What is the ultimate test of physical and mental endurance? Some would say a marathon. Others would say 20 marathons in 20 days. Some others would even say completing the Tour de France without any performance enhancing drugs. How about a month without alcohol? Welcome to Cancer Research UK's Dryathlon, 35,000 people signed up this year to endure January without a glass, pint or even a shot. Much in the vein of Movember the event aims to raise sponsorship through the entirety of January with an event which everyone can get involved in. Unlike marathons, climbing mountains and skydiving, everyone (almost) can give up alcohol for a measly 31 days. Or you'd hope so. Following on from the alcohol fuelled mayhem that is New Years Eve, the Dryathlon aims to attract detoxers fed up of consuming endless amounts of food and alcohol over the break. If only I was that strong.
The Dryathlon website has a feature called The Golden Pass. If you need a night off you can submit the following message to all your sponsors and see if you're allowed this moment of pleasure.
"Although I'm a world class Dryathlete something has come up that means I could do with a night off. Friends I beg of you grant me this and I will pay the fine you require."
We live in a culture now where it seems that we cannot even go an entire month without alcohol touching our lips. It sounds like a lot, I grant you, but surely that is the point of the sacrifice? If I sponsor my mate Derek to climb Kilimanjaro, I'd be really dissatisfied if he didn't make it to the peak. Obviously I wouldn't ask for the money back as it doesn't benefit Derek. But what is the point in even attempting to achieve it if you're allowed an option to pull out from the very get go?
As a student myself, I'm not the ideal candidate for the Dryathlon and I myself didn't partake in the event this year. But yet it really isn't impossible to spend a night with your friends on the soft drink and water. How about designated drivers who have to stand by while everyone around them slowly starts to babble. Donations to Cancer Research UK are benefiting tremendously from a fantastic idea, but The Golden Pass undermines the idea of the sacrifice. Surely just donating to the charity would be better than seeing my hypothetical Derek fail in his climb of Mount Kilimanjager.
After all this moaning, The Golden Pass does redeem itself by charging the alcohol deprived victim into donating money to charity for their lapse in courage. Maybe this should be adapted into other money raising tactics. If you don't finish the marathon you have to pay up. If you don't sell enough cakes at the bake sale you have to eat the remainder. If you don't manage to grow a fully fledged moustache come November 30th then we will draw one on in permanent marker. Dryathlon is another fantastic, unique idea to get people donating and improve their own health. Just hopefully it returns next year without the option to opt out for a momentary lapse of will power.