Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action – helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Now, and for the future.
The world is more fragile than ever. Food shortages have left millions of people hungry, while violent conflict has sent millions on the run. From poverty and malnutrition to natural disasters and climate change, it’s easy to see a world of insurmountable challenges. Instead, we see an opportunity to creative transformative change.
In crisis, we believe in the power of human potential. In struggle, we believe in the ability of communities to grow stronger.
Since 2005, over £1.1m has been raised from the Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon. From Ethiopia to Syria, money raised from the Quadrathlon has been directly invested into where it is needed the most. From microfinance projects, to educating marginalized girls in Nepal; funds have been invested into programmes that demonstrate innovative, bold, create solutions to complex crises.
Thank you for the effort you have put into participating in the Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon, and for supporting Mercy Corps. Together, we can empower people to survive through crisis, build better lives and transforms their communities for good.
Best of luck,
Make sure you focus on these few things and the last 34 miles of the Quad will be a breeze….
1. Train the distance - Obvious one, but make sure you can cycle 34 miles. Training the distance and maybe longer will give you the mental strength of knowing you can do it and keep going to the end of the event.
2. Brick training - In the Quad you transition from kayaking to cycling. If you are in the fortunate position to be able to practice this then do it once a week. If not then try going from a rowing machine to cycling at the gym or from a hill walk into a cycle. You will be cycling on tired legs in the race so practice with 2 activities combined together to replicate this as best you can.
3. Hit the hills - Build that all important leg strength by riding hill repeats. These are tough to do by yourself so team up with your partner for this session. As part of a long cycle ride, find a hill that takes 3-5min to cycle up. Cycle hard uphill and slowly roll back down to recover, repeat 4 times the first time and add on an extra climb each session.
4. Bike fit - Make sure your bike is the right size for you, the saddle and handlebars are adjusted correctly and the seat is comfortable. Bikes are not one-size-fits-all! Take yours along to an expert to get fitted to your body shape and you’ll find training and racing much more enjoyable.
5. Nutrition - Being the last of the 4 Quad disciplines everyone will be running out of steam! Don’t forget to stay hydrated and keep eating your snacks or energy bars and gels. In training, be sure to practice what and how often you will eat on the bike and throughout the race. This will make the difference between enjoying the last few miles or hating every minute!
This month we checked in with Cameron, HR Director for Mercy Corps, to hear how he’s ramping up his training and kick-starting his fundraising as the Quad looms closer. Can you believe it’s just a little over three months until we all gather on the shores of Loch Tay?!
“My training is going well” he told us, “I feel pretty confident about each sport individually and as July approaches I’m trying to take my training to the next level by transitioning from one discipline to another.
For me, the most challenging part of my training right now is linking it up so I’m prepared for multiple sports at once. I’ll be honest, the thought of all four disciplines together seems like an enormous undertaking right now - going on a run after a 1.5km swim defies logic! It’s time to welcome that stage of preparation though, and I know it will be made all the easier as I’m spurred on by my fellow contestants on the day.
I grew up in the US Pacific Northwest, so being cold and wet comes second nature to me and I would rather be cold than hot when exercising anyway. Having said that, the arrival of nicer spring weather is great motivation to get outside. I like to train in the morning and it’s been a highlight to run through South London, where I live, and enjoy great views of the London skyline as the sun comes up.
When I’m running, I think of the Mercy Corps teams that I’ve visited in some of our most remote locations, like Wajir, Kenya or Karamoja, Uganda. It’s very easy to take opportunities like the Quad for granted but thinking of the people I met there reminds me it is a privilege to even be able to do the training. Even if I’m exhausted from training, I’m motivated by the fact I am in a position to take part in an event like this - it’s easy to lose sight of that.
Although I’m pretty happy with how my training is progressing, I will admit that fundraising doesn’t come so easy for me so I’m still trying to find my path with this. To get started, I took a few minutes to set up my Virgin Money Giving page which was very easy to do.
I shared the link on Facebook and Instagram which turned out to be well worth doing. I was surprised by my friends’ generous response and I managed to reach £250 by sharing on social media alone! To keep me ticking towards my goal, I’m planning to be personal and honest about my training so that family and friends can follow my story and celebrate my decision to enter the Quad by sponsoring.”
Thank you for your insight Cameron! If you too are finding fundraising a fifth challenge in itself, remember Sophie at Mercy Corps and Morven at Mary’s Meals are always on hand to chat through ideas and inspiration. Just get in touch at email@example.com or UKFundraising@marysmeals.org. Sometimes, the thought of getting started is the most daunting part!
If you are anything like me, with less than two months to go until the quad, your mind will be on the impending physical challenge that we all will soon face. It is easy to forget in the midst of this challenge the reason why we signed up for The Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon – to raise money for two worthwhile charities. Along with the physical battle which we must overcome on the day we are also required to raise £450 each (in a team of two) towards Mary’s Meals and Mercy Corps. For two so-called professional fundraisers; Mary’s Meals team “Quadrophenia” has a lot to live up to!
Recently, Mary’s Meals launched our film Generation Hope online. This award-winning film tells the stories of some of the young people who received and enjoyed the benefits of Mary’s Meals as children and are now partof a new generation beginning to find its voice and build a brighter future.
We jumped at the chance to use Generation Hope to raise awareness of Mary’s Meals and our epic challenge by hosting a film night in our office. This was a fantastic opportunity to tell our colleagues some humiliating stories from our Loch Tay training sessions and show them the life changing difference that their donation can make.
To see the great work that Mary’s Meals does in 14 countries throughout the world, you can watch our film Generation Hope here.
See what your fundraising can achieve!
Last year, Quad participants raised crucial funds for our projects around the world. Watch this video and see how Mercy Corps helped transformed the lives of 30 million people in 2016, and be inspired in knowing that your fundraising will create lasting change. Set up your Virgin Giving page, encourage your friends and families to donate, and join us in empowering people to survive through crisis, build better lives and transform their communities for good.
With only two full months left to train for this year’s quad, our training is underway.
My teammate Joe has a big advantage in one of the disciplines and thinks he is quite the Bradley Wiggins… Joe has been steadily training for the gruelling 34-mile cycle since signing up for the quad
last September. Joe has said, ‘I am really looking forward to the cycling element of the quad. Cycling to work every day has not only been a great way to fit more training into my schedule but has also helped me to find a new lovefor the sport.’
I, on the other hand, have had to relearn how to ride a bike! After some failed attempts, scuffed knees and tantrums I am finally on the bike and training.
During this challenge, I was reminded of Dyson Chitdowe from our film Generation Hope. Dyson is our school feeding monitor in Malawi and uses a motorbike to visit the schools. Dyson is an orphan who once ate our meals at school. He is now employed by Mary’s Meals as a motorbike monitor, roaming the district to perform spot checks on the schools. Dyson says that it was Mary’s Meals that made him go to school.
“I am the only member of my family that has done well in life” he says, serious and articulate. “And now I am supportingthe rest of them. My brother is 17 and just starting Year Two; I also support
my sister and her two children. It’s a challenge for me but I love doing it.”
When children asked Dyson about his job he told them how they too must work hard so that they can have a job and ride around on a motorbike. “I’m a role model and I take it very seriously,” he
says. “It’s one of my favourite things about my job. This is our new generation of leaders. They are bound to make things better.”
Dyson has helped me to remember that the challenges I face in preparation for the quadrathlon this July are small incomparison to those faced by many in the countries where we work. Our struggles
in the next few months will not go unnoticed as we help to give 1,230,171 children a route out of poverty.
The last leg of the Quad is when you rely on you bike to get you over that finish line. Other people around the world rely on their bikes as well, but for different kinds of challenges.
Meet Yousef, a Syrian teenager living in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. Zaatari is more than a camp; it’s a small city home to 80,000 refugees and spans two square miles. Where few own cars, buses are limited, taxis are too expensive and walking at length in the desert heat is dangerous, having a bike is a lifeline in the camp.
Bikes connect friends and families. People use bikes to commute to work and bikes themselves provide jobs through repair shops. In the Zaatari refugee camp, bikes allow movement and give people a sense of freedom, which can mean so much for those who are far from home and feel trapped in the camp.
Yousef uses his bike - amongst many things - to attend one of Mercy Corps’ youth centres, which serves as an informal school, gym and social centre for the camp’s young residents. Through the sports provided, such as football, weightlifting, wrestling, gymnastics, and aerobics, he has made friends, released stress and learned the value of positive thinking. For Yousef, these sports activities have given him a sense of hope he had all but lost: he has been inspired to become a sports coach when he grows up.
Your fundraising efforts can support activities such as these, which help young refugees cope with trauma, learn life skills and build healthy relationships. 34 miles on your bike may seem like a lifetime, but your determination can support individuals living in crisis with help that will have a lasting impact.
This month, the Mary’s Meals Quad team decided that instead of doing monotonous work outs at the gym we would find a way of training whilst also doing something worthwhile. This way we would not only be working hard but also doing good in the process.
Along with some enthusiastic volunteers, Joe and I both headed to the Mary’s Meals warehouse in Glasgow to load thousands of backpacks onto the Mary’s Meals container destined for Malawi. It was hard work but it was definitely worth it!
While loading the backpacks I thought about some of the children receiving Mary’s Meals and how they would enjoy their backpacks when they arrived. Some of the schools Mary’s Meals reaches are very remote and difficult to get to. St Peter’s Primary School is situated on Likoma Island which means that receiving their likuni phala (porridge) isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
Due to poor soil, Likoma Island has to import most of its food but the large ships cannot quite reach the mainland due to poor infrastructure. Large ships delivering food must be docked in a deeper part of the lake, further from the mainland, and small boats are then used to ferry the goods to land.
However, this doesn’t stop our incredible volunteers and parents on the island. They are always excited to see the ship arrive and they jump at the chance to be ferried to the bigger ship to collect the 20kg bags of likuni phala to deliver to St Peter’s Primary School where the children will receive a daily meal in their place of education.
Training for the Quad can be difficult, but knowing that our efforts are going to help children in the world’s poorest communities makes it so much easier!
The kayak up Loch Tay will seem tough after the mountain phase. You will be tired, but you will be safe. The journey made by many refugees is long and risky and includes crossing the Mediterranean Sea. This is a journey that Walaa and her family had to undergo in 2015. Walaa and her family were lucky enough to all survive the journey and when they arrived in Europe Mercy Corps were there to support them.
At 8 months old, Fatima was sleeping in her bed when a rocket fell on her house and sparked a fire. Walaa, Fatima’s mother ran into the wreckage to find her daughter on fire.
Fatima has had a dozen operations to treat her burns, but she can’t walk, hear or speak. As the Syrian conflict dragged on, it became increasingly difficult for Walaa to access medical care for Fatima. Walaa and her husband decided their only choice was to try to get to Europe.
Walaa’s husband left Syria first in July 2015. Six months later, Walaa and her children - 4-year-old Sami, 3-year-old Fatima and 2-year-old Salma - left too. They walked the desert for two days to Turkey’s border, where smugglers took them across the country and across the Aegean Sea. Walaa and her children were forced to get into a flimsy rubber dinghy; the journey across the water was both dangerous and terrifying.
On the Greek island of Lesvos, waiting to find out if her family’s asylum would be granted and their family could be reunited in Germany, Walaa told us of her fears. “We do not know what will happen to us. We are trapped in the middle, far from our family and far from my husband. We are alone, and it’s tough.”
To ease that burden, Mercy Corps provided Walaa with a prepaid card to purchase food and clothes for her family and pay for transportation costs. In a life of unknowns, cash has given Walaa a feeling of freedom and dignity; the ability to choose how to provide for, and meet the basic needs of her children. Walaa uses the cash to create little moments of joy for the children, such as purchasing a treat of peanuts and soda for Sami and Salma. “So they can forget the hunger and the horrible days they’ve lived. So they can be happy.”
As you’re training for that 7 mile stretch of Loch Tay in your kayak, remember that your journey is enabling Mercy Corps to help those who have been forced to flee conflict. Push through the paddling pain and think that together, we can make a difference.
Want to get an independent insight into the Quadrathlon? James Bingham completed the event in 2016 and produced a fantastic blog which can be found here.