Warning: flaming entry!

It's been a couple of years since I've been "thinking" about swimming the Channel or even attempting the gruelling Arch to Arc triathlon challenge. It consists of running from Marble Arch in London to Dover (140km), then swimming the Channel (35km) and finish by cycling to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris (290km). Only very few people managed it (five apparently). By "thinking", I really mean just having thoughts, not planning or anything. Yet.

Let's face it: on the paper this challenge looks amazing. Swimming the Channel is on its own a great challenge. But the whole symbolic aspect of the journey from one arch to another, in between two big European capital cities is simply perfect, let alone the ideally consistent split distances for the three stages.

Now let's have a closer look at the challenge organisation. At first glance it looks great: the boat is booked for you, that's one less thing to worry about. But then the registration fee for 2009 is £1800. Ouch! This doesn't include the boat pilot fee (add another £2000), it doesn't include any hotel or travel neither. Much worse: it doesn't even include the food and accommodation for the official representative that follows you during the event! Unbelievable!

So what the hell do you get from your £1800 then? You get a boat booked (but not payed for) for you on a neap tide, that's cool. You also get the some sort of official certification of your feat. But that's all! I hope you didn't expect any more logistics sorted out for you, that would be asking too much. According to the website, "it is your responsibility to make the necessary application to your boat pilot to authenticate your Channel swim/crossing" and "it is [your] responsibility to ensure that the Enduroman Rep is returned to Dover asap". I guess he has better things to do with your money than wasting time in Paris. Truly outrageous!

If we take the perspective of the "representative" aforementioned however, things are pretty smooth. With two neap tides a month, that's £3600 per month for 8 to 14 days work and a couple of phone calls. Not bad, there are worse jobs out there.

No wonder then why the guy protects his business with teeth and claws with ridiculous contractual clauses such as "you [...] will not attempt to take athletes on a London to Paris Challenge" or "if you do not succeed with the first Arch to Arc attempt and decide to make any other attempt you will make it through Enduroman Ltd". That's completely crazy: why should you be bound to this organisation for life if you fail? No one would accept such a deal on any other race: "if you do not finish your first London Marathon, then your next marathon attempt must be in London"... Simply silly. And just to ease the pain the website dares to precise "the Enduroman Arch to Arc is a major financial commitment. Expect to pay in the region of £5000 for all your expenses". Well more than a third is for your pocket money my friend!

I find it properly disgusting that people take such a mercantile advantage over day dreamers.

Financial aspects put aside, there is one organisational point I'm not sure about. After touching land at the end of the swim, you must take the boat to Calais to clear customs and sleep. In such a challenge I think I would do my best to avoid travelling by any other mean that my own power. I guess that's just personal.

Am I all wrong there? I somehow wish I am...

Ultra disappointing.