Christian Havrehed: Half Way There!

Postive energy & humour powering him through 860km trek!

Two weeks ago Christian Havrehed began an amazing adventure to cross the Pyrenees Mountains (Swim-Run-Swim) to raise £10,000 to build APs next Lifeboat. Christian has just reached the half way mark of this exhausting 860km trek. Check out his facebook page for photos and great stories of the adventure so far…

Christian has generously funded this entire trip himself to make sure that 100% of the donations made come directly to the Lifeboat. AP salutes Christian for this fantastic and generous commitment to help AP with our vision of saving lives at sea. Please do give here to help Christian meet his £10,000 target.

Before Christian set off, AP went to meet him at Stansted Airport to find out more about his motivations, planning and concerns for this fantastic trek. As well giving some great advice for anyone else thinking of endurance challenges, testing some new kit for running long distances, Christian also gives an insight into why adventure is so important.

Where did your love for adventure come from?

I have always had a love for adventure… I enjoy reading books about explorers, Nansen, Scott and especially ones about sailing around the world. Chichester (first man to single-handedly sail around the world), Robin Knox-Johnston (Wrong Way Round) have influenced me. As I am named after two seamen (my Grandfather who was in the Danish Navy and my Uncle who was in the Merchant Navy) I have always been interested in nautical adventure and I have always wanted to sail around the world.

What did your family and friends think when you told them about your plans for this adventure?

My wife was very supportive. When I met her in Hong Kong I was about to row across the Atlantic Ocean, so she has always known that I have a love for adventure. I don’t think that my kids quite understand what I am up to – they just know I’ll be gone for a few weeks, but my eldest said that he thinks its ‘cool’ that I go off and do this kind of ‘stuff’, which is always nice to hear. My wider family and friends have all been really supportive too. My wife’s family are French and so I will see some of them at the beginning and end of this trip, which will be nice too.

As well as raising funds to build AP’s next Hahn, what else do you hope to achieve from this adventure?

I’m looking forward to a great personal adventure. I want to push my own limits and hopefully get so tired from the physical exertion that I wont have the energy to think about anything. I hope that this will be able to connect me to the cosmic energy through meditation – which is an awesome experience. It is blissful and great ideas come to you. I am chasing that feeling that I had when I was near the end of my last adventure (rowing across the Atlantic Ocean), where you get to a meditative state and feel at one with the universe.

In the last week, what has been your final preparation for Swim-Run-Swim?

I have been focusing on three things. The first is making sure that everything is in place for the updates on social media. Mattias, who is a recent marketing graduate, is volunteering to help me with my Facebook posts and social media whilst I am running has been generously given a space at the local media company so we have been working together on a plan for updates. The second is doing bits and bobs at home to make sure that my family are OK whilst I am away for 4/5 weeks. And the third is preparing my kit in detail. I have a really small bag – and so I need to be really efficient with the kit that I take. It’s 5kgs at the moment – a little heavier than I expected and so if the weather is good I hope to lose some winter running gear so that I can get it down to 3kgs.

What’s your best bit of Kit?

I have done a lot of work on the selection of my kit in order to keep my backpack under 5kgs. After speaking with various people, I am testing Merino Wool Socks, which apparently you can wear for weeks without washing and won’t smell and also LifeStraw by Vestergaard, which clean water of bugs and chemicals whilst you drink it. It means that I don’t have to carry water with me – but can drink from streams and wells on my way… I’ll let you know how well they performed at the end!

What is your biggest fear for Swim-Run-Swim?

My main worry is that I get an injury and I can’t complete the trip. I don’t want to let down my family and friends who have been so supportive or anyone who has kindly donated. I also don’t want to let myself down, so I will be pacing carefully, hopefully running 30k per day and I have some great trainers which are built for trekking in uneven terrain.

How have you planned for the unexpected?

The most unpredictable thing on this trip is the weather and I have brought winter running kit with me in case it is cold. Although Swim-Run-Swim is challenging, the good thing is that you are never more than 10-12 hours from the next village, so if something unexpected does happen, I will only be a short distance from assistance.

Running 20 marathons in 43 days is going to be physically and mentally challenging. You have been training hard for the physical strain, but how have you been preparing mentally?

As most people know, physical endurance is mainly a mental problem. Visualisation is really important. You have to visualise yourself on the course, getting to the Mediterranean Sea, swimming in the water. It helps prepare your mind, but also keeps you going when you are running. Its also useful to think in perspective – Scott and Nansen completed their amazing explorations – and what I am doing is nothing in comparison. I always think… dig deeper like the amazing explorers before me.

Fundraising has also been helpful in mentally preparing for the trip. If people have invested time and money in something you are doing, it makes you feel like it’s worthwhile. Everyone helping me is working on a voluntary basis. People always think hard about how they use their free time and so to convince people to work for this pro-bono is part of my process to prepare mentally. It obliges you, which is always good for your mental preparation.

Of course, positive energy and humour are also important for your mental preparation too!

What three things will you miss the most whilst you are away?

My wife and kids and salty licorice!

What advice would you give anyone thinking about doing this kind of extreme endurance adventure?

Just go for it! People can do much more that they think they can if they are committed. Anything is possible – but not everything. If you put your mind to anything you can do it – but that’s the thing – you have to concentrate on that one thing, and not try to do other things. Lots of people you meet tell you that you wont be able to do things, but you cant listen to them. You need to plan, assess risk, modify your plan, then GO FOR IT. If everyone was bound by certainty there would be no breakthroughs for development of both society and you as a person.

AP would like to thank Christian for this amazing committment to helping us save lives at sea by providing boats where there are none. We will certainly have some salty licorice waiting for you when you get home!