Most guys undergoing a mid-life crisis buy themselves an ill-fitting leather jacket and, if they’re feeling flush, a sports car. If they have access to an impressionable younger woman they might even take a lover; if not they’ll try running or cycling until their joints give out. They are also invariably blissfully unaware of what is happening to them. “She makes me feel so alive”, they’ll say of their lover (or sports car), oblivious to the cliche that their life has become.
Charlie Pitcher, however, is not most guys. For a start, he’s unnervingly honest about his penchant for endurance challenges. “It’s a mid-life thing”, he says. “If you look at trends for men in their forties, it’s quite incredible… Also I get a buzz when I have achieved it; I feel I have achieved something. It counteracts an ability to do well in exams at school. I feel subconsciously better if I can show my kids some kind of inspiration; they’re doing really well at school but this is the best thing I can do.”
Wow. If Charlie’s blistering candour weren’t enough, though, take a quick glance at what his latest challenge is. In January 2013 he is going to attempt a world record crossing of the Atlantic, rowing solo for 3000 miles with no support boat, rowing for 16 hours a day in rough, possibly shark-infested waters.
“I love being out at sea,” he tells me. “I don’t mind being by myself with dangers and risks. I’ve overcome them before and I can overcome them again”.
If you want to get a taste of what Charlie’s challenge is going to be like, have a look at his website, Transatlantic Solo and watch the film. Impressed? You should be.
Charlie’s inspirations are Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Tom Creane, the unsung hero of both Shackleton and Scott’s polar expeditions – their names are written on his boat and he’ll look at them when times get tough. “I think about what they went through and I think to myself, it’s not so bad; man up”, he says.
Charlie is also motivated by the charities he’s raising money for: Great Ormond Street Hospital (a hospital for sick children in London, a visit to which is one of the most humbling and sobering experiences you’ll ever have) and the C Group, which helps to re-educate injured Royal Marines and seeks to get them back into work.
If you’re inspired to donate, you can do so via Charlie’s website here. And if you like the cut of his jib and would like to meet him and see the boat for yourself, he’s launching the challenge this Thursday, 27th September 2012, in Paternoster Square, London EC4. He’ll be accompanied by his trainer, Greg Whyte, who helped the likes of David Walliams and Eddie Izzard with their own extreme fundraising challenges.
Go on, give a little. After all, it’s a heck of a lot easier than rowing the Atlantic and cheaper than a sports car.