Stoke City boss to scale Kilimanjaro
Climb Every Mountain, sang the Reverend Mother in the popular 1965 film The Sound of Music, and Stoke City manager Tony Pulis seems to be taking the character at her inspirational word.
The Welshman, who served a long apprenticeship in the lower divisions before scaling his own peak in 2008 by taking Stoke into the top-flight for the first time in 23 years, will next week begin a seven-day expedition to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for charity.
Pulis and City-supporting television personality Nick Hancock will lead two teams up Africa’s highest peak in a bid to raise at least 100,000 pounds ($149,400) for the Donna Louise Children’s Hospice.
It is not the first time Pulis has given up his time to try and raise funds for the charity. (Go to www.kili4kids.org to donate.)
“The hospice is only about a mile away from the football ground so we’ve had a connection with them for quite some time,” the 52-year-old told Reuters in an interview.
“Last year everybody was feeling the pinch a bit financially and they asked if I could do something for them so I ran the London Marathon.
“Afterwards I told them, ‘Don’t be afraid to ask if I can ever help you again’,” added Pulis who has performed wonders to establish Stoke as a force in their two years in the Premier League and was touted as a candidate for the 2009 Manager of the Year award.
Pulis is wary about going into the unknown for his Kilimanjaro trek and will certainly need more protection than the signatory tracksuit and baseball cap he wears when he patrols the touchline at the Britannia Stadium.
“I’ve never been asked to climb a mountain before but I know it’s going to be pretty treacherous,” he said with a nervous giggle.
“The conditions and the altitude sickness are big concerns to people who have spoken to me about it so it’s all about preparing yourself right. Fitness-wise it’s going to be tough, I’ll have to grit my teeth and try and get through it.
“I’m a little bit wary of the weather conditions and I’ve never slept rough before. As for the altitude I’ve never been that high up, apart from flying.”
Pulis said one of the biggest challenges would be coping with the drastic changes in temperature in north-east Tanzania.
“We start off with the weather likely to be pretty warm and you actually walk through desert-like conditions for a day,” he added.
“But then it gets very cold at night and obviously the higher you get the colder it gets so the temperature could be anything between -30 and +30.
“You’ve got to be very careful how you protect yourself, how you dress and what you eat and drink.”
Pulis is lean and trim and said he had always tried to keep himself fit but acknowledged the day-to-day demands on a Premier League manager had made it difficult to devote enough time to train properly for his expedition.
“I will turn up and do my damnedest to finish it,” said the former Portsmouth, Plymouth Argyle, Bristol City, Bournemouth and Gillingham manager.
“The most important thing is I’ve always kept myself pretty fit. I’ve never trained to climb a mountain and the biggest problem I think I’ll have is the altitude.
“Everybody says it’s the altitude sickness that can catch you out. You can be as fit as a flea and it’ll still catch you,” said Pulis who guided Midlands club Stoke to 11th place in the 20-team league this season.
“Sleeping rough will be difficult too but it’s for a great cause and I’ll do anything I can to help the charity.
“Nick and I are looking to raise at least 50,000 pounds each — if we can do that we’ll be absolutely delighted”.