Returning home, after a good scrub, some clean clothes, a giant dinner of comfort food and finally putting my feet up I can only now begin to digest the experience of the last 19 days and 18 hours!
People have suggested I must be feeling ecstatic, euphoric, celebratory and proud but to be honest I am currently feeling a strange sense of calm – an inner peace almost with the relief that I reached my goal and completed the challenge, tinged with a little melancholy that despite the comfort of a warm, dry, cosy bed right now I am no longer on the trail, no longer immersed in the simple act of just keeping moving forward. And despite the foibles of what the weather has been throwing at me I already miss being at its mercy and breathing those deep lungfuls of fresh air.
Big weather ahead!
Don’t get me wrong I am very much enjoying this reflective mood, the whole journey has been such a whirlwind of activity that it is lovely now to just stop and relive each day in my mind.
Serene moments up in the clouds!
It does seem like a very long time ago when I was bounding up Snowdon feeling very energetic and strong, I remember wishing that I would feel in such good shape every day but just two long days later I was so exhausted and creaking, my feet red, rubbed and blistered, the worry that I might not be up to this challenge sneaked into the corner of my mind. In the evenings I could barely walk and waking up was even worse but slowly, gradually, my body seemed to get with the programme and each day I began to feel stronger. I still hobbled about like an old woman in the morning but I knew that so long as I didn’t make any sudden movements and made sure to warm up slowly, soon the engine would be humming and I could complete another day on the trail. I also attributed this recovery to the practice of a good, long stretching sesh at the end of each day and the speedy intake of some protein, generally in the form of a shake and/or protein bar kindly supplied to me by the guys at Clif Bar and MountainFuel.co.uk , thanks guys – life savers! I think I have eaten more protein in the last two weeks than I normally would in about 6 months! I’m also quite impressed with my newly defined quads!
Hmmmmm…chocolate or strawberry, chocolate or strawberry….?
Day by day was quite a rollercoaster and I never really knew when I set off how the day would pan out, sometimes easier, sometimes tough. At times my backpack would feel comfy and light and at other times I would be swearing profusely at the very same pack and kicking it unceremoniously into the undergrowth. Some days I chatted with lots of different people , occasional days I actually saw no one at all.
Bivvys, Bothies and Bunkhouses!
Towards the final days my legs started to rebel with shin splints, unusual spreading aches, sore tendons and tender heels which created a whole new challenge for my mind – to handle the frustration and fear of being thwarted at such a late stage. I was also a bit suspicious that somehow these physical manifestations may have been directly linked psychologically to the fact that I was so near the end, my mind and body now conspiring against me….ggrrrr!
Times of trail running pristine perfection!
Even on the final morning I was unsure if I would complete the challenge or have to be satisfied with a ‘2andAhalfPeAksRun’ ( which just doesn’t have the same ring to it does it?!) given the daunting weather conditions on Ben Nevis but I decided to set off and see how far I could get. In the end the fact that I was super over prepared ( gps, back up gps, two maps, compass, recent Mountain skills training course fresh in my mind (thanks Carol Emmons) and even the correct bearings to find the way off the summit in total whiteout!) gave me the confidence to keep plodding on through the brutally buffeting wind and lashing rain slicing like shards of glass against my cheeks, divining each cairn shrouded in the swirling cloud to reach the very top which was a genuinely exhaltant, if cold and wet, moment.
Jubilant spirits heading into Glencoe!
The highest mountain in Britain reached all the way on foot from the highest mountain in Wales with a little evening jog over the highest English mountain on route….the ‘3PeAksRun’ in the bag! All that remained was to get down off this majestic wintery rock without breaking my ankle and we could call it a wrap! (I did slip over three times on the wet rocks of the descent, my trail shoes by now split, worn almost smooth and held together with some gaffa tape…not advisable!)
A wee soggy traildog, Patch, and I made it to the warmth and welcome of Glen Nevis Youth Hostel wet, tired, hungry and dirty but very very content….the perfect end to any adventure!
One soppy Patch Puppy ( he’d definitely be shivering if he had a central nervous system!)
One of the best parts of this adventure has been the incredible people I have met or been in touch with along the way. I have been so touched by the kindness and support of those who have come out to meet me, run along with me, brought flapjack or cake or posted endless encouragement via the social media pages. Your support, encouragement and advice has brightened dull days and motivated me throughout. I met many lovely people along the way too who despite being in the midst of their own adventures took my challenge to heart.
Although this was technically an ‘ unsupported’ challenge in that I was without a support crew to take care of logistics and be on hand along the way I have actually received massive amounts of support by all those who have followed and shared this adventure and I bow to you all with a huge THANK YOU and boundless gratitude.
Patch having a bit of Search Dog bonding time with the lovely Tess!
Massive Thank Yous toos! to everyone who has donated so far to the Mountain Rescue Teams, Search and Rescue Dog Association England and FixtheFells whom the #3PeAksRun is supporting. I am now over two thirds of the way to my fundraising target and will continue to try to reach it ( My fourth mountain, if you will!). Please help if you can by donating a little here at my VirginMoneyGivingPage
EVERY PENNY DONATED GOES DIRECTLY TO THESE WORTHY CAUSES!
Patch and I are now enjoying some serious shut eye…..see you later 👣🐾
Woohoo.. i am totally thrilled that my little run was deemed interesting/ insane enough (delete as applicable) to be chosen as one of the 2017 Next Challenge Grant winners. This is a fantastic initiative by award winning adventurer and Guinness World Record holder Tim Moss who has completed many expeditions from mountaineering to round the world cycling.
The 3PeAksRun is entirely funded by myself so this grant is really helping me to meet some of those costs. I was already absolutely ecstatic to make it to the shortlist and enjoying a rucksack load of information from Tims’ website http://www.thenextchallenge.org aimed at encouraging people to live life more adventurously. You can find help, advice and articles on now to plan your next adventure whether it is a challenge of expedition proportions or taking the kids on their first wild camp. Want to get a comparison or review of the best camping mats or stoves? Or why merino wool is the best fabric choice if you want to avoid being too smelly on your adventure!?
Now in its third year the Next Challenge Grant is funded by Tim himself and other well known adventurers – big shout out to @AnnaMcNuff , without whom i wouldn’t even have been aware of this grant and to @EliseCDowning who has also been a big inspiration behind my 3PeAksRun! There is also a crowdfunding aspect with great support from the public making small £3 donations to help others realise their dreams. Huge huge thanks to everyone involved in supporting this grant!
Thinking of your own Next Adventure? Check out the website and start planning for 2018! Have a look at all this years winners here…
So , here it is….A route linking the highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales that covers 505 miles through Britain with 33,500 feet of uphill stuff (thats 808 km and nearly 11,000m to anyone under 30) and following 22 established great long distance footpaths, local trails or cycle routes to form what I think will be an epic trail run. My mission is simply to celebrate the very best of the Great British Outdoors, raising some money and awareness for the fantastic folk who work tirelessly to preserve these places, those who give their time to save lives and those who share their knowledge and skills to help others get the most out of their own outdoor adventures and maybe hug some rescue dogs……..oh , and to eat a lot of flapjack along the way….