Natasha’s Steps and LV=SOS Kit Aid, with all proceeds going to them. So please visit www.7ContinentChallenge.com and support both!
The logistics of getting from stage to stage took a little while to work out and required looking at take-off and landing times in each destination. In fact, one of the biggest challenges was getting to the Falkland Islands for the start given that there is only one commercial flight in and out each week, and it is only on the ground for 2 hours! So we will get to the Falkland Islands on the RAF flight from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. The 22 hour journey via the Ascension Islands should be a nice warm up!!
Day 1: 13th April – Falkland Islands - Antarctica
Day 2: 14th April – Santiago, Chile - South America
Day 3: 16th April* – Sydney, Australia - Australia
Day 4: 17th April – Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia - Asia
Day 5: 18th April – Cairo, Egypt - Africa
Day 6: 19th April – London, UK - Europe
Day 7: 20th April – New York - North America
*lose a day due to international date line.
Probably the most challenging connection will be off the back of the 19 hour flight to Sydney we will have just 12 hours on the ground in Australia before catching the 21.40 flight to Kuala Lumpar. At least accommodation wasn’t too much of an issue as of the 6 nights in the 7 day challenge half will be spent on planes!
Having worked out the route, it was then important to connect with the right people in each destination, which was a mixture of personal contacts and local federations. The challenge here has been dealing with people several different time-zones but everyone has been very supportive and helpful around the globe! They will all be very different but that is the beauty of squash and hopefully this will demonstrate what a truly global sport it is.
The Xodus 7 Continent Challenge will be 7 best of 5 games matches between myself & Peter Nicol, and we hope to have many other squash activities going on around them. It’s difficult to train for this type of thing as the challenge is actually all the combined parts and it’s impossible to know the impact that jet-lag and all the hours on planes will have, so we will be getting in shape just to be able to play 7 matches in 7 days which is no simple task!
Official Website: www.7ContinentChallenge.com please back the bid & support the charities!