On June 27, four Royal Marines and I drove to the Lake District to compete in The 10 Peaks Challenge. The Challenge consisted of 10 peaks, 73km and 5600m of ascent – all within 24 hours. Due to traffic we arrived there at 1am Saturday morning; not ideal considering we were starting the event at 5am. So after 2 ½ hours sleep we got up, got our kit on and headed to the start line. Prior to the event I had done some training, mainly resistance but some Liss and Hiit training in the gym and the local hills. My maximum was approx. 14 miles per run – nothing in comparison to the 45 miles that was to come.
I was anxious – the event filled me with anxiety for weeks before. The fact that I was to jog alongside four Royal Marines was overwhelming and daunting. However as always Courage over doubt!
Helvellyn, the first peak nearly killed me. The boys went off at 100 miles an hour but I kept up. It took us 58 minutes, which was three times faster than I’d done before. I was close to pulling out by the third peak but dug in. Then by peak four, I started to see signs of fatigue in the others which picked me up a little as I began to realise that they were human too, which made me feel more positive.
By peak seven, Scaffell, it was more of a climb in comparison to the others and I was flying. We ascended Foxes Tarn and descended Lords Rake, a really enjoyable mountain but not for the faint hearted.
Peaks eight and nine, Great Gable and Pillar, really took their toll on the boys. One really inflamed knee, one really inflamed ankle and one stupendously chaffed undercarriage lowered morale. However up to this point, my Best man, Tom English and I were uninjured and feeling positive. After a ‘bit of scran’ at the Hollister Slate mine we were within reach of Skiddaw, the final peak. Just a quick 10 mile jog, then up Skiddaw, down and done. If only it was that simple!
We were set to complete the challenge in 21 hours – a respectable time. However due to fatigue and a lack of concentration we faltered and missed a turn, a turn that was to cost us three men and 2 ½ hours. When we got our bearings and descended back to the official route it was clear that the wounded would pull out. Skiddaw is not a mountain to play with injured and in the dark, after 20 hours of yomping, climbing & running.
Tom and I refuelled at the seventh checkpoint and teamed up with two others, an older gent called Jon – ‘an ultra distance runner’ and a northern chap whose name fails me. Jon was an amazing navigator which proved essential on Skiddaw. On the ascent we bonded quickly because the conditions and our fatigue meant one of us every few meters would need to sit or lay down to chomp on some more sugar and hydrate. When we reached the top we briefly celebrated and made our descent. The conditions were awful – freezing cold with just one meter visibility and cross winds. The descent from Skiddaw was slow and cold – it felt like forever. When the sun rose and we caught our first sight of the finishing line in the distance, we pulled every last bit of energy together and ran as a troop, reaching the finishing line with 12 minutes to spare.
This event turned into 11 mountains, 50 miles, 6300 meters of ascent in 23:47 minutes. We started with five of us and finished as two plus two new friends, Jon and the Northerner. 200 people entered the challenge only 69 completed. This by far has been my hardest Challenge to date and one I hope never to do again.
If you ever feel the necessity to do the 10 peaks let me know and ill help you prepare, both with practical training nutrition and kit requirements. Good luck !
Personal trainer and holder of a 10 peaks medal
Fitness is not about being better than someone else… IT IS ABOUT BEING BETTER THAN YOU USED TO BE.
— Martin King, Personal Trainer