Last month I received a last minute notification of annual leave from Carla. This time though, it wasn’t for a break by the sea: on the contrary, it was something quite different.
Carla had been called up last minute to fill a space on a team headed for a gruelling Highland challenge that would prove most memorable.
The Ben Nevis Charity Challenge
The Ben Nevis Charity Challenge is a team challenge set against the backdrop of the striking Scottish Highlands. Teams of four take on the task of climbing Ben Nevis, cycling 25 miles and canoeing one and a quarter miles down Loch Lochy, Scotland’s third deepest loch. The Challenge invites teams to raise funds for the charity of their choice.
Carla joined her three teammates to form the ‘Over 40s’, but before she did, there was a fair amount of ground to make up in order to prepare for the event. With only three weeks’ notice, plenty of focused training was called for to get the climbing muscles prepared for what Carla was about to endure.
But it wasn’t long before the time came to board the flight to Glasgow, and Carla found herself waking up to a stunning Highland summer sunrise. It was time to begin the trek to the foot of Ben Nevis.
A Perfect Day for Climbing
The day proved to be perfect for climbing: one of the clearest of the year so far. In fact there are only around two days every year when the conditions are as good, and Carla and team had hit it lucky and managed to choose one of them.
42 teams were competing in the challenge overall, and once the climb had begun, Carla’s sporting instinct quickly kicked in. Enthusiastically egged on by her team mates, she found herself eager to make something out of the experience.
Despite the fact Ben Nevis towers some 1,345 metres above sea level, it wasn’t long before the competitors had reached the snow-covered summit: quite a contrast to the searing heat that had seen them off at the bottom. So now they’d conquered part one of the challenge, however there was no time to rest: the bicycles were back at base and waiting for stage two. But not before Carla commanded a quick photo call – well how could you not stop and admire such wonderful scenery?
A Race to the Finish
After a racing descent, the team was back at base and mounting the cycles ready for the 15 mile ride on the road to Loch Lochy where it was quickly off the bikes and into the four-man canoes for the next part of the challenge. Thankfully there were no capsizing incidents and the team was quickly back on dry land with pedalling resumed for the final 10-mile leg of the journey. 9 hours and 15 minutes after setting off, the team had returned to base and was celebrating its victory.
Out of the 42 teams, Carla and Team Over 40s ranked joint 5th overall, 2nd amongst the mixed teams and 2nd out of the golden oldies. £1,000 was raised for the team’s appointed charity, the British Heart Foundation.
A very relieved Carla said: “I have to say I was unsure of the whole thing in the lead up. But once I got on that mountain and took in that superb scenery, the competitive me came to the fore. Now I’ve got the bug and I can’t wait for the next challenge. Bring it on!”
To learn more about the Ben Nevis Charity Challenge visit the Action for Charity and Dream Challenges website.