OVER the last few years Craig Jackson has faced many challenges on the rugby pitch, but now he is shaping up for an even bigger challenge that will take place in his back garden this Sunday to raise vital funds for charity.
The 28-year-old utility-back, who was named captain of the Southern Knights Super6 squad for 2019-20 but missed the campaign due to a pectoral injury, wants to do his bit to help in the ongoing fight against COVID-19. And he has come up with a unique physical challenge to take part in that will test his stamina and endurance over a long spell.
“In an attempt to mirror the standard 12 hour shift patterns of those fighting the current battle on the front line, I have set myself a 12 hour challenge,” he explains. “It is an hourly 12km challenge consisting of a 3km row, a 4km run and a 5km cycle – I will complete this every hour on the hour in my back garden in Melrose from 7am until 7pm this coming Sunday.
“Over the last few weeks in lockdown my thoughts and concerns have been with all of the NHS staff and other frontline workers who are working tireless and selflessly in the fight against the coronavirus at the risk of their own health.
“In stark contrast all we have to do is simply stay at home – we have by far the easier option and I ended up asking myself what more could I do to help?
“I don’t really know where the idea of the exact challenge came from, it just popped into my head and I wanted to make it relatable to the shifts that NHS staff work and also achievable for myself.
“It will be a hard challenge – and a bit of a step into the unknown – but that is what I want it to be because frontline staff are facing these sorts of challenges every day at the moment.
“And they don’t just have to do it once, they have to keep going back for 12 hour shifts and doing their best, we should all be so grateful for that.”
So, Jackson is facing up to 144km in total – how has he been training and planning to get himself prepared?
“I have been doing quite a bit of rowing over the last few days and working out my plan of action for that first part of each hour so that I can head into the run feeling relatively good and then get a bit of a rest period whilst I am on the bike,” the man who played for Scotland Sevens in the World Cup in San Francisco two years ago explained.
“I will be rowing on a rowing machine, running on a treadmill and cycling on a Wattbike and repeating the same circuit over and over, hydrating the whole way through and trying to get food on board mainly during the cycle.
“The challenge is achievable, but I don’t think that I can prepare for the pain that I am going to start feeling when it gets into hour six, seven, eight and beyond.
“I will be supported by my girlfriend who will be leading the ‘backroom team’ and helping me out while my grandma is here too with us.
“The Southern Knights guys also have some Zoom calls pencilled in so they can check in with me and keep my spirits up during the 12 hours while I must say a big thankyou to the guys from the Fit House gym down south.
“They have been advising me on my training, helping me find the pace I need to be hitting on each discipline regularly to keep things ticking along and they have just been there for me if I have had any queries.
“The Fit House guys have also supplied me with a stretching programme and that is key as Sunday – and Monday and beyond – will be sore!”
The money that Jackson raises this weekend will go to two charities; NHS Charities Together and Mind.
There are more than 250 NHS charities across the UK and most of them focus on helping hospitals do more – NHS Charities Together helps tie this fundraising together so that people can stay well for longer and get better faster.
Mind is supporting everyone experiencing a mental health problem during these difficult times and Jackson said: “The two causes do such great work and I know people who have suffered with mental health issues so Mind is a charity close to my heart and I know what a difference the people there make, especially in these strange times.
“I have had great support from the rugby community and further afield so far and I am grateful to everyone who is helping with the fund raising.”
Jackson is aiming to raise £2,400, If you want to support him in the challenge the click HERE.