The short story is in the next paragraph, for those who want more it be worth getting a cup of tea before reading my thoughts on the challenge!!!!
Well, the “15 Peaks Challenge” certainly lived up to its name this year and the 80 participants (11 teams) all discovered and conquered very different challenges through the day. A few days later, it is much easier to gain a perspective. (For those who do not want to read it all….we did well until third section, had a major incident (lucky to be alive!) and retired through bad weather, gutted not to finish but no regrets at stopping when we did!)
For those who would like to read the detail
Saturday morning the teams gathered at the start point and “Stuck in First Gear” left on the nail at 4am. The weather was windy and there was a low cloud base so visibility was poor and the air was damp. This year the mountains were not so busy and our teams were the only ones around at this time of the morning!! Our team (James, Kate and myself) kept an ok time for the first section and arrived in the checkpoint 1 just after 8am. Considering the visibility we were pleased with the time. Just a ten minute stop and it was section 2…the toughest on the challenge.
Elidir Fawr is my nightmare mountain but we managed to get up ok and found ourselves in worse visibility than before, down to about 10 feet with the odd respite. We made slow going but were still on course for completing the event in under 19 hours. Half way through this section the clouds cleared and we had beautiful clear skies and bright sunshine until descending Tryfan the last mountain, were we had our first showers of the day, and entered the 2nd checkpoint at 5pm. We were pleased but needed a while to prepare for the last leg of the challenge. At 5.35pm we set off to take on the steep side of Pen-y-Olwen. The weather was starting to cool and the wind that we had enjoyed all day began to pick up. Within an hour and half way up the wind became gale force and the rain was incessant. As you can imagine, the challenge was set before us and it was here that we appreciated our training and having the right equipment. We dug in and despite being cold and wet gritted our teeth…..when it all turned…….I managed to fall in quite a dramatic way about 30 foot down the mountain. This area has large rocks and heather…not the place to fall. My team were petrified whilst I feared for my life. My fall was halted by my bag holding between 2 rocks, 2 feet further and I would have been over a ledge which would have seen me tumble at least 100ft onto rocks. Most fortunate and the only injury was bruising on my side, which looks impressive!!
We completed the mountain eventually and at the top the wind and rain was intense. We were cold wet and battle scarred and took the decision to come off the mountain, joining a number of other teams making the same decision. It was the right decision and we have no regrets and feel blessed to still be alive.
I would like to say a huge thank you to all those who supported me in any way. It is a great event and a real challenge for any person. For me the greatest challenge was deciding to retire at the right time. It was a tough decision but recognising your own limitations is so important.
Well here ends the novel of the event, hope that you enjoyed reading