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Super Keith

A key member of the City Harvest London volunteer family, Keith Lawrence, “Everested” a hill in Highgate, North London, to raise funds and awareness for City Harvest on Saturday 19 June. During his 12-hour cycle, Keith accumulated the vertical elevation of Everest (8,848 metres).

So far, funds raised by Keith will provide nearly 9,000 meals to vulnerable Londoners. Help Keith to hit 10,000 meals by donating to his page now.

Keith completes his Everest summit in North London after 12 hours of graft.

Keith Lawrence: Everesting for City Harvest

“Whilst commencing the next phase of my career during the last 15 months, two things have helped me keep a sense of perspective and balance –

(1) Volunteering at City Harvest, one of London’s leading food bank re-distributors
(2) Cycling.

This weekend, I combined these by Everesting a North London hill in aid of City Harvest. This involved repeatedly ascending the same 500m 10% gradient hill 182 times over 12 hours (plus breaks) until I had accumulated at least the vertical elevation of Everest (8,848 metres).

Keith dons his “Harvest Hundred” hi-vis as he takes on Everest by bike.

City Harvest

It is a sign of our changed world that City Harvest has been able to develop so successfully in the last 15 months. It now, metaphorically, has an investment case and business model that many growth companies would dream of:

    • strong “customer” relationships and very high “customer” growth rates – it is now distributing food equivalent to 1m meals per month to its food-bank and charity partners
    • a focussed and committed management team, backed up by motivated employees and a strong network of volunteers
    • an increasingly strong and diverse network of generous suppliers of excess food from the retail, agricultural, hospitality and sporting industries, many of whom are household names
    • strong brand and reputation
    • it recently successfully scaled-up by re-locating to a larger warehouse in West Acton

Personally, it’s been great to be a small part of the volunteer team, contributing 500 hours over the past 15 months, helping me keep a sense of perspective and balance.

Cycling Parallels to Corporate Life

Cycling too has helped me here. Cycling also has huge parallels to corporate life. There is a very direct correlation between cycling effort (training) and reward (fitness). Cycling is largely an individual sport. However, cycling with others (teamwork) will make the journey faster and more enjoyable. As in corporate life, you get to see the bottom and top of a hill. Some rides are tougher than others. There will be bumps in the road, be they punctures, mechanicals or worse. Overcoming these “bumps” and/or getting to the top of a hill requires effort, focus and determination. Overcoming these bumps/hills is part of the reward and often creates the chance to accelerate (or at least enjoy a good view). Planning, training and preparing for a cycle event yields better results than approaching an event in an ad-hoc way.

Everesting a North London hill, an exercise in monotonous madness?

At one level, there’s no apparent logic in choosing to go up and down the same hill ad-finitum, especially 182 times. It is an exercise in mental monotonous madness (as well as being physically challenging). In the scheme of things, given the events of the last 15 months, it is also a privileged pain to subject yourself too. At the same time, especially in the uncertain current environment, it is a challenge that you can control and set yourself.

I experienced all of the above “cycling parallels” over 12 hours (plus breaks) of riding on Saturday. There was the elation and excitement of starting my first rep at 0430, matched by the fear of how many lay ahead. There were the huge benefits of having friends (and strangers) join and support me throughout the day, not least when I was just past half-way but where the finish line still seemed so distant. There was the quiet confidence of knowing I had prepared (trained) as well as I could for this, had a pacing strategy in mind and that I had with me more food, drink and other bits of bike “kit” than I should ever reasonably need.

I also had the frustration of finishing at about 1915 and then 90 minutes later, when aggregating and uploading my ride data at home, finding that I was somehow c. 170 metres short of the magical 8,848 metres (at this stage I had done 177 reps and which should have been enough to get me safely past 8,848 metres). The only solution was to go back to the hill and do 5 more reps. Note: the organisation that oversees Everestings ( also agreed that there was a data distortion and that these 5 reps were effectively not needed – I ended up at 9,190 metres for the 182 reps. But, better safe than sorry.

In conclusion

As much as I take some satisfaction from completing this Everesting; I take more from having volunteered at City Harvest the past 15 months and the fact that in doing this I might help City Harvest further in a small way.”

My fund-raising link is below:
A fuller description of my ride is here:

Keith's Impact #harvesthillwayeverest

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