Recently, we caught up with the team behind Status Code 14; a group of friends with a passion for adventure who are completing some epic challenges to raise money for The Chestnut Appeal for Men’s Health and Rock2Recovery. Starting with a tri-relay from London to Paris this August followed by an ultra-marathon across the Namibian desert in November, the team will then be sailing across the Atlantic in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge in early 2022 and finishing off with a hike up Mont Blanc before paragliding off the summit. We don’t think they could pack any more adventure into the next 12 months!
All this thrill-seeking is for a fantastic cause, ‘Status Code 14’ is a UK National Emergency Services radio request call used when the sender requires urgent callback and the staff who take these emergency calls are routinely exposed to distressing and traumatic incidents, alongside other demanding workload pressures. Funds raised from the challenges they’re undertaking will go supporting the incredible individuals who may not be able to access the support they need.
Status Code 14 will be taking Aquapac gear with them on their adventures, to keep their kit dry and protected against the elements.
Here’s what Simon had to say:
You guys are in for a jam-packed year! What made you want to start fundraising?
“Following Steve’s diagnosis and initial treatment for PTSD, we talked about how many other Police Officers were in the same position. We did some very basic research and found that Steve was not alone and there are in fact, a large number (potentially one in five) of Police Officers who have PTSD. Steve received fantastic support and treatment via The Occupational Health Department of Devon and Cornwall Police, but not everyone ‘raises their hand’ and asks for help for fear of what family, friends and most importantly colleagues or the job might say. We therefore wanted to raise awareness of this growing problem of PTSD within the Police and also the wider Emergency Services community, but also wanted to raise money for Officers to gain access to much needed ‘help’ privately for those who didn’t want to go through the conventional Occupational Health Department channels. We approached a number of charities, but all fell short of what we were looking for. I spoke to a couple of Officers who had received help for their PTSD through a Community Interest Company called Rock2Recovery. On speaking to them, they immediately appealed to us and what we want to achieve, so it was an easy choice.”
This kick-started our wish to raise awareness and fundraise money. I have been involved for a few years with a local men’s cancer charity called The Chestnut Appeal. They are traditionally a charity for those with prostate cancer, but recently expanded to include other men’s cancers such as testicular cancer. Having had a testicular cancer scare myself only a few years ago, I asked Steve if we could include The Chestnut Appeal in our fundraising and awareness efforts to highlight men’s cancers, especially as The Chestnut Appeal were going to launch a campaign.”
Why did you choose the expeditions you did? How much experience do you have with those activities?
“To capture the interest of people, you need to do something different. People love a challenge which has an element of pain and suffering! When looking at challenges, Steve and I agreed they needed to be physically challenging, but include an extra twist. Having completed the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race 10 years ago, I had always wanted to do the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and that certainly ticks all the boxes. It was the first challenge on the list. Last year, four of us swam the English Channel as a Relay Team. I wanted to take it up a notch we planned an 87-mile run from London to Dover, swimming the 21 miles of the English Channel and then cycle the 181 miles from Calais to Paris. That’s how the London to Paris Triathlon Relay came to fruition as the second on the list. Steve has a passion for paragliding, and I wanted to go back and Climb Mont Blanc again, so the two together seemed to a good fit and became the third on the list. During Steve’s darkest days with PTSD he used his running as part of his therapy, so an ultra-marathon seemed a great fit. The ‘Run to the Wreck’ in Namibia quickly became the fourth on the list. To keep running as the theme for Steve, he wanted the launch event to be a punishing run, so he chose the Great Glen Way in Scotland, which makes the five – but watch out for more!”
Which expedition are you most looking forward to?
“For me, I am most excited about the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge. Although I get seasick, I love the water and especially the oceans. It’s a challenge that’s definitely on my bucket list!”
And which will require the most training for the team?
“Although each challenge is unique, I think either the Atlantic Row or the Hike and Fly from Mont Blanc will require the most training. You have to learn specific skills for both as well as the endurance elements. We are also hugely at the mercy of the weather to succeed in both challenges.”
How will you be preparing for four back-to-back challenges?
“The challenges are back-to-back on an annual basis, which means as soon as we complete one, we bounce onto the next. The only way to prepare physically is to break each challenge down and train specifically for that event. I for one, can only think about one challenge at a time, otherwise the task is just too huge. Bitesize chunks work best. I think for certainly the Atlantic Row and the Hike and Fly we are getting out there and speaking to as many different people as we can. For example, we are in contact with lots of other rowing teams sharing tips and ideas. Everyone is in the same boat (literally) so it helps to talk and share. It is such an enormous challenge that just brings like-minded people together, which creates an amazing connection between people. Having just completed the triathlon, physically, I am going to have to change the way I train. I need to now concentrate on more functional fitness to prepare me for the row. Again, just another lot of new skills to learn, but I can’t wait to get into it.”
What are five pieces of kit that will be universal essentials for all your trips?
1. Quality rucksacks/holdalls – like those provided to us by Aquapac, one of our supporters
3. Factor 50 sunscreen
4. Gentle loo roll
5. A sense of humour!
Talk to us more about the charities you’ve chosen, Rock2Recovery and The Chestnut Appeal for Men’s Health.
“Rock2Recovery is a military based charity here in the South-West which strive to create positive change. They recognise the need for rapid preventative interventions, specific coaching, and assistance, including the provision of short and long-term refocusing support for veterans with brain injuries and mental health issues attributable to their period of service. But they are also using their expertise and experience to help members of the Emergency Services, as they recognise the similarities of the mental health issues, and in particulate PTSD, which Police Officers and other Emergency Services personnel suffer from.
“The Chestnut Appeal support the very latest in treatments and technology that wouldn’t be available without community fundraising. Originally a charity purely for prostate cancer, they also raise awareness of testicular cancer and penile cancer, two other quite treatable cancers that sadly if left can be devastating. They believe it is vital to get more men talking about their health and taking action when they feel like something could be wrong. A lot of
their time is spent out in the community running support groups and giving talks and seminars about these 3 cancers.”
Do you have any words of wisdom for someone looking to embark on an expedition to raise money for charity?
“I think whatever you do, have a passion for it. There are a huge number of charities now and no one charity is better than the other. It is all about the personal connection you have with the charity you choose. Regarding challenges and expeditions, I would say think big, be brave and take risks.”
How can people donate or follow you along on your adventures?
“If anything I have said sparks an interest, then please visit our website www.statuscode14.com. if you would like to donate, please contact us via email at [email protected] or visit our GoFundMe page at statuscode14.”
What Aquapac gear are the Status Code 14 team armed with?
Aaron: ‘The Waterproof First Aid Kit came in super handy I’m sorry to say. I took a tumble in the early hours of the morning at about 55 miles into the run stage, fell hard and cut my hands and knees.
“Being out on a challenge like that we need to know that the integrity, sterility, and cleanliness of our first aid equipment is maintained. The Aquapac Waterproof First Aid Kit certainly did its job. Team member Brad is a trauma trained field medic, everything he needed was in the bag, clean, dry, and ready to get me back on the road. Great bags, thank you Aquapac.”
Simon: “Doing a multiple discipline event like the London Paris tri-relay means that we needed multiple changes of clothing, running kit, cycling kit and our swim kit plus warm gear for the recovery sections in between the stages.
“The 90 L Heavyweight Duffle Bag is cavernous!! It just eats up kit. It’s by far the best ‘basecamp’ type duffle I have used. It happily took all my triathlon gear, helmet, shoes, trainers, towels, and clean clothing. When you get off a stage of the tri and hand over to another team member, you really appreciate a change of dry clothes to get into.
“Using the duffles on the tri and seeing how practical and well-made they are has definitely secured their place as one of our ‘must have’ pieces of kit for our Atlantic row challenge next December. Thank you Aquapac.”