When The Struggle Is Worth It

August 16th, 2019

The Three Peaks Challenge was the hardest physical challenge I have ever done in my life. OMG!

Inspired by my friend Tasha Anderson, I booked the challenge on the 3rd of August 2019. My thoughts were that August is usually nice and warm, and it was. We were very lucky with the weather. It was sunny and warm but not too hot with a few light showers at night while climbing Scafell Pike. To be honest, at that point I didn’t really care what was falling from the sky 😂.

For those who don’t know, the National Three Peaks Challenge is an event in which participants attempt to climb the highest mountains of England, Scotland, and Wales within 24 hours. This event is frequently used to raise money for charitable organisations and in my case, I was raising money for Vita Canis Style to Rescue. I’m happy to report I raised £840.

Thank you to all who supported me!!

So during the challenge, the walkers climb each peak in turn and are driven from the foot of one mountain to the next. According to Wikipedia, the total distance walked is estimated at 42 – 44 kilometers (26 – 27 miles) with a total ascent of 9800 feet (3000m). To be honest it felt more like a zillion km!

I prepared for the challenge by running, training at the gym, exercising at home and I thought I was pretty well prepared as I’m an active person anyway. Well… I needed to train harder. I actually needed to go out into the mountains and train there as the road run and gym equipment do NOT prepare you for the uneven surface, slippery rocks, and crumbling gravel. At least I know this for next time.

The first mountain we climbed was Ben Nevis (1345m) in Scotland. I could see the mountain from my B&B window and was thinking to myself… gosh, I’ll be there tomorrow.

We started the morning with a meeting at 8 am at the train station at Fort William. The mountain leaders introduced themselves, the whole process and itinerary was explained and our equipment was checked. When you sign up, you get a list of equipment you must have, like a head torch, hiking shoes, water, hat and gloves, and waterproofs – as the weather in mountains can change quickly.

The coaches then took us to the bottom of the Ben Nevis and off we went. I really enjoyed Ben Nevis, the sun was shining, the view was amazing and I didn’t know how but I went up pretty fast and ended up at the top with the first group – the fast guys 😀. I was well chuffed and thought this challenge wouldn’t be as hard as I thought. How wrong I was!!

When we got back to the bus, coffee, tea, and cakes were waiting for us and after a quick change and stretching, we were heading to England to climb Scafell Pike in Lake district. The 6-7 hour journey didn’t help my muscles. My legs became stiff, my feet began to swell and my back was hurting from sitting. I then got so angry with myself because I left my roller and my muscle pain-relieving gel in my suitcase in the trailer 🙈.

We got to Scafell Pike just before 10 pm, and it was already dark. My legs weren’t moving as easily as before but I thought I’d be able to shake it off and that with more walking they would loosen up. Another mistake… they didn’t loosen up and the walking didn’t become easier but, in actual fact, harder. I tried to keep up with the fast guys but I couldn’t, tried to convince myself… you can do it… mind over body… one step at the time…quitters never win… winners never quit… and other mantras and self-talk of which some I can’t publish 🤣. Well, I didn’t quit. I was just told to take a break and wait for the 3rd group. I gratefully accepted and I enjoyed the 10 minutes sitting in pitch black dark on the mountain, in complete silence. Tasha told me it would be magical, and it was ✨.

I had thought that Scafell Pike would be the easiest one as it was the smallest. Another mistake! Already tired after Ben Nevis, with no sleep, except dosing off on the bus and then walking up steep rocks in the middle of the night for 2 hours is NOT what I would call easy.

We had warm porridge and drinks waiting for us at the bottom of Scafell Pike and then and we were driven to the last (YAY!) challenge, the Snowden in Wales. We got there at about 7 am. Did I, at this point, feel like walking anywhere at all never mind climbing another mountain? NO, AND NO, but off we set towards Snowden top.

At about 20min from the mountain top, our group was turned around as we were running out of time which was frustrating as the last bit seemed pretty flat. I was disappointed, but on the other hand, was glad it was over. At this point, even walking downhill was a challenge and I was ever so grateful to my two new friends, the faithful walking sticks, who stood by my side the whole time. I will never forget you ❤︎!

The recovery after the challenge took a few days and I used everything I could to ease the muscle pain: the roller, essential oils, tuning forks, massage… and it did work I must say.
I’m so glad I did it and now, fully recovered, I know I will do it again to improve my time.

If you’d like to join me next year, that would be great!!

Here’s some advice for those who would like to do it:

⛰ If you think you’ve trained enough, think again and train harder.
⛰ Do as much hiking as possible and get yourself comfortable on rocky roads and paths.
⛰ Get walking sticks!
⛰ Get a really, REALLY powerful head torch.
⛰ Take salty and sour snacks as well as sweet ones. I was sick of sweets by the end of the challenge!
⛰ Get a good-quality camel bag. Mine broke so I was given a 2l plastic water bottle which kept falling down from my rucksack, adding to my frustration.

In conclusion… if you want to do the challenge just do it!! I don’t regret it for a second and it was one of the most incredible, unforgettable experiences!

Jitka xx

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