Having competed in a couple of ‘Tough Mudders’ and a variety of other physical events, I have a level of confidence in my abilities. However when I decided to compete in the 2015 ‘Man vs. Mountain’ challenge I knew I was taking things to another level.
Twenty two miles of rugged terrain, including 13 miles of near constant climbing from the start at Caernarfon Castle to the summit of Mount Snowdon.
We were warned to expect temperatures of -3°c at the summit and high winds of up to 30mph, so this wasn’t a challenge to be taken lightly.
With that in mind I approached the team at Abta Lifeline wanting to find a cause I could support on the day, which would give me an added focus and drive to get myself to the finish line.
In our very first conversation we discussed the story of Mia Austin, a Co-op Travel agent who just five years ago at the age of 21 had a life changing stroke which left her suffering from Locked-in Syndrome.
Abta Lifeline had played a big role in supporting Mia back in 2010, but it felt like the right time to remind people that Mia’s plight was still ongoing, and she still very much needed the help of the travel industry she was a part of.
And so it was decided – I was running a ‘Mountain for Mia’.
On the day of the challenge it was decidedly cold; it certainly wasn’t lost on me that the bulk of spectators were in ski-wear as I lined up in my running kit. Yet once the challenge commenced and the incline became noticeable, there was no danger of being cold.
We covered the first 11 miles in just shy of two and a half hours, feeling strong and buoyed by our unexpected pace; however our feel-good factor evaporated as we started to brutal assent of Snowdon.
For around an hour and twenty minutes we climbed the two miles to the peak of Snowdon, zig-zagging across the steep slopes, scrambling across scree and uneven surfaces.
Fellow competitors littered the sides of the narrow path, struggling with cramp, and probably like us wondering when we would finally reach the summit – it often felt like it wasn’t getting closer.
Yet at half past midday we reached the summit, thirteen miles under our belts, a further nine to go as we raced back down the mountain to the finish line in Llanberis.
At the 19 mile mark we took on the ‘Vertical Kilometre’, a stretch of the course where for every four metres you ran you ascended a metre in height. Tough at the best of times, but with 90% of the course behind us it took a significant effort to drag ourselves up the climb.
Through the final mile we leapt into a quarry full of freezing water, and swam lakes, before climbing two metre high walls in the final 100m – the organisers just ensuring we left nothing out on the course.
It was a fantastic physical challenge and a great personal achievement, but more importantly it meant we would be donating close to £7,000 towards Mia’s cause. I couldn’t be prouder to have helped.
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