Interview – Kris King
Established coach, motivational speaker, marathon competitor and sport charity aficionado Kris King is heading out this September to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. A tough challenge on its own, King is also chasing the British speed climbing record, all in aid of his non-profit organisation Phil’s Kids, which supports those suffering from and at risk of Huntington’s disease. Beth Maguire had a chat with Kris about his preparations for the upcoming event and what keeps him motivated ahead of his attempt.
How are you doing today?
I’m not too bad thanks!
You’re about to try and climb Kilimanjaro in less than 10 hours, while it usually takes around 7 days to complete. How do you train for an event like that and have you come close yet in training?
At the minute I’m training six days a week, sometimes twice a day, and I’m working with Sheffield University who help to structure my programme. It involves a mixture of lots of slow really low intensity running, and lots of short high intensity running. It’s really hard to replicate though because the highest altitude in this country is 1000 metres, and the top of Kilimanjaro is 5800 metres. I’m going to France for a training camp for two weeks which will get me up to 2500 metres, so I can replicate the altitude a little bit but I won’t have a true idea until I get to the mountain itself.
How long have you got until the Kilimanjaro challenge?
It’s in less than 30 days but I don’t have an exact date yet as it will be finalised when I get to the mount, but it’s around mid-September, and people can follow the progress online with the live tracking systems for the duration to see how I’m getting on.
What do you expect the conditions to be like?
Well at the bottom its jungle with 100% humidity, then it goes up into almost desert conditions where its mostly rocky with open space, and as I go up through the clouds it will start to get cold and the summit will take me through glaciers to a snow top, so it’s a really drastic range of temperatures in such a short amount of time. There are obvious dangers with me climbing at such an altitude and such a quick pace, as the reason is usually takes 5-7 days is because of altitude sickness which can be severe enough to kill you, so I’ve got to be really careful as a lot of things can go wrong.
Wow, massive good luck with that! How did you become involved in these big endurance challenges?
Last year I ran and cycled around the UK and got a real bug for it. But with Kilimanjaro in particular, a friend of mine is a mountain climber and he holds the South African record for speed climbing Kilimanjaro. I met him in Australia for a coffee, and within about five minutes he was scribbling on the back of a napkin what his route was and how he did it, and I thought ‘right, I’m going for the British record’, so it was decided in a coffee shop on the back of a napkin.
What motivates you when the challenges are so hard?
Well the money we raise goes to help families that are risk of Huntington’s disease, and we help them to have babies via PGD-IVF which is a process than can screen out the disease, and I know a lot of families who are at risk or are sufferers of Huntington’s disease and I’ve lost a lot of people close to me to the disease, so it’s a really personal thing for me.
And that’s a part of your non-profit Phil’s Kids?
Yes, so Phil’s Kids is a foundation that we set up in honour of somebody who passed away last year. We see it as a way to replace life with life, as the aim of the foundation is to fund as many of the PGD-IVF procedures as possible to create new healthy life for these families.
Last year you were nominated for a Pride of Britain Award. How did you feel about the experience?
Yeah that was insane! I didn’t expect it at all. It obviously came out of nowhere and I don’t do this for any kind of recognition, but it was nice to have such a small charity brought on to a national platform like Pride of Britain and it was really nice, but it was quite embarrassing because I didn’t really feel like I’d earned it.
Your nomination certainly seems deserving as you a lot for good causes! You also do motivational speaking, how did that come about?
It kind of came on the back of everything else really. People would come to me and ask me to visit places and do talks, and I found I really enjoyed it because I’m a coach so I wasn’t shy about speaking in public. I get a lot of teachers asking if I’d go into schools and speak to the students, and because I had quite a hard upbringing I can speak to these kids on a personal level as I’ve been through the types of things they’re going through and understand it. But I get asked to talk at a lot of different places, to tell stories about the things that I’ve done and how I’ve overcome certain obstacles, and to talk about becoming self-motivated and how to draw on people for inspiration.