Brent Yarina, BTN.com Senior Editor, August 27, 2012
How did Jim Delany get ready for the 2012-13 athletic year? The Big Ten commissioner climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in early August. Delany was part of a group of 10 people, led by 2003 Indiana grad Ben Jones, who reached the summit of the world's highest freestanding mountain Aug. 8. The group included Kevin Ash and Scott Jenkins from the Rose Bowl and Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky. All 10 members made it to the top under the ?Team Rose Bowl? banner.
Delany's group, pictured above: Front row, from left: Lisa Barrett, Cathy Ash, Lindsey McCrea, Ben Jones; back row, from left: Kevin Ash, Jon Barrett, John McCrea, Britton Banowsky, Jim Delany, Cindy Jenkins, Scott Jenkins
Q: How did an opportunity like this one come about?
A: It all started last January, at the Sugar Bowl, we mentioned the idea, and we said we were in. We started training. We had 10 people, six men and four women. We had a great leader in Ben Jones, who is from the Class of 2003 at Indiana. He had been to the top of Mount Everest and Mount Kilimanjaro. And all 10 of us made it to the top, which is pretty remarkable. We were 10 for 10.
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Q: That's great. What kind of training did you do to prepare for it?
A: We all went about training in our own ways. I got some trekking in May in Colorado, at 14,000 feet. I did stuff in Idaho in June and July. Each person had their own regiment based on where they lived. We did a lot of cardio and strengthening – did a lot of work at altitude and a lot of core work and balance work because you're on a lot of different surfaces. We did a lot of research and a lot preparation, both physical and mental, and everything worked out for us.
But it was very challenging. I think most people would say it was the most physically challenging thing they've done in their lives. But one or two women said child birth was more difficult, and I defer to them on that.
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Q: Did you get sick at all during the trip?
A: I was very fortunate, I did not get any sickness at all. I feel very fortunate. We stayed very hydrated – drank three to five liters of water a day – and ate 4 to 6,000 calories a day. The biggest thing is you can't sleep much at altitude. You almost rest as much as you sleep. I had good equipment, good guides, good weather, it all went great.
Q: Was everyone in your group as fortunate as you?
A: A couple of people did get upset stomachs, but they pushed through.
Q: Had you ever done anything like this before, and how did it compare?
A: This was different because it was voluntary. I would say the athletic training we did in college was difficult, but it wasn't seven days straight. This was voluntary, so it was very rewarding.
Q: What was the view like at the summit?
A: It was great. The east, where the sun rises, it was a cloudy day, so we didn't get to see East Africa from the top. But on the way down, it cleared up and we had better views out to the east and west.
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Q: Looking back on the trip, what was one of the best parts about it?
It was just a great experience. I never thought I'd do something like it. Having done it, I think it will encourage me to reach out more, whether it's another hike or something else. It's really fun to challenge yourself.
Q: The way you're talking about this, I assume you would recommend it to everyone?
A: I wouldn't be encouraging anyone to do something of this level. If this is you're kind of thing and you're up for training for it, I can tell you it's very rewarding. You also build so much camaraderie and so many friendships and relationships. And there are so many experiences that are shared. It's a great accomplishment.
Q: And no trip to Africa is complete without a safari. What kind wildlife did you see on yours?
A: We saw a lot of lions, lionesses, zebras, giraffes, hyena, gazelle, cheetah, elephants, ostrich, wild dog. We stayed in our safari jeeps and got a lot of great photographs and had a great chance to see a new part of the world.
Brent Yarina is a web editor and blogger for BTN.com. Find all of his work here and follow him on twitter at @BTNBrentYarina.