Yesterday was exhausting, but also exhilarating.
As part of a recent initiative by George Ferguson the Mayor of Bristol, one Sunday in every month sees a number of streets in Bristol city centre closed to traffic, to be enjoyed instead by pedestrians and cyclists. As well as it being fantastic to be able to walk freely on usually traffic-heavy streets, there are also a lot of great stalls, activities and initiatives to enjoy between 10am and 4pm. Last month Steve and I checked out Make Sundays Special, and spent a happy few hours wandering around the streets in the sun, eating ice cream, listening to music and talking to all sorts of people. This month we were down there running one of the events ourselves…
It has recently been confirmed that the Mayor will be supporting my Pacific Solo Row – in particular he will be a VIP presence at a couple of my events throughout the year! Make Sundays Special is one of his popular new initiatives – one that focuses on people, community and sustainability for a day, rather than allowing cars to dominate the city centre – and it was a privilege to be able to be a part of the third Sunday that this has run.
Armed with a fantastic new banner, donations boxes, bowls of sweets and two rowing machines, we headed down into the city centre early yesterday morning to set up. The aim of the day as to spread the word about the challenge and the charity, to raise some money, and to have fun – all of which we achieved. We set up two rowing machines, and set people the challenge of rowing 200 metres as fast as they could. There were some very close races, as friends and family battled it out against each other to be the fastest. There was even a set of twins who finished with only a second between them. It wasn’t only about the fit, strong and fast though – as it was such a short distance the 200m Pacific Challenge appealed to everyone, from three-year olds to grannies. Even the security guards couldn’t resist having a go!
We chose 200m both as an achievable distance for everyone, and also because it is about 1/20,000th of the distance that I will be rowing across the Pacific. As I watched everyone completing their row, I kept thinking ‘Well, I’ll only have to do that about 20,000 times… pulling a heavy boat laden with all my food and equipment…through storms and currents and hot sun…should be a piece of cake! ;)’
Winners of the various prizes and categories will be announced later on this week, with prizes ranging from VIP tickets to the launch party to a VVIP tour of the boat for the under-14s.
We’re already starting to think about the next one – what we’d do differently, how much easier it would be with a few more people to help out (food and toilet breaks would have been good), what prizes we’ll offer next time, etc.
Thank you to the University of Bristol Sports Centre for the loan of the rowing machines, and to everyone who came down to Baldwin Street to take part and to chat to us. It was great to meet so many enthusiastic and interested people!