When Martin first told me what he was doing, I thought he had gone mad. To look at him, he is far from superhuman, but consultant Rheumatologist Dr Martin Lee is about to embark on a fundraising challenge of heroic proportions.
Few of us ever run a Marathon. Fewer of us would dare attempt one in a kayak. Come April 1st 2012, Martin will be paddling 26 miles a day – for 100 days! Circumnavigating the UK coast, covering a total distance of 2,600 miles, he is about to attempt something no one has done before. If successful, he will be the first person to kayak around Great Britain without a support crew. It’s brave, some might say foolish, and it’s all being done in the name of charity.
With a target of £100,000 ($150,000), his efforts will help provide for better care for people with rheumatoid arthritis – a cause close to his heart. I met up with Martin to find out more about his motivations and fears…
Q: Martin, why on earth are you doing this?
When I was growing up I spent a lot of time with my Auntie Maureen who has severe rheumatoid arthritis. She inspired me to become a Rheumatologist. The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society does a fantastic job helping people with rheumatoid arthritis and so I wanted to do something to raise money for them. I started sea kayaking when I was at school and decided that taking on the huge challenge of a solo circumnavigation in a kayak would be a good way to raise money for them.
Q. Sounds a tough way to fundraise. Just how difficult will it be?
Very tough! I will need to be paddling for at least 9 hours a day before landing on a beach, getting plenty of calories on board (about 6,000kcal per day), planning the next day paddling and getting adequate sleep.
I will be taking a sleeping bag, a bivy bag, a change of clothes, some safety equipment and food and water stores. I do not have a support boat or crew but will be meeting with friends as I go round to resupply. People have circumnavigated the UK in a kayak before – but I don’t know of anyone who has done it completely solo, without a support boat or car.
Yes. Dangers include huge tidal races and big seas, unpredictable weather, shipping lanes, strong currents, fatigue and exhaustion. I am putting my life at risk but am taking steps to minimise risks. On average, I expect to be paddling about 9 hours non-stop a day but some days this may be up to 20 hours.
I intend to break this down into 100 marathons in 100 days of paddling starting on 1st April 2012 from The Ahoy Centre in Greenwich.
Q. You must need shoulders the size of an ox! How are you preparing?
Last year I was running a half marathon most weekends as well as training in the gym five days a week and paddling on the sea as much as possible. Currently I am working a fulltime job and training for about two and a half hours a day and paddling at weekends. I will have to be extremely fit but I hope that a lot of this fitness will build up as I paddle around the UK.
I will need to be mentally and emotionally tough and will break the challenge down into smaller sections and meet up with friendly faces whenever possible.
Although Martin is paddling alone – he has a team helping him meet his £100,000 target. He’s supported by a variety of organisations and will be blogging, tweeting and posting on Facebook during his stops. He will carrying a SPOT tracker which will update his location every 5 minutes – so you can chart his progress online at is location will be updated every 5 minutes by a SPOT tracker onboard his kayak – and you can follow his progress realtime through the website: www.martinkayaking.co.uk (note: website will not be viewable on Apple devices)
Please support Martin by publicising the challenge via Facebook and Twitter (click the Share buttons below). You can print out challenge posters from his website and contacting local media. You can also donate by clicking here.
You can view Martin’s full itinerary here (pdf)