The Team Sky 2015 Story
Congratulations to Team Sky 2015 (Tony Jaconelli, Chris Leinster, Steven Curling & Del Donaldson) for taking part in the demanding Ben Nevis challenge in aid of CHSS on Saturday 20th June. Well done guys!
The Sky 2015 Team started in 80th place and were challenged to climb Ben Nevis, cycle 25 miles and canoe Loch Lochy!
Read about the teams highs and lows throughout the challenge and if they managed to complete the 2015 Ben Nevis Challenge or not!
The Ben Nevis Challenge is not for the feint hearted… it’s a gruelling Walk to Ben Nevis, followed by a Hike to the top and back down (obviously), a killer walk again after the mountain has been tackled, jumping on a bike for 15 miles of B roads and hills, a burst of upper body activity with a 3km 4 person Canadian canoe, then a final 10 mile cycle to the finish line. When we initially decided to take part in the event we were filled with bravado and great intentions, thinking only of doing something different together as a team and raising a few quid in to the bargain for a charity of our choosing, however the closer to the event date we came we all realised that training would be required… a lot of training, mostly cycling to be honest, and 1 or 2 of us had some time on the hills, but we tried to put in the best preparation thinking only of completing the event – never mind trying to compete. Then we had to consider the fundraising, ensuring we achieved our targets and keept our focus along the way, and on top of all that, lead a normal work/life balance 🙂
So what I can confirm is that the fundraising kind of took care of itself, when you have a great charity supporting a cause that can have an impact on so many people lives, support was fairly easy to find. We also had some football cards which worked great to get people involved – something for them, something for charity. We also used social media that resulted in bursts of support from friends and work colleagues, then to freshen things up, I had a brain wave! Companies like Kickstarter for example, offer a crowd funding platform for causes or campaigns that offer rewards and one of a kind experiences in exchange for a supporters donation. So we implemented this idea for something quick, simple, fun and engaging for our proposed donators. Simple incentives to donate were created to encourage others to help us achieve our target depending on their donation amounts. We had offered signed team photo’s, their name being shouted out on top of Ben Nevis, a cup of tea (these are free in our work canteen – but it’s the gesture that counts 🙂 ). After that, the fundraising target took care of its self, which was great, and we were all more than relieved to find out we’d broken our target a week or so before the event, then smashed it a couple of day's after the event raising £2.4k overall for CHSS.
The event itself was memorable in too many ways to mention alone, but if you are prepared for it you’ve already won half the battle of the challenge. The Hike is tough, Ben Nevis is tough on you, so you need to make sure you are ready for a constant slog, have great equipment, food, snacks and most importantly of all, a good team to have a laugh with. Everyone has their own pace, but as it’s a team event we always made sure each of us were on good form, holding up physically and mentally, and we always made sure we didn’t split up, each of us were always within sight of another. Nevis takes it out of you, there is no denying that, it’s impact on the heels, toes, calves, hips is constant, but making it to the top (through a few inches of snow… IN JUNE no less! is an amazing feeling. We soaked up the achievement, not for long though, we then made our way down again to take on the first of two cycle legs.
Getting ready for the cycle leg, your legs are shaky, your head is a little fuzzy, and some doubt creeps in, but once on that bike, you are ready for it again. It’s a little easier on the body, you are using different muscle groups and there is time to rest up when you get a good downhill. We all took to this leg of the event like ducks to water, steadily overtaking other teams and growing in confidence after the Ben. We didn’t take on this event to be competitive, and on Nevis we did take over a lot of teams, but on the bike when you have someone in sight, nature takes over and we all gunned it along to the Canoe section. There are some MASSIVE hills on this course, no-one taking part could cycle up, but the team and a few others all managed to grit our teeth to get to the top and moving on at speed again, it’s not an easy course, but adrenaline keeps you moving.
The Canoe section is an almost welcome rest for the legs, but when squashed in to two modified canoes as a team, there isn’t much room to stretch, so a few of the team started to suffer from cramp and this resulted in some un-orthodox paddling, looking on you’d think a little bit of Venice had come to Scotland as one of our team had to stand and paddle for the final few hundred yards.
We jumped back on to dry land and straight on to the bikes to ride out the final 10 miles of the challenge and each of us could just envisage the finishing line around every corner. This part of the challenge was supposed to be mostly downhill (it was not) and this raised a few grumbles from us, as at this stage we had been on the go for near 9 hours, but we didn’t let this get us down, we made a final push and entered another gear to finish the event in style. An amazing accomplishment for each of us. We finished and collected our medals, got some food and a beverage then surveyed the “leader board”, to our amazement, we were already within the top 20 finishers, although three quarters of the teams still had to finish the event! When all the dust had settled and every one of the 88 teams who took part had completed the challenge, we were ecstatic to learn that we had moved up the event board 65 places to finish the event in 15th place, completing the course in 10hrs and 5 minutes. Considering we had entered without a single target, other than completing the course, we all felt really proud to have done something great with our time, while raising money for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland and having a great time in doing so… Would we do it again? Maybe next year top 10 might just be in our sights!