PEEKING cheekily over his mum’s shoulder, seven-month-old Henry Martin has no idea he is helping mum Anna get ready for a gruelling Arctic trek.
Anna Martin, 29, is aiming to cover about 150 miles of a frozen wilderness in seven days with a team of huskies for the Countryside Alliance Foundation.
And as the weather here has become less frosty, Anna, from Boarhunt, whose husband Sam is a farmer, has started using some novel ways of training that also keep little Henry close by.
She regularly straps her son to her back and takes him with her as she gets in shape for the big event.
She said: ‘To prepare for it we’ve been told that we need to be able to run uphill for 20 minutes.
‘I’ve been out running on the farm quite a bit – taking Henry out with me in the backpack, but I must admit I am a bit behind with my training.’
‘Henry comes pretty much everywhere with me at the moment anyway because he’s still so little and Sam is out all day on the farm.
‘He seems to really enjoy the runs – he’s happy back there talking to himself most of the time, and of course the fresh air makes him sleepy, which is a bonus.
‘We just think it’s healthy to get him outside as much as possible.’
Anna said the idea for the charity trek came from a TV programme.
She said: ‘I was watching 71 Degrees North, and that got me thinking – dog sledding was the kind of thing I’ve always wanted to do.
‘Being married to Sam, everything we do revolves around the countryside.
‘We’ve always been associated with the Countryside Alliance, and the foundation is something that I’m pretty passionate about, so when I heard about this, it was ideal.’
Anna will be joined next month on the adventure across the Finnmark region of Norway by her old agricultural college friend, Fran Elson, who now lives in the south of France.
‘When I first called her to suggest it, we said we’d think about it, but then she called me back and said she had already filled in the application form,’ she said.
The temperature on the trip is expected to drop well below freezing, and living conditions en-route will be basic as they sled for up to eight hours each day.
‘We’re assigned six dogs and they will be our own responsibility throughout the entire trip,’ she added.
‘The care of the dogs must always come first, and any uphill incline or soft snow will force us to run and push the sled to help the dogs.
And although she has to leave Henry behind, he’ll be safe in his dad’s hands: ‘Sam’s taking that week off, so he’s going to look after Henry, but it will be tough leaving them behind,’ said Anna. ‘Everyone’s been really supportive so far.
‘On the first day when we arrive we get a massive crash course in all the procedures – basically you’ve just got to hold on or the dogs will go without you.’
The foundation aims to promote the conservation, protection and improvement of the environment as well as promoting agriculture for public benefit.
Between them the pair hope to raise £10,000. To support their bid go to doingitforthecountryside.co.uk