Chris Hodgen (right) flies his company flag after conquering Mount Kilimanjaro. ..

Having won the 2013 Pre 90 Avon Tyres Northern Championship, Chris Hodgen set himself a very different challenge during the off-season. His goal was to reach the top of the Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for the Bolton Lads & Girls Club, which is the largest Youth Club in the UK and delivers a wide range of programmes to nearly 3,000 youngsters each week.

As can be seen in his photo above, he completed the feat! Chris landed in Tanzania at the beginning of March to embark on an 8-day climb to the top of the world’s largest freestanding mountain with a party of 20 others who were raising money for the same charity. Chris, who is Managing Director of Absolute Media says, “It was an amazing experience and oneI will never forgot. I met some fantastic people – not just my fellow group members but also the residents of Africa that I came into contact with.”

As can be imagined, a reasonably high level of fitness was required as 100 kilometres had to be tackled across quite difficult terrain but Chris admits it wasn’t quite as physically demanding as he was expecting. “It was more of a mental challenge,” he reflects, “It is very hard to explain but altitude does weird things to your brain and I had to concentrate for up to 8 hours at a time.” As such, a dramatic change in altitude was experienced and a range of temperatures was encountered. While the weather was perfect for much of the trip, towards the summit the thermometer dropped down to -20 C.

Hodgen’s motto is “Race hard against your rivals in the day and have a beer together at night” and it was this competitive spirit that made him determined to be the first in his group to reach the top of the mountain, which he achieved. It has also lured him back for another season of BRSCC FF1600 in the Pre 90 category thanks to the anticipation of a very competitive line-up of rivals, which includes the likes of John Farrell, Stuart Jones and Josh Fisher. Chris says, “In the upcoming season, my lap times are going to have to tumble to be competitive but that’s how it should be!”

After it was discovered that the chassis of his Van Diemen RF89 was split in two, a winter rebuild was required. This duty was handed over to Oldfield Motorsport and they have made a great job of completing the refurbishment, which included fitting a rebuilt engine and new dampers. A planned early season outing at Dijon may fall by the wayside as Hodgen focusses on being as well prepared as possible for BRSCC FF1600. Chris says, “I will need to be at the top of my game to even get close to Josh (Fisher).” Once again, backing will be provided by General Traffic with another major sponsor scheduled to be announced shortly.

Unfortunately, engine problems during a Mallory Park test session on Wednesday have put a major question mark over Chris’ participation in the first race meeting of the season at Oulton Park on 12th April.

In total, the group that went on the African adventure has so far raised over £60,000 for Bolton Lads &Girls Club but further funds are always required and Chris can still be sponsored via www.justgiving.com/user/47001521


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