Our friends at Movember did an amazing thing this spring.
Eleven individuals formed the inaugural Movember Adventure Series Team to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro and raise awareness and funds for men's health.
The ten men and one woman were selected from across the country for this adventure because of their year-round dedication to the Movember cause—men’s health, focusing on mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Their 45-mile trek to the tallest peak in Africa brought in over $200K to support Movember's mission.
When we heard Movember was planning an adventure that involved pushing personal limits, climbing mountains and supporting men's health, we knew we had to be a part of it. Those with this adventurous and altruistic spirit are exactly our kind of Oarsmen.
Needless to say, climbing to 19,341 feet above sea level is no joke. In the words of team member, Keith: "It was truly a life-changing experience, and I had my doubts about getting to the top, but we all made it, and we’re all better for it."
Trekking for Men's Health
What's it like to join 10 strangers on an incredibly difficult mental and physical journey to the top of the tallest peak in Africa? We had the opportunity to ask the team about their experience and some of the most meaningful moments and learnings they had along this journey.
What did you do to mentally and physically prepare for the trek?
Dennis: "A lot of hikes, walks and runs helped get me physically ready. I did one hike specifically to prepare for summit night, we left at midnight with our head lamps and finished at 4pm (a 16 hour day)! This was very useful, as it gave me confidence both physically and mentally that I could complete Kilimanjaro. To prepare mentally, I did meditation and breathing exercises. I also watched a lot of videos of other people’s experiences which helped me get mentally prepared for the challenge."
Travis: "I took the training program to heart, and tried to exceed elevation targets on each hike so my legs would be ready for summit day. My last two hikes had more vertical combined than our summit run, so my legs felt awesome on the way to the top of Africa."
What was it like to do the actual trek?
Keith: "The team bonded really well, especially given our common bond of Movember and men’s health, but having people experience hiking throughout the day and camping together at night and eating 3-4 meals together for a week really brings you closer."
"The hikes took place through some truly breathtaking places from rainforest to moorland to alpine desert. Our Tanzanian guides and porters were some of the most selfless people I have ever met and truly wanted us to succeed in our quest to get to the top."
What was a particularly challenging moment during the trek and how did you overcome and persevere?
Travis: "I've been at and around 11k' to 12k' before without issues, but our first day at 13k' got me. I just got in my head that I had worked hard to be there and to press on. I didn't take the macho approach and avoid taking altitude medication, which ended up being the right call as I had no more issues after that. That was the one thing I couldn't train for, the affects of altitude - she was the equalizer for all of us."
Keith: "Summit night was the most difficult part, and one of the most difficult things I have ever done. We started our ascent to the top at midnight (from what they told us, if we started in daylight, we would have turned back) after only a few hours of sleep (sleep being a loose term for most people)."
"From there we climbed 4,000 feet over seven and a half hours to the top. The altitude at that point really got people. Headaches, pressure, difficulty breathing (every step was like we were running), exhaustion – it felt almost too much."
But once we got near the top and saw the sunrise from the top of Africa, we knew we could finish, and all of us made it to the final summit, Uhuru peak.
Dennis: "By far the toughest part for me was summit day, specifically the post lunch hike to camp which was the last 4 hours of a 16 hour day. Remembering why I was on this journey and who I was doing this for helped keep me going."
O + A Makes the Trek, Too
We sent along our most packable items to help the team stay protected from the sun and (relatively) clean without many opportunities for showering. We got some pretty awesome mustachioed photos in return.
The Go Stick Clear Sunscreen was a hit...
As was the Solid Charcoal Face Wash! We might have heard it was used to clean entire bodies...
The Cooling + Cleansing Wipes did their job.
And finally, our small but mighty SPF Lip Balm helped protect the skin between the handlebars ;)
Congrats to the entire Movember Adventure Series Team on this impressive accomplishment and showing what it means to truly #taketotheoars!
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