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Daring Deeds - real stories, expeditions, road trips and adventure

Reaching the E1 start line

By Aleks Kashefi
26, Jul, 2016

Through goodbyes, injury, realisation. The start of the 7600km run looms heavy.

Suddenly it’s hit me.  I can’t focus on the screen I type words on… A watery blur fills my sight and the more I fight it the more it flows. 

There is a deep and unspoken joy in teaching that is lost in the bitterness, the unnecessary tasks and data chasing, the reduction of base values to the machinations of the governmental machine.  There is a deep satisfaction from seeing young children arrive in your presence and leave as young adults.  Cast into the world like a message in the bottle, a message that you aren’t even sure will ever be noticed or read, and it is not done for the thanks but for the love of the act of teaching.

I will miss that joy.  A joy that more should be shouting about… 

Well right now I'm sat staring at an acrylic cubical. Inside sit 2 people, like prisoners on visitors day.  Luckily for them, it's just a smoking cubical.

I'm halfway through the 26hr journey to Nordkapp, the start of my little adventure. Yesterday's panic, anxiety and general questioning of whether I'm ready vanished as soon as the plane took off.  The golden beams of light from the setting sun seemed to christen the start of the journey. So much time has been put into this trip. I changed my way of life and made it less comfortable, I reduced my calorie intake drastically and continued to train and I trained harder... Less distance but more extreme and more vert.

With 1 week till I was due to leave I took part in the Lakes Sky Ultra. When you injure yourself so close to something you've worked on for what feels like years, it's really difficult to focus on any positives! The first part of the race was great and I stopped after the scree descent from Swiral edge to clean the mud from my sandals. I took one barefooted step, slipped and did a great job of slashing through the base of my third toe. I got up, ran to the check point and was about to carry on when one of the marshals pointed out the blood. After, I waged the blood away and checked my toe... The emotions are a mix of anger and frustration, but mainly anger at myself. The race is done, but the E1 trail was looming and I was going to have to heal fast... 

If your adventure is to be some kind of learning exercise, helping you delve deeper into who you are, the better to start with a learning curve set to steep. Luckily a week, some super glue, some restrained activity and finally it has all come together, I was on my way. What I have with me now, at just 9.5kg, is going to have to last well over 2000km of fast packing and I'm going to have to go with less food as the route has several 180km+ areas without any civilisation.  I guess that's the important thing here.  

I doubted my decision on the last day of my career as a teacher, but now that the emotions of it all have dulled, I think this is the right path. I leave to show that fear is not something that should stop us.  The unknown and the chance of failure, small or large, shouldn’t stop us reaching beyond our perceived ability and as teachers, we should lead by example... You all possess what you need within and need to simply reach out and unlock it. You just need to do a few simple things:

Refuse to believe that you are not able.

Raise your standards higher than you ever have and refuse to let them drop.

Refuse to be ruled by your fears.

Refuse to stop trying.

As always the act of writing steadies the mind and emotions. It is time to step out of the classroom and try a different way to guide them.

Only time will tell...  See you on the other side. 

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In pictures


Share your thoughts about this article.


What an amazing thing to do. Sadly I've gone from being military fit to very unfit in the last 18 months. Something like you are doing seems an impossibility now. But I wish you good luck with this and can't imagine what a leap of faith it has taken to remove yourself from your comfort zone and do this knowing you have given up your career, one of the most important of all professions. On you return you should set yourself up as a guest speaker and tour schools to inspire young minds on what is possible with imagination and focus. One thing the military taught me was "Look after your feet, your crotch and your mouth, they will keep you going". Keep up the Vit B and Vit C intake for soft tissue repair and keep going. The worst thing you can carry is the air gap in the top of your water bottle. The second worst is the negative thoughts.

Good luck Aleks!

Many of us would love to do something like this, but you've had the courage to give up your much-loved job and actually do it. Many congratulations just for starting! Doubtless there will be many highs and lows (in every sense) on the way but it will be a huge achievement. I was listening to a podcast coming to work today by John Carlton, who said that to engage the interest of other people you have to do interesting stuff yourself, you can't make it up lying on the sofa! If you return to teaching afterwards, your students will be so lucky to have you, not only because you can tell them about your journey but because you overcame all the problems and actually went and did it. Very best wishes.


What will you eat? And how will you get/carry it?

Inspiring thoughts

Great insightful writing, we are with you in thought and heart, please keep us posted

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