Guest Blog post by former Trustee and Company Secretary, Marlyn Minto.
Marlyn Treks the Great Wall
“You are completely bonkers” seemed to be the general consensus amongst the wonderful friends who sponsored me when I announced I was going to join the It’s Good 2 Give trek on the Great Wall of China. A year later, standing at the foot of a thousand plus step climb just to get on to the wall, I was tempted to concede they were probably correct.
In my final year as a trustee of the charity I had wanted to undertake a challenge which would test me personally and raise funds towards the Retreat, the building of which was underway. Enthused by the description of the trek by Lisa from Ultimate Challenges at the introductory talk arranged by Lynne, I was the first to sign up.
“You had better get fit” was the cryptic response from partner Ken who promptly appointed himself my personal trainer. The following day, exactly 12 months before setting off found me running up and down our 14 house stairs 8 times at 7am. Too breathless to drink my recuperative cup of tea I pondered the wisdom of my decision. However I gradually increased the stairs adding in cardio tennis, cycling and hill walking. My regime was briefly interrupted by the removal of my gall bladder but my fitness level when I arrived at Glasgow airport for the flight to Beijing was considerably improved. I still felt anxious however about my ability especially as I was, by far, the most senior in the group.
And it proved really difficult – up to 7 hours a day for five days of steep ascents on uneven and crumbling steps, clambering through watchtowers, scrambling through the bush when we left the wall to avoid military zones, crossing narrow ledges, descending at such an angle you had to lean back at 45 degrees, steps, steps, steps and more steps. The scenery was magnificent – for the most part there was not another human in sight and the wall undulated towards the horizon punctuated by watchtowers.
The camaraderie was similarly magnificent everyone looking out for the others, supporting, encouraging and praising. And when we felt it was all too much, the video of young cancer patient Kira, relating how she faced a much greater challenge, moved us to tears, humbled us and renewed our determination to complete the trek. We all did so, including, rather to my astonishment, me. The sense of achievement is enormous; in particular as Lynne tells me the 16 trekkers have raised close to £100000. I am so proud to have contributed to that.
On the Wall there were various discussions as to whether we would undertake future treks. I was quite firm that this was my first and last physical challenge. I hear a rumour however of a trek in Bhutan in 2018 so watch this space. Bonkers indeed!
Footnote by me (Lynne)
I met Marlyn today for a chat and found out she is super keen on our trek in Bhutan. Marlyn is one of the most travelled people I know but hasn’t been to Bhutan yet and it is on her list of must visit places. I am delighted to be able to give her the chance to visit and raise funds for a charity she loves to bits! We have an information evening on 22 February at the Virgin Lounge, St Andrew Square Edinburgh from 6-8pm – if anyone else wants to find out more about the trek please do get in touch.
If you would like to see some of the photos from the GWChina Trek click here and you can see our Flickr album.