Joining Mahaweli Challenge

In my first ever guest post, Kerim Morris explains how he became my teammate on Mahaweli Challenge, and how the nervous excitement has set in.


I vividly remember the day when I heard that Ian was looking for a willing volunteer to accompany him on his Mahaweli Challenge, enticing me with the words “This adventure would suit anyone with a vaguely inquisitive mind and a desire to challenge themselves with something out of the ordinary”.  The sensible part of me realised that the responses to this invitation would be many, and my chances slim, but they say ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it’, so I replied with the cleverly worded response “I’m interested!” and waited.

A short while later, having received a mouth-watering itinerary, Ian and I arranged to meet in an attempt to make a judgement as to whether we felt we could live in close proximity to each other through potentially stressful situations for a period of three weeks. I didn’t know what to expect whilst awaiting Ian’s arrival, maybe a guy dressed all in beige toting a machete on his hip; or possibly a military enthusiast sporting the obligatory camouflaged headband, jungle boots and survival knife as he barked orders at bemused commuters. Fortunately I was relieved to discover that he was a normal guy, well, as normal as someone can be when deciding to go on a three week river journey with someone he doesn’t know who has as little kayaking ability as he himself possesses!

Our meeting went well. Over a coffee and huge slice of caramel shortbread Ian outlined the plans, got out the map, and explained the process he would be following to select a suitable companion. This basically involved judging, as far as was possible, that he could get on with this individual for the duration of the challenge. I found Ian had a similar sense of humour to me, being pretty dry, often sarcastic, but light hearted and well meaning. It was a good start.

I left our meeting even more enamoured with the idea than I previously had been. It was a fantastic opportunity, a chance to take myself back out of my comfort zone and experience not only the wonders that Sri Lanka would have to offer, but discover if two people who know little about each other can develop into a successful team whilst getting along in some sort of harmony.

Further down the line, with the challenge start date looming, I find a raft of emotions beginning to take shape. The overriding feeling is one of excitement, having been quite some time since I have taken up such a challenge. However, there is also a certain amount of trepidation, not only towards the challenge itself but the dynamics of undertaking it with someone I know very little about too. The bottom line is that I have been lucky enough to have been given this opportunity and I intend to grab it with both hands and can’t wait for it to begin.

I see adventure as the search for situations that cause a certain amount of discomfort, challenging you both physically and mentally; and have a potential for failure. But rather than being a deterrent it is this discomfort and uncertainty that makes you feel most alive as you attempt to live the experiences many of us dream about, and if I have to listen to Ian singing “I would walk 500 miles….” around the campfire whilst playing his banjo to live this dream it will be a price worth paying (caveat: this may not be an accurate representation of Ian’ fireside behaviour – but it may be!).

Post script from Ian: It’s not!

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