Recently I took a jog down from the wild, wet and windy hills to have a go at climbing some ‘virtual’ mountains in the comfort of a popular gym. The idea was to get people who might not have easy access to the hills involved in challenging themselves by having a go at climbing the equivalent of a mountain indoors of their favourite piece of gym equipment.
As an outdoor fanatic, it is not often that I choose to workout in a gym, but as 1 in 7 people in the UK are now members of a gym they are popular places for many people to fit in fitness and strength exercising around the busy demands of daily life.
Despite being technically ‘rest days’ I decided to get involved and have a go at my own ‘Virtual’ Mountain choosing the biggest of all for my summit attempt…..a virtual Everest! This involved over 12 hours on an elevated treadmill to gain the height required to reach the summit and covered over 64km of distance. Not a bad idea for a rest day, i thought, and despite being the biggest elevation gain I have ever made in one day it didn’t even count towards the Running the Summits 1000 Mountains! At least I didn’t have to run back down again though.
There were mountains for all levels of ability starting with the virtual local Pendle Hill up to a virtual Ben Nevis, the highest UK summit. Some determined attempts were undertaken to climb Ben Nevis on the Stairmaster, arguably the toughest way to complete the challenge – a whopping 369 floors – for which was set a very impressive 54 minute 47 second record. Certainly not something I could match!
In fact, I think Kudos with a capital K should definitely go out to all those who took on the challenge as climbing virtual mountains is no easy feat – fair enough, you don’t have to descend high summits at the end of the day, do battle with the elements and can even take a tea and flapjack break part way through ( wait a minute – you can definitely do THAT on a real mountain too!). But joking aside, the repetitive nature of cardio machines, lack of stimulating mountain scenery and constantly varying terrain make indoor mountain climbing as much of a mental challenge as a physical one.
The event was also a successful fundraiser for the Running the Summits causes and it was fantastic that some Mountain Rescue handlers and their Search Dogs came along to get involved and talk about their work. The dogs were very happy to line up for cuddles and belly rubs and proved very popular with visitors.
A fundraising raffle was held which was well supported by outdoor businesses as well as local venues who donated some cracking prizes and after a great weekend of Mountain Madness and plenty of flapjack a total of £725.31 had been raised.
I am hugely grateful to everyone who supported, came along to watch or got involved in this event and hope to take it to other venues in the future. Keep an eye out for a Virtual Mountain Challenge Event near you! I promise, it’s not as tough as it sounds.👍