I have done a wide range of weird and wacky things to raise funds for SAFE@LAST but I have to say the Yorkshire Three Peaks was the hardest thing I’ve done! I’ve slept rough in car parks all over South Yorkshire on numerous occasions, taken part in an adventure challenge which involved wading through the lake in Rother Valley, dressed up as the charity mascot, walking in the Sheffield Pride parade in the boiling heat and even trekked across the Sahara desert for a week. I have to say none of this, not even the Sahara, had prepared me for such a tough physical and mental challenge!
I joined 22 others trekkers, including fellow JCI Sheffield Director Chrissie Lewis and several support volunteers at our rendez vous point at 6:30am on Saturday 18th July. On the car journey on the way over (setting off at 5:25am!), Chrissie and I vowed that we would complete the whole chal– lenge – all three Yorkshire peaks, even if we didn’t do it within the 12 hour target.
The weather was extremely mixed ranging from what felt like gale force winds, which was tough walking head on, rain, hailstones, cold and then sun! My legs felt like they were that of a lego man and that they were coming away from and out of my body and needed to be pushed back in! I was reassured when several other trekkers agreed that they felt the same!
After conquering two peaks in 8.5 hours, several of the charity sup– port volunteers and one of the guides said to me of course it was my decision if I attempted the third and final peak, but that they could tell I looked in pain, discomfort and exhausted. After changing my walk– ing socks for the third time of the day and catching my breath with a cuppa and another chocolate bar, I thought to myself ‘I’ve started, so I will finish’, determined to conquer the final peak and joking to the team that it may take me until the Wednesday to get back, but I would do it!
So off I went! At this point, I was the very last in the SAFE@LAST group so had a guide and his dog walking with me as it was their job to be at the back to make sure everyone got back in one piece!
One of the strategies that got me through my 13.5 hours walk, was counting steps…sometimes on rocks I counted up to ten then repeated…on other more difficult terrain, I counted steps to my age 35…at other times, I joked in my head repeating Dory’s mantra ‘just keep swimming’ and all the way, determined to get to the end! I also thought about the vulnerable children that SAFE@LAST support and how the money I raised would have such an impact and literally save childrens lives.
The last couple of miles was the worst. I welled up and almost started crying a few times with the pain, frustration of still not being at the end. I am so glad to say that I eventually did it!
When I reached the end, alot of the other trekkers and support team (with over a 2 hour journey home) had already gone, but I was greeted back to where I started by a group including SAFE@ LAST founder trustee and fellow walker Hilary Massarella, my work colleague Tracy Haycox and her husband and of course Chrissie Lewis which was the tonic and welcome I really needed! Hats off to Chrissie for completing the challenge in 10 hours! Absolutely amazing!
Writing this two days later after completing the challenge, my legs are still sore, my femurs ache (!) but the sense of achievement is overwhelming. Thank you to everyone who supported me wheth- er by sponsoring me, encouraging me or recommending remedies to help with a very sore body! Thank you to my fellow JCI mate Chrissie for doing the challenge too. Between us, we’ve raised over £350! If you still want to support us but just not got round to it, our fundraising pages are still open http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MarkSmith
If you fancy joining the SAFE@LAST Challenge Club, find out more here.
This article appeared in our August online magazine edition of ‘Steel City News’ – read more here.
2015 JCI Sheffield President
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Mark Smith