Wednesday 31st May 2017
The hard yards.
The four members of the full challenge team were Karl Rushen (middle right), Paul Southernwood (far right), Scott Wealthall (middle left) and Caria Ammerlaan (not pictured) – the Challenge was to run, tab and cycle 100 Peaks in the UK, all above 610m (2000ft) – approx. 45 in Scotland, 25 in England (The Lake District), 1 on the Isle of Man and 29 in Wales (Snowdonia & The Brecon Beacons) – full details on the challenge can be found on the website HERE
I’d never met Karl before the night of the 30th. I’d read about his ‘deeds of daring do’ on AEE Website and followed him training on Strava. The team arrived at the campsite in Glentrool after yet another monumental day’s ride through the hills of South West Scotland on Day 8. They all looked knackered but so ridiculously fit!!! I was starting to worry – for me Day 9 was looming with these ninjas!!!!
That evening and night the campsite was inundated with midges – it was impossible to sleep. After pitching my tent we had dinner and then set about trying to get some sleep.
I got up at 5am ….. I’d been asleep for about an hour in total through the night.
Team Driver and Team Manager, James and Gadge drove us to the beginning of the days Tab and we were off!!
My worst fears became a reality as it became evident at the top of the first hill that I was way out of my depth – these guys were unreal! both in terms of fitness – both physical and mental. Sunday’s Edinburgh Half Marathon hadn’t helped either.
Once up the first hill (700m elev), which was scrambling and climbing we didn’t stop very long and pushed on to the next peak (780m) – by this point I was dragging and struggling to keep up. Karl and Scott pushed on, followed by Paul and Caria and finally me. I was seriously beginning to worry, I knew I was out of my depth but I tried my hardest to keep up. As we approached the third hill of the day – Merrick (approx 800m elev) I was done! Paul, I think, spotting that I was struggling and called back to see if I was OK – I wasn’t! He called back down to me – something that I’ll never forgot and will be forever grateful of. He said “Get to the top, I will wait for you – I WILL NOT LEAVE YOU!” This selfless act on Paul’s part is something I will always be eternally grateful to Paul for. I 100% understand the others pushing on – they had to!!! That was the mission, the goal and the challenge – I felt bad because I felt like I’d let the team down and put the challenge in jeopardy.
I climbed, slowly until I finally reached the top of Merrick. Paul was waiting for me – not angry (which he had every right to be) he did’t make me feel stupid (which again he’d have every right to), he simply told me to sit down, get some food inside of me and enjoy the view.
Once re-fulelled Paul and I made our way down, slowly to the RV point for the exfil. I was tired, both physically and mentally but I have to say, I really enjoyed the Tab down from Merrick. Paul had taken care of the Nav and we had been aiming for a white Bothy in the distance which was the agreed RV point.
We RV’d about 90 mins later with Karl, Scott and the rest of the amazing 100peaks team (it’s James’ fault that now I have Pavlovic response to craving a choc-ice after every endurance event now!).
Karl and Scott cut the day short (mainly because, I think, I held the team back for so long on hill 1) but planned to return the next day (a scheduled rest day!!! – says everything you need to know about these guys!) to finish off the hills we didn’t Tab. These ARE the most amazing people.
A massive thank you to Karl for letting me join this monumental. poignant and legendary challenge (even for just one day!). I may never really get a proper chance to thank everyone involved with my day with the 100Peaks Team but everyone was AMAZING. Special thanks Theresa and Lesley for looking after me – everyone was very welcoming, patient and encouraging – true legends!
PS : Paul – if you do ever read this – THANKS FOR NOT LEAVING ME ON THAT HILL!
PPS : Karl – if you do ever read this – THANK FOR BEING AN INSPIRATION!