Monday, 15 March 2010

Anyone Fancy the "Two Year Anniversary Challenge"?

36 hours: pah!

I reckon we could cycle/climb it in under 12! Do you dare? Well, do you?

Friday, 18 December 2009

I fear people are getting nostalgic about s2s!

Hello everyone! Long time no speak... I trust all is well with you?

After recent discussions with various Spa2summiteers, I had a horrible sinking feeling that a thin layer of nostalgia has started to build up surrounding our "small fundraising adventure", which we may have mentioned to you readers once or twice over the summer months.... (sorry, we all appreciate we must have started driving you all insane, but imagine how it was for us!.. it was every conversation!!)

I must admit, this glaze of wistfulness was rubbing off on me too, the journey, the story, the pride... the camaraderie of a band of brothers etc!! However hopefully with the kind permission of Jamie, whose photos these indeed are, I thought it would be good to post a few of her photos to fill in some gaps....

It was such an epic adventure granted.... but, as you can see from our faces, it was ruddy difficult... and at times painful!!

Signing off... but who knows what 2010 will bring......?


Monday, 30 November 2009


Aren't these empty old blogs kinda *spooky*......

It's so quite in hear(sp) you could here a ducks quack echo! proof

Still, just poking around some old web haunts and thought I update the old girl, and it's probably a chaos theory thing where I do this little thing and it triggers loads of updates, emails, re-cacheing of pages and the like.... ohhhh I love chaos theory (gives me a legit excuse to be messy, or is that entropy...anyway)

Catch you soon walking fans!

Monday, 13 July 2009

Should it just fade, pass into the west?

Well it seemed ages since I read the blog's and look at what we all created, missed a few posts as well from the guys.

Not even sure if anyone is reading these any more, still it's nice to reminisce. ...

I guess this was triggered by my receiving an email from a Journalist who was looking to do a piece on our plod, and the concofiny of web based media we used to fuel and fire our trip. Chris did some great work pulling it all together, and it does show how the Internet can be used as a force for good and something actually beneficial to people, not just to let people know that Stephen Fry is currently enjoying a Latte in some coffee store, or whatever twitter is used for.... Why didn't we use twitter? Mmmmm, good question. Perhaps we aren't cool and nerdy enough, or perhaps we're so cool and nerdy we've already seen past it, to the utopian days of face to face interaction! ;)

But the real question is now, what happens to all this. The blogs, the website, the youtube channel, do we tear it down, archive it off for our own prosperity ("come on kids, look at what you're great granddad did before the ice caps melted"), or do we keep it going, use it and launch off it? - Comments please!

I get the feeling from some that perhaps another big project, challange - Kobayashi Maru even! is in the wind, a distant faint tickling at the ankles of the boys. Ken's got ideas, Chris and Pete have ideas, sure Ollie and Grant have them to (even if it is just changing they're numbers so they can't be dragged into another crazy scheme).

Will it be for charity? Perhaps, or perhaps the debt is now paid, if it ever can be. Or maybe it will just be a personal challange, another way of boring the grandkids, or another way of putting off the inevitable passing into the west that faces all of our Knees....

Keep wrangling...

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Spa2Summit... Epilogue

So that's it. Cheltenham to Pen Y Fan has been done and Spa2Summit 2009 is over.

We raised far more money than we had ever expected. We thought £2500 was maybe a bit ambitious yet through the generosity and kindness of friends and strangers we've passed £4000! Thank you to everyone who contributed in some way, we all appreciated it hugely. The support and encouragement we received was incredibly touching and we're so grateful.

On a personal note I'd like to thank my friends, family and customers who contributed and took an interest in our peculiar challenge.

Mostly, though, I'd like to thank Abi. She has been so supportive and enthusiastic for the whole nine months we've been working on Spa2Summit. Not once did she become annoyed at all the time I spent on training walks, at shows or working on the website. She was devastated that she didn't make it up to the top of Pen Y Fan in time to welcome us up there (it wasn't her fault I might add!) but Abi, I was more grateful that you were there to carry me down and put up with my constant moaning about how far away everyone had parked. Then to have a quilt and a pillow waiting for me in the car was perhaps the best present I've ever had! Thanks Abi.

As for the boys, I have to mention Ken first. The Cheltenham to Pen Y Fan walk was his idea, his baby. For the rest of us to finish it without him felt like stealing something from him. It still does. After Abi he was the first person I wanted to see after reaching the summit and the warm greeting he gave me when we reached the car park had me welling up. Thank you Ken for all the work you put into this endeavour, it wouldn't have happened without you. Thanks also to Bev, who not only put up with Ken spending so much time on this but also drove our smelly bodies home after various training walks! A brave long-suffering woman.

Pete, your drive and determination really stood out, particularly in the latter stages of the walk and I can't emphasize enough how much that impressed me. Despite the problems you encountered on the training walks, I could tell there was no way you weren't going to reach the summit. You paced yourself excellently and finished strongly, all things you can be proud of!

As for Ollie and Grant, it was great to get to know you both better. Spa2Summit made us more like brothers and I look forward to many other painful and unusual challenges in your company. Every time we pass in the street we can give each other a knowing nod, safe in the knowledge we are a rare breed indeed!

Many thanks to those who walked with us - Abi, Esther, Kath, Jamie, Miriam etc - you guys kept things fresh and dynamic, we needed it!

That leaves Jonty, Marky, Luke, Becci and Mel. Although they were behind the scenes, Spa2Summit's success would not have been possible, no doubt at all. Simply lugging around the required water would have been impossible for us yet they did so much more. Rest stops were well organised and efficient, their energy and enthusiasm was infectious and having cups of tea and pasta handed to us was awesome. Plus their Plodcast entries were brilliant, lifting the spirits when ours were flagging.

As for me, it's now three weeks later and my body still hasn't recovered properly. I've lost a lot of pace when I run because my achilles aren't working as they should and this is affecting my performance at football and tennis - very frustrating! Both my big toes are still completely numb for some reason but the blister on my little toe has now gone so that's something. Any suggestions at how I can heal my afflictions would be most welcome!

I loved this challenge. For me it was just the right difficulty, it was all I could give and a bit more. Trying to tap into hidden reserves of strength and energy was something I've always thought I've been able to do (tennis is great training for this) but attempting it on this scale was something else. My ambition has been ignited and I'd like to take on bigger, more daring expeditions, ones that are new and untried. It even got me wondering if there was any way that some kind of career could emerge from it. We'll see.

So Ken, Pete, Grant and Ollie... what's next? :)


51.8972°N 2.0778°W to 51.88328°N 3.43684°W

This can't be it, I thought. This can't be all I've got.

With just three miles to go and the clock ticking down I had nothing more to give, the pace I was walking at was the most I could manage. With the other boys having had their times of struggle now it was my turn.

By 53 miles blisters had eaten up Ken's feet to such an extent that he had been forced to quit but not before a titanic multi-mile effort on his part, Ken even cutting up his trainers in an attempt to alleviate the friction on his blister menagerie.

At our penultimate rest stop Ollie, who had been suffering flu for the whole trip, experienced such a rapid decline that he was making plans to call it a day and meet us with the support crew at the ascent to Carn Pica.

Grant, who had been battling with violent sickness, had announced (and been told!) that he would do one more leg of the walk and then definitely stop at Talybont Reservoir.

As it was, this "final" leg saw Grant's strength and determination return while Ollie's pride lit a fuse inside him and he persevered to the end, not wanting two Cheltenham boys to succeed where the two Gloucester boys had failed.

After the most satisfying of breaks at Talybont Reservoir where our aching muscles were treated to a quick massage and our cooling bodies were fed piping hot pasta (thanks Mel!) the four of us - Pete, Ollie, Grant and me - began the ascent towards Carn Pica. Regarding this section of walk I had earlier written that "...this is the terrain I am most comfortable on," and so it proved to be as I kept a good pace onwards and upwards.

Throughout the whole walk I had set myself mini-challenges. One was to regulate my pace with the rest of the team and another was to catch any who built a significant lead, 'reeling them in.' This was an excellent strategy as it kept my mind off any pain I was feeling and would leave a warm feeling of satisfaction every time I succeeded. The pace that Pete was setting in the hills gave me a good opportunity to try this once more. It took a lot longer than previous efforts and was a shock at just how fast Pete was moving, much faster than our average walking speed. He had the bit between his teeth by now and, with the end so close and no doubt with memories of his dad swirling round his head, he found a strength and determination that impressed me no end. In my opinion Pete had been the most improved member of the team. Stepping up from the problems of a thirty-five mile training walk to an incident-free seventy-three was remarkable.

We reached Carn Pica in an hour and a quarter, a cracking pace even if you were hitting it fresh. Then came my slump. The winds on the hills had braided the grass into many trip-wires that seemed to catch me on every step. Small drops off grassy verges sent shooting pains up both legs. It wasn't long before any shock-absorbency my legs could provide had been eroded away. Every step, particularly downhill, was now agonizingly painful. My left knee was burning, my right calf had a knot that seemed the size of a golf-ball and both my achilles had seized up. Yet the pace, dictated by Pete (I use the term 'dictated' in its strongest possible sense!), remained fast.

There was no time to stop for a break, it was now a very real possibility that we wouldn't make the top in 36 hours. A long, very painful descent was approaching and we had just hit seventy miles. Gusty tailwinds carried us forward, relieving some of the pain for half a second at a time. The path took us out of the wind. That long descent was upon us.

Every step sent shockwaves up my legs and into my chest. It felt like my muscles, ligaments and tendons had been removed and bone was left to grind against bone, or worse - bone against nerve.

After an age the path eventually lead us onto the gentle ascent around Corn Du towards Pen Y Fan. By now I was at the rear of our silent line of Summiteers, Ollie was just in front, then a gap to Grant, then another to Pete.

This can't be it, I thought. This can't be all I've got.

For the first time I couldn't willingly switch into another gear and the idea of reeling in the leader again was being rejected by my brain. I needed adrenaline. I ran, telling my body to ignore what the brain was telling it. I felt like a gazelle. I passed Ollie, then Grant. I felt strong.

As I approached Pete he turned, bearing a peculiar look on his face. I yelled, "It hurts less like this!" and carried on past him, springing off each rock and stone as if they were boiling hot. I turned as I ran and felt a warm surge of pride and adrenaline as I saw all three of my new brothers running with me.

We slowed to a walk again as the final "wall" of Pen Y Fan faced us. Our friends were at the top and time, thanks to the pace we kept from Talybont Reservoir, was once again on our side.

We climbed together, stopping whenever one of us requested. We finished together. Strongly.

Seventy-three and a half miles of tarmac, grass and stone had passed under our feet reaching this point. We just wished Ken was with us.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The Summities!!

Hello everyone, it's taken me a few days to recover from our adventure..... and since then, others have written their accounts and experiences much more eloquently than I'll be able to cobble together (if you haven't read Pete's or Ken's blog posting yet, I wholeheartedly recommend a read) Therefore, to save you readers getting bored, and having to hear about the "issues" I faced with Carbohydrates during Spa2summit, instead I have dragged up the idea of a one time only Spa2summit awards ceremony. THE SUMMITIES!! -They are a bit like the Oscars, with a much smaller budget and more importantly gives me a perfect segue into my thank yous for this epic walk. Hopefully this may give you a small incite into some of the stories others may not really have mentioned. Shall we begin?

The first award is the "Special Dedication Award". Whilst there were many nominations for this category, the moment Ken started cutting holes in his rather new looking trainers with his Leatherman, there was only going to be one winner. He seemed to have more blister plasters on than skin, and he still inched onward. I couldn't believe it, so hats off to you! Then instead of being down about things outside of his control, he then clicked into Mr Support Crew mode and helped us boys ever onward.

Next is the "Insanely Determined Award", and if Mr Bodington could come up and collect his award please? Sufficient to say we were all exhausted by the time we saw Talybont Reservoir, yet you would not believe the amount of focus Pete had as we drew close, of not only finishing this thing, but making it with time to spare. He encouraged, drove us on, and lead from the front despite the fact that he was just as tired as all the rest of us.

The 'How'd He Do That?!' Award is merited to Chris. 69 miles in and we are hitting the bottom of Pen-Y-fan. Chris' knees and hips are giving up the ghost, as he tells us everything seems to be jarring as he walks. I too had just started to give up hope of making it within 36 hours, and then I look up to see Chris break to fast walk, to a jog, into a proper run. He was the catalyst for the most insane half a mile of running I have ever done and so, from the bottom of my heart I have to ask, how on earth did you muster up that?!?!

Ah, next Award is for Ollie and this was an easy one to award him. The 'Mr Superman' Award. Please bear in mind that the other four Summiteers, had really put every effort to start on the best possible footing, early nights, foot prep etc. Ollie on the other hand, went down with a strong case of Man-flu on the day before, and yet didn't complain about feeling rough, he would sit down at a break, have some cold remedy along with his provisions and darn well carry on!! The other guys were creaking on Sunday at the post S2S BBQ, yet Ollie seemed as good as early Friday morning, and for that he can take this award home.

The 'Last Man Standing' Award is simple, that it should go to the person who remained the most vigilant through this. Jonty has been deemed the worthy winner, as he stayed alert and around for 44 hours straight before his head hit a well-earned pillow. You led the support crew from the front, and they all did an amazing job.

The next 'Summitie' has to be divided several ways. The 'Above and Beyond the Call of Duty' Award goes equally to our fantastic Support Crew. Luke and Marky at every stop ran round us, sorting drinks, tea, food provisions... everything! and at all times of the day! Becky and Mel also should be included as they helped no end with massages, common sense and determination, despite the fact that they arrived right after their secular work day ended! So thank you guys!

The 'Surprise of the Walk' Award too was a hotly contested one. Whether that be the stampeding bulls, the bottle of Champagne carried up by Gem Hollands to the summit, or indeed the 20 or so people who joined us at the summit. All were amazing, but for me it had to be the cheer from work colleagues as we passed by GCC. I know how much I had incessantly talked about S2S with some of them, but for 20 or so, and therefore a good proportion of the team to switch off the clock (which Lawyers very rarely do!), to take the time to come out and cheer us past was very much appreciated. Thank you Nigel, Sam etc for letting them do so and those who did.

The 'Almost Didn't Make it' Award is one that I need to pass out. Pete said something to me at the BBQ, saying "if it hadn't been for Esther B, (along with Cath and Jamie) I doubt you would have finished the walk." This was in no way meant harshly but was rather a true and telling statement, so I wanted to say cheers to them, this award is for you!

And finally...... the 'That's Typical!!' Award goes to my Mother!! I had dragged myself 70 miles, was absolutely flagging, only to be informed on the way down from the summit that my Mother, who suffers from vertigo whilst being only three steps up a ladder, had climbed the exceptionally steep assent to Corn Du (scrambled on hands and knees!), and Pen-Y-Fan to come and welcome us at the top. All I can say is whilst I was most proud, that's flippin' typical of my family!! Hahaha!!!!

Well done, and SERIOUSLY NOW - genuinely THANK YOU to everyone, both mentioned above and those who unfortunately I have omitted to mention, and to those who have kindly donated to Macmillan Cancer Support - for an amazing Spa2summit!

Cheers - Grant.

Please note:- that in the interest of Team harmony there was no winner declared of "The Yellow Car Game", as each of us are still determined that we respectively were the overall winner. Therefore may I suggest the game continues?...... !

More Sponsorship News!

As a regular follower of this blog, you're aware that Enterprise Rent-a-Van did us a very good deal on Jonty's Support Copter. A good deal is not a free deal however and this is where local company, Adey Solutions Limited came to our rescue! A very generous donation to Spa2Summit has enabled us to cover the cost of van hire, fuel and still have some money to go in to the Macmillan pot.

If you've not come across an Adey Solutions product then check out their website and say hello to a world of efficient and cost-effective central heating. Tell them Spa2Summit sent you!

Justgiving Problems

Of all the weekends for Justgiving to update their website, they had to choose the Spa2Summit weekend! Quite a number of you have told us that you have had trouble donating, and we in turn are having trouble accessing our account. It is very annoying! There is an article here that goes some to explaining the problem.

Please be patient. If you were going to donate please keep trying, or get in touch with one of the Spa2Summit team who will do their best to help.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

It's all about the guy next to you

Well, what more can I say that hasn't been said!

What an experience the guys have gone through, pushing themselves on and on. It's interesting to see how this seemed to be less a physical endurance event, more a mental one. The day after most were up and about, and apart from Ken's feet, pretty chipper! It's amazing how when the body seems happy to give up, the mind can drive it forward.

I enjoyed my little bit a well, staying up for nearly 44 hours straight through, interesting having to fight sleep - thanks to caffeine and cold air!

I think the best part for me was seeing the guys from the first time from the summit. They're were about 20 of us up there, waiting for them, and to watch they're approach and encourage them with some very very bad singing (sorry Pete) was great fun.

The worst part had to be using gaffer tape to attach the boys shoes and socks to the air vents on the van and then blasting red hot air through them. I'm sure (Hope!) they appreciated the warm dry footwear, but the smell, well....interesting... :)

Marky and Luke did a far better job than me running around after the boys and getting all they're gear together, learning what each of them was likely to need and then making sure they had it. And Becky and Mel added a much needed shot of sanity to the support team, well done you all!

So yeah, quite an experience. What did I learn? Well when you're in the middle of it, it's not about the charity, the money or the good thing you're doing. It's about you're mates, not letting them down, being strong for them and helping each other finish.... I just hope Pete doesn't phone me again with another crazy crazy idea :)

Keep an eye on our media sites, more stuff to come....

Support Wrangler

Monday, 22 June 2009

Ken's Radio Interview

Hello everybody!
Thanks for continuing to check our blog even though Spa2Summit is over. My report on the last few days is on its way but in the meantime you may want to listen to Ken's radio interview with Radio Gloucestershire on our YouTube channel here.
Thanks and keep checking back!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Post Spa2Summit revelries

Just a quick blog post about our post Spa2Summit bbq at Wal's.
What a thing we did! 70+ miles in 36 hours, an awesome team, alpha and beta! I'm humbled to have been part of it, rock on!

I tend to underestimate a lot...

Ken has given a fantastic account of the S2S experience in his blog below so this really comes as an addendum to that.

I've noticed through this whole experience that I underestimate a lot of things.

I underestimated how long this would take and how hard it would be. When Ken suggested the Spa2summit route, I said that we should bang it out in 24 hours as this would attract more attention. Fortunately Ken was (as always) the voice of reason and we compromised on 36 hours. Thank goodness for Ken. Getting to that final cairn on the summit after 35 hours and 23 minutes was the hardest thing I've ever done and I've done a lot of stupid things in my life, believe me.

I underestimated the draining effects of walking at night in the rain. That section was absolutely soul destroying and I'm so proud that we carried on despite the rain, dark and cold.

I underestimated the joy of seeing it get light. After that harsh night section, it was so wonderful when it started to get light, I felt like I was being re-energised just by the fact that it was getting lighter.

I underestimated the feeling of seeing Chris run past me. We were so near the end and could see Pen-Y-Fan looming towards us but the time was running short. I was panicking (I do this well) and tried pushing the lads to move faster but I knew that we were already giving everything they had and couldn't do anymore. I was at the front with my head down, genuinely thinking that we would miss our 36 hour deadline by just a few minutes and felt awful about it.

Then Chris ran past me.

I looked behind me and Grant and Ollie were running too. I was so filled with pride, ready to burst, and started to run too. We ran about half a mile and then realised that we'd make it. This will always be one of the defining moments of my life and I owe Chris, Ollie and Grant for that. Thank you boys.

I underestimated how great my friends really are. There is absolutely no way we could have done what we did without Jonty, Luke, Marky, Becky, Mel, Esther, Kath, Jamie and all the others who supported us. It was so wonderful to walk up to a rest stop, be directed to a chair, have my backpack taken from me and refilled, be given a cup of tea and some food, have my legs stretched and get some fantastic encouragement. Bear in mind that our support team didn't get any sleep either as they were serving us through the night but they were still as encouraging and efficient on the last stop as they had been on the first.

So many of our friends raised money for us too. Lavina, Grant's mum, very early on took flyers and collection tubs to get money out of her workmates. It seems that Chris's parents, Pat and Mike, strong armed everyone they came into contact with to donate to us. Esther and Jamie got their workmates to sponsor them to walk a stint with us. I don't know what Mat Hollands has been doing (something's are better left unsaid) but he's raised a fortune from his friends and colleagues. I know that many others have been doing the same for us and I'm sure that there are many that I don't know about.

And as for Ken, Chris, Grant and Ollie, I don't know what to say. Those guys are amazing. We did something ridiculously hard to support a charity who I had a personal reason to support, but hadn't had an effect on their lives. But Ken accepted me hijacking his good idea and making it really tough. Grant, Ollie and Chris asked us if they could join, not the other way round. And with their help, we've raised thousands for people who really need it.

I underestimated how much I'd miss of my dad. I've always enjoyed challenges, half marathons, adventure races, rock climbing, canoeing in the Amazon etc. I like that sort of thing, keeps you on your toes. But when I did some challenge, particularly an outdoor thing, the first person I'd call would be my dad. He would always be so excited for me, even if it was something he wasn't that interested in. I was gutted that I couldn't call him when I got to the top.

I did Spa2summit for him.

I will never be able to fully express my gratitude to everyone who was involved with Spa2summit, so please imagine that the following words are 1000 feet high.

Thank you all.

I'm Alive

I'M Alive and still have two feet in working order..I must say that has to be the hardest thing i have ever done and will ever do ( maybe )....Big thankyou to everyone who has supported us given of there money and time, which includes are support team Jonty Luke Marky Becky Melissa Esther Cath Jamie, sorry if i have missed anyone out my brain is still not in working order..I think the only reason the team got through this was the team spirit we helped each other on through blood sweat and tears and even the odd mention of quitting.So glad we did it thanks once again to everyone.. love Ollie..

An Incredible Feat of Feet.

So that was Spa2Summit. It was a test of endurance the like of which none of us had ever experienced, and I suspect never want to experience again. But it was more than that. There were tough times, dark days, but there was also kindness, generosity, friendship and laughter.

I won't go over the route as we've talked about that in previous blogs but I thought I might just mention a few things/highlights that struck me as S2S unfolded. This is not a definitive list!

I'll start at the Start. When I got round to the Town Hall at 7:30 on Friday, Grant and Ollie were waiting, this was unusual in itself but then as the clock inched/rushed round towards 8, more and more people turned up to see us off. It's hard to describe how cool that was, it took our minds off what lay ahead and buoyed our spirits. Esther B was darting all over the place, leafleting innocent passers-by like there was no tomorrow. After a final few photos, 8 o'clock arrived and we set off to Pen-y-Fan. Esther, Kath and Abi joined us, toting Macmillan Cancer Support contribution buckets and chatting to anyone we passed.

Too soon they had to leave us and we marched on towards Gloucester. After our first break, Marky and Luke took over the collecting bucket duties, and somehow it just wasn't the same! Grant had rung ahead to his office and as we came round the corner by Shire Hall we were greeted by the cheers of his GCC colleagues. A real boost, many thanks!

It was after this that the game of "Yellow Car" took a turn for the competitive. "Yellow Car" has very simple rules, a point is scored by the person who spots a yellow car first. Some debate about the points value of vans, coaches and lorries developed as we proceeded down the A40!

Sometime later, we approached our second refuelling point, and we were delighted to see that our noble support team had been augmented by Wal, Elaine, and Harley amongst others. After a brief pause we set off again, with our extended support team watching. Watching not out of any wistfulness at seeing us heading west, but rather because we had to cross a field, the gate of which bore the sign "Bull in Field". Sadly for the watching mob, no bull appeared!

Not content with this, a short while later, Chris tried out his cow herding skills, which as it turns out are excellent. He herded about 20 of them right in to the gateway we needed to use. When I say cow, I really mean bullocks. They were pretty solid-looking things, and it was particularly interesting when Pete and Ollie proceeded to startle them in to a stampede about 10 feet to my right. We were through the now approachable gate with some speed.

The next stand-out moment was stopping for bacon and egg sarnies at Seth and Amy's. Rather wonderfully, they live about halfway along one of the first particularly tough sections of the route. What a delight to be greeted with top quality banter, sandwiches and drinks here. Awesome! Too soon we headed on.

Earlier in the day, as we passed through Gloucester, Pete had popped some S2S leaflets in to Radio Glos. Checking my answerphone, I note a call saying that they would like to feature us on Drive Time. I pass these details to Support Gruppenfuhrer Jonty who makes the necessary arrangements. So, a little after 6 0'clock, a few miles west of Mitcheldean, I get interviewed live on air about Spa2Summit. I hope you were listening!

At our next stop, west of Goodrich, we were joined by a throng of wellwishers, family and friends which was a real tonic. Lots of noise and banter helps to take your minds off your weariness and the fact we'd been going for 12 hours and twenty minutes. Joined for the next few miles by friends we once again headed west, in to the setting sun. The support team had now grown too, with Becky and Mel joining at Goodrich and staying to the very end.

This was one of the longest stages between support that we would do, and as the sun set the lift that you get from being in beautiful countryside waned, because we couldn't see it! However we did get a little adrenaline hit as we approached Skenfrith. There is a part of our route where we had to take a little detour through the woods, the legality of which we unsure of. As stealthily as we could, with minimum lights showing, we snuck/sneaked along until we could dart on to the footpath once again.

The next leg from Skenfrith was really hard. Just minutes after leaving the support team, it started to drizzle and then properly rain. Chris won outfit of the walk, with his white plastic poncho with flashing red lights beneath. He looked like a rave ghost! To be honest, I was not a happy camper at this point and I went a bit anti-social. Ipod in, hood up, head down and one foot in front of the other. Eventually the sky began to lighten, and we finally made our next rendezvous at Llangattock Lingoed where a really friendly cat adopted the team.

Now heading down to Llanvihangel Crucorney, I was properly unhappy. My feet were blistering like mad and I couldn't get comfortable no matter what I did. As we approached Stanton I took my leatherman to my trainers to cut out little pressure relief windows for my little toes. This helped a little, and I pressed on. Everyone was really feeling it now I think.

Sadly, about 3 miles out from Crickhowell, I had to call a halt to my attempt on Spa2Summit. Time was slipping away from us and at the pace my blisters would let me maintain, there was no way we would reach the summit by 8pm. I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, the disappointment of putting in nine months of planning and not seeing it through was gutting. We've had tons of support and it felt a little like I was letting the team and our helpers down. But then on the other hand, being dispassionate about it, I could see that it was the best decision to take for the team, that they could push on faster. Later Bev pointed out the link to my profile on the Spa2Summit website. I didn't want to be like Joe Simpson (crawling along with dodgy legs.) but I did want to be like Rick from Casablanca (who gave up his own happiness for the greater good!). It was a sign.

So now part of the support crew I could still do as much as possible to help Pete, Chris, Ollie and Grant to hit the summit. At the Crickhowell refuelling point we were joined by Esther, Kath and Jamie who walked with the guys all the way to the Talybont reservoir. A massive boost, as none of the guy's egos would allow them to appear weak in front of girls. A clever tactical move!

Before too long it was time for the final push in to the Brecons. I'm not sure that anyone can appreciate just what it took the guys to set off up the hill to Carn Pica. They had cramps and muscle knots, blisters and fatigue. Pete couldn't get his boots on over his blisters and yet they knew there was another 7 miles of steep and rough terrain before they would hit the summit, and another two miles til they reached the car park at Storey Arms.

I watched them head off up the path towards Carn Pica and they looked tiny, but they were moving at a good pace and were sticking together.

We drove round to Storey Arms where various people had already left to meet them on the summit. Luke and Marky left as we arrived, then Matty and Gem turned up, and a little later Clover and Abi, who took Jamie with them. All we could do was wait. There was no phone signal so I had no idea what progress Pete and the boys were making. We then met Diane Raynor who had come along to represent Macmillan Cancer Support. As we were chatting, a couple who had just come down off the hills asked if were part of the Macmillan people, and then told us they had heard a big cheer from the summit. What a boost to hear that. Not long after that Tim and Ruth turned up. They'd been on the summit when the boys arrived to a rapturous welcome. Then we could see a couple of knots of people coming down the path, it was our people!

It was an awesome moment as they came through the gate at the bottom of the path, clearly at their limit but delighted by what they had achieved. Incredibly they had started running the last section to the summit! Brilliant!

After a few photos and celebratory chats, the plainly hanging team disbursed to their various means home for some well earned rest and recuperation. See you at Wal's BBQ tonight. Shall we walk there?


Almost too many to list here but I'll have a go. (Again this is not a definitive list!)

Bev. Put up with my S2S preoccupation for the last nine months, including days missing whilst out training. And then coming out to pick up disheveled walkers from the back of beyond at very odd hours. Love you!
Jonty, Marky and Luke. A primo service from the best support team a charity challenge could ask for!
Becky, Mel, Esther, Kath and Jamie. Our unexpected support team, offering money collecting, massage, feeding and walk support. Wouldn't have been the same with out you!
Many many other friends. Texts, phonecalls, physical appearances. Kept spirits high throughout.
Seth, Amy and India. Quality catering!
Claire, Catherine and Jon at Macmillan. Support, encouragement and advice.
Nicki and Cotswold Outdoor - Brecon. Clothing, kit and food supplied to the team. Advice and help above and beyond the call of duty. Go buy stuff from them!
All who have donated and sponsored S2S. The boost that the team has had from seeing the donations climb can't be overstated. Thank you for making the blood, sweat and tears pay off.
Pete, Chris, Ollie and Grant. The very best team! It was a privilege to serve with you.

Sorry if I have left anyone out. I'm still a bit tired, blistered and sunburnt.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Spa2Summit is done!

Exciting news just in from the summit of Pen-y-Fan! The four walking wounded/remaining Spa2summiters achieved their goal by completing the route with 37 minutes to spare!

The final push.

A day of mixed emotions today. The rain which dogged the team overnight cleared to give sunny spells throughout the day. Physically the team were contending with various issues, blisters, tiredness and assorted aches and pains. Tragically blisters put an end to my Spa2Summit this year after about 53 miles. The remainder of the team cracked on, realising that the target finish time of 8 hung in the balance. They've just left the Talybont reservoir for the last leg, looking proud, weary and tiny against the bulk of the Brecons. Stay posted.

Friday, 19 June 2009

29.97 miles done, some more to go

Just reached Goodrich after a very pleasant evening stroll from Mitcheldean. Got interviewed by BBC Radio Glos on the way and managed to plug the website so that was cool. Time to stretch and replaster my poor tootsies, then gear up for the start of the night stages. Bev's on the way so that will make everything alright! Further updates from Wales will follow...

Going strong.

Ok, we're out past Mitcheldean and doing well. We have had superb support, including bacon and egg sandwiches at Seth and Amy's. Onward, ever onward! Oh yeah, and listen to BBC Radio Gloucester at about 6:05-10, we'll be on.

Not dead yet!

Made it to our first break, running about 25 mins ahead of schedule. Spirits high, got a stack of donations from passers-by, collected by Cath and Esther. Keep watching!