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Dan and Matt’s Three Peaks Challenge for Mind Brighton & Hove

By Dan Simpson

Both Matt and I trained for this challenge months in advance.  Surely it would be sufficient to go jogging in the evening, walk up a few steep hills, trek over the beautiful south downs…? 

For me, all of that training was great – I hadn’t been this fit in years!  But in actual fact, all of this was nowhere near enough.  This challenge was by far the most physically and emotionally draining thing I had ever undertaken.  I hadn’t appreciated until our initial safety briefing that we were going to be trekking 50% faster than the norm in order to summit the Three Peaks within the anticipated 24 hours. 

Each of the Peaks had their own unique challenges – Ben Nevis was a massive shock to the system, a seemingly never ending winding trek that got steeper with every turn, admittedly looking over the beautiful Scottish scenery, but gruelling nevertheless.  I took off at too quick a pace to start with and by half way I paid the price – my legs were no longer functioning as they should have done (ie one moving in front of the other in a step like motion) and had to stop and recover for a while wondering if I could actually go on.  Somehow I found the mental strength and together with some wine gums, was enough to help me push on.  Matt and I both reached the summit together with ten minutes to spare before we would have been forced to turn around.  We had a couple of minutes for a few photos before our speed descent.

We arrived at Scafell Pike at around 9.30 at night.  The team leader asked if everyone was going to give the Second Peak a try and whilst my mouth didn’t utter any words of negativity my mind was saying otherwise.  It was pretty much pitch black – and the driving rain made life very uncomfortable for the next four hours or so.  This was a very tricky climb going from one slippery loose boulder to the next, and with each painful stride we were wondering if our essential head torches would fail with water damage which would result in taking these steps in the dark.  In fact we discovered later that Matt’s phone did take on water and even a bowl of rice didn’t save it from the inevitable.  So, no photos from this Peak – only memories (which I have been trying to push to the back of my mind!).

The travelling between the Peaks was delayed due to the weather and other unforeseen circumstances so we didn’t arrive at Snowdon until daylight the following morning.  A four hour trek up the Pyg Track and back down the Llanberis path was ahead of us in wet socks and boots that didn’t get an opportunity to dry on the coach.  With the daylight however came a new lease of life and a desire to finish the third Peak.  The weather started off surprisingly dry and clear but took a turn for the worse – with gale force winds and horizontal rain hitting us from the other side of the mountain as soon as we were 30 minutes from the top.  Due to this change in the weather, only one photo was taken at the summit before trying to escape back down. 

Matt’s official time was less than 23 hours and mine was 23 hours and 40 minutes – both within the 24 hour cut-off.  Bodies and minds felt completely shattered but we were delighted to have reached our goal.  We raised between us over £2,200 for MIND in Brighton and Hove and, for both of us, it was the thought of not letting our supporters down that kept us going.

There’s still time to donate, please do so via this link

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hartley-fowler-llp1

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