So it felt like time for a Gallon update, it’s been 18 months since myself and @Hollywood rolled into a sports centre to sign up for the inaugural MvF football season. Rolled being the operative word at a combined weight of 37 stone!
Well this week saw us set off on a challenge many wouldn’t even consider. While I struggled to walk a mile at the end of 2015 and a game of football resulted in a limp for 3 days Wednesday saw us set off to complete the 3 peaks challenge 12 stone lighter.
For those not familiar with the challenge, you aim to climb the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales all in 24 hours. Add in to the mix the 7 hour drive before you start and 13 hours of driving between them you have one hell of a tough time ahead. It felt like a great way to celebrate being at our goal weight for 12 months (almost) and to prove what a difference we have made in our lives.
By all means stop reading now, for prosperity I’m going to wallow in self indulgence and do a mini write up of how it went.
7am Wednesday - Set off from Birmingham on the 7 hour drive to Fort William in Scotland.
5pm Wednesday we start the accent of our first mountain, Ben Nevis the highest peak in the UK at 1345. The weather was kind, our fitness was good and and we reached the top in 2 hours 42 minutes. Given that we were well within our time allocated we sat down for a sandwich and enjoyed the view.
The decent was at a good rate, the sun setting behind us and the reminder that while gravity had so long been our enemy it was very much on our side. Back to the car in 2 hours 20 minutes meant we’d made up some time on the 5 hours we were allowed. Our designated driver set off on the near 6 hour drive to the lake district as we settled down to try and get some sleep.
3.44am Thursday after some force fed breakfast and a search for a head torch we set off for mountain number 2, the smallest at 978m but what we were reliably informed was the toughest - Scafell Pike. The picture below was taken after 40 minutes before it all changed and the mountain hit back.
This was the last photo as we were hit by torrential rain and horrendous wind. What was a brutal climb in perfect conditions was far from it with wet pants and soggy socks as bed fellows. For anybody who has climbed Scafell you will know that the last half a mile is over loose (wet) boulders which drains every ounce of energy you have. After what seemed like a hundred false peaks we finally reached the summit, and turned around straight away to head back down! We estimated this at 2 hours 35 but we didn’t dare waterlog our watches!
While the climb seemed tough, the decent was worse. Gravity reminded us that taking it for granted was foolish, I slipped twice and my no longer ample rear took the full force. Every step was carefully made and both of us agreed that the best word to describe the whole experience was “brutal”.
Walking down the road to the car I’d made my decision, I couldn’t continue. My hip ached, my knee was twice the normal size and both calves were cramping from the cold. My only decision now was how to broach the subject with @Hollywood. As I stopped off in the grottiest toilets in all of England, wringing out my socks I reflected on all the people I’ve met through MvF and how this challenge wasn’t just for me. It was for everybody trying to make a difference and how could I quit without giving it my all. On reflection this may have just been the dry pants, but Ben admitted half way up Snowdon that if I’d suggested quitting at that point he wouldn’t of put up much of a fight.
So at 8.20, a little behind time was set off to tackle our final hurdle in North Wales.
Thursday 13.45 we’re finally ready to start the last peak. Unfortunately an accident on the M6 had put us considerably behind our target set off time. While at 100% we may of got up and down Snowdon (1085m) in 3 hours 15 we both accepted that in our bruised and battered bodies this was highly unlikely. The first 100m of Snowdon was a realisation that 33 years of being morbidly obese had left my joints considerably weakened. The first 2 peaks had taken their toll and I was not ready for the final one.
Luckily, the weather was back on our side and the views are amazing. The busiest peak gave me plenty of smiling faces on the way and I ticked off the miles one at a time.
The last half a mile of the accent was tough as the wind was strong (40mph) and we were drained but we were up in 2 hours 20 and settled down for a sandwich. Unfortunately this was our view from the final peak.
Ben suggested running down to hit the 24 hour deadline but I took it as a joke (knowing him it probably wasnt) and we started our decent. I fought through what was quite a lot of pain, taking advantage of the flatter parts to make up the time and before we knew it the finish line was in sight. I pulled together every last ounce of energy to put in a last burst to the finish line.
Some stats for you:
Total accent: 3408
Miles driven - 1003
Miles walked - 22
Falls - 2
Carbs consumed - 8427 (guess)
Water drank - 9 litres (plus 7 ltrs of rain)
Hero’s - 1 (designated drive, our Mom Alison)
Chance of doing it again - 0
So for anybody still reading, anything is possible, it doesn’t matter if your goal is to beat diabetes, climb Everest or just drop a jean size you CAN do it.
Last but not least, thanks @admin for being the catalyst. Quick to pass on credit to us but truly without MvF we would still be contemplating a different mountain.