Albion head coach looks ahead to charity challenge
TONY Pulis is preparing for his toughest-ever challenge. And there won't be a football in sight.
While most footballers and coaches prepare to start their holidays at the end of May, Pulis will be heading to France...by boat...a boat he will be rowing.
The Albion head coach will swap the technical area for the inside of a boat when he is part of a team of fund-raisers doing the Tower to Tower challenge: rowing from Tower Bridge in London to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
As the crow flies, the distance is around 220 miles. But the nautical route will be nearer to 450-miles.
The journey will take rowers from Tower Bridge to the mouth of the River Thames at Canvey Island and out into the wash.
The crews will then follow the coast of Essex, Kent and Sussex, stopping at Ramsgate, before embarking on a 36-hour day and night crossing of the Channel to the mouth of the Seine at Le Havre.
From there they will row against the tide, completing the final leg of the journey to the French capital
Four to six people will row at any one time, guided by a coxswain, while their teammates rest, sleep and eat on a support vessel. They will switch every few hours.
Most importantly, the challenge will raise money for the Donna Louise Children’s Hospice Trust.
Pulis, a long-time supporter of the Stoke-on-Trent-based charity, is no stranger to challenges.
The Throstles boss has previously run marathons, cycled from one end of Scotland to the most southern part of England and climbed Kilimanjaro.
Yet this will be the toughest yet, he claims.
"Every year for the last six or seven years I have always done something for the Donna Louise," said Pulis.
"I didn’t do anything last year when I was a Palace but this year they rang me up and said ‘listen we’ve got a big one coming up’.
"I have got an enormous association with Stoke-on-Trent and with that hospice and I couldn’t say no.
"This year it’s rowing from Tower Bridge to the Eiffel Tower. With all the stuff I have just jumped into, it’s going to be pretty tough.
"You have to go out of the Thames, go down the coast because the smallest part of the channel they won’t let small boats or gigs across because it’s so busy.
"I have never done anything like this. I have done two marathons, Kilimanjaro, John O'Groats to Lands End cycle but I have never done anything on the sea. It’s a challenge.
"Do I get seasick? I’ll let you know."
Pulis explained just why this would be his most grueling challenge.
He continued: "There are two teams which take it in turns. Row for two hours, rest for two hours. We continuously go for seven days.
"I find rowing very difficult. Got to get my head round it. I enjoy running, walking...Kilimanjaro, I wouldn’t say was a pleasure but walking’s walking.
"Rowing down the river is different to rowing down the channel. There are going to be tides to contest with. The sleep deprivation is what worries me. I am quite a good sleeper so to not get that, that’s my biggest concern.
"It is going to be interesting. I am looking forward to it because it’s a fresh challenge, something I have never done in my life. I think as you get older, I think fitness-wise it’s always good to set yourself a target or an aim to go for. So you keep yourself fit mentally and physically.
"Doing it in May and I an hoping and praying it’s not the 24th or I might have to miss the first couple of hours and catch up with them.
"I'm trying to get myself physically fit by doing other things as well like cycling for 40 minutes, weights, core stuff.
"The most important thing for the challenge is the children - that we raise enough money to keep the place going. It is such a humbling place. Wonderful place and a very sad place at times.
"I have set something up in the gym now and I can watch videos of players and games so time goes quicker instead of just sitting there and going backwards and forwards. I have something to look at. The lads have been good at setting things up for me so now I can watch."
*DETAILS of how Albion fans can support the Tower to Tower Challenge will be made available soon.