Kaan on the 2001 Odyssey for M.E.

Summary     |     Pages from the 2001 Odyssey for M.E. website

See also www.kyzyltekes.co.uk

   

 
During 2001, Kaan was selected as the lynchpin for the 2001 Odyssey for M.E., a long distance six-week UK ride from Lulworth Cove on the Dorset coast to Edinburgh. Over 14,000 were raised for research into the serious medical condition M.E. and Kaan was provided the opportunity to show his mettle on a distance of over 400 miles.

Kaan was ridden by a wide range of riders along the way and when on show at public events. There were people with M.E., enthusiastic amateurs and some professionals well-known in the UK, including

         
Dr Stephanie Cook, the Royal Crescent, Bath Dr Stephanie Cook
(Olympic Champion 2000 and World Champion 2001, Modern Pentathlon)
Photograph ©2001 Bath Chronicle
Alison Dawes
(former Olympic showjumper, and twice winner of the Hickstead Derby and the Queen's Cup)
Alison Dawes at Hereford
George Duffield
(Britain's senior
flat-race jockey)
George Duffield at Haydock Park Brough Scott at Lulworth Cove Brough Scott
(sports journalist, television presenter and former jockey)
2001 Odyssey for M.E. visit to Lulworth Cove courtesy of Lulworth Castle Estate
Photograph ©2001 Sue Alexander
and

Peter Scudamore at Chepstow
Peter Scudamore
(TV presenter and former Champion National Hunt Jockey).

2001 was, of course, the year when the vast majority of the British countryside came to a standstill as a result of the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, and the Odyssey did not escape the havoc. One of the first reported outbreaks away from the north of England was in Herefordshire: Kaan was living within the exclusion zone and was effectively grounded just four days before he was due to leave for the south coast. As the outbreaks spread, they did so along almost all of the original route north of Bristol: Herefordshire, mid-Wales, north Yorkshire, the Lake District and on into Dumfries and Galloway - the intended finale to the ride was to have been on Scottish Cup day at Ayr Racecourse.

Six months later, however, as much of the countryside was re-opening, the whole project had been rescheduled, new riders and support drivers recruited, overnight accommodation rearranged, public appearances re-negotiated and almost the entire route re-mapped to avoid bridleways and open country, and Kaan and the team set off by road for first an appearance at the Akhal-Teke showing at Bristol's Horseworld before driving on to Lulworth Cove for the departure, set for the 22nd August 2001.

Horseworld, Bristol
At Horseworld, Bristol
 
Leaving Lulworth Cove
Leaving Lulworth Cove
2001 Odyssey for M.E. visit to Lulworth Cove courtesy of Lulworth Castle Estate
Photograph ©2001 Sue Alexander

Kaan was full of life and energy from beginning to end (more than can be said for some of the riders!). But one of the biggest concerns for the organisers was how to cross the remaining areas where livestock movement was still restricted. In the mid-Wales Marches, some short sections had to be covered with Kaan in the box (these were later covered on horesback for the sake of completeness) but the biggest problem was the north of England. The team watched and hoped as restrictions were lifted around the country but the closer they approached, the less likely it seemed this area of the countryside would be cleared in time. So a ride in the trailer became inevitable and Yorkshire would be lost. The aim was then a clear run from South Tynedale, picking up the route again at Allenheads and so up to the Scottish Border at Kielder. But foot-and-mouth's affinity for all things Odyssey wasn't over. As the team was entering the north of England, there were new outbreaks south of Hexham (i.e. in Allendale) and restrictions were very soon in place right up to Kielder.

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With the Scottish border still the ultimate target, options were shrivelling away and there was only one place left - the corner of north-east Northumberland around Berwick. But then, with a burst of concerted effort, the luck was at last dragged in the Odyssey's favour. Theoretically north east Northumberland could be ridden but it would be with little in the way of welcome. The Lammermuir Hills, however, north of the border, were open. With so much of the upper route lost, the team took the brave step of resuming the ride on a brand new course: from Berwick town centre, then on towards Edinburgh, including a parade along the Royal Mile with completion in the grounds of Edinburgh Castle.

On the Lammermuir Hills
On the Lammermuir Hills
 
Journey's End
Journey's End

The end of the ride had been reached in style, but Kaan had more to do. That night he slept in No 46, Aintree Racecourse - Red Rum's famous stable - and the next day he was being ridden down the course for the public at Haydock Park by George Duffield. On Wednesday he was at Hereford racecourse under the guidance of Alison Dawes, and on the Saturday at Chepstow with Peter Scudamore.

Throughout the ride, participants and supporters contributed to the Odyssey website's Ride Log, and a copy of this is now available at this website, as are many of the photographs taken along the way.

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