Four mountains, three climbers, one driver – 48 hours!
On 1 July 2010, together with Carly Rodman, Eileen Weinert and my dear old Dad as our driver, I left Chancery Lane behind to tackle the Wooden Spoon 4 Peaks Challenge… for the fourth year in a row
Thursday 1 July 2010: Ben Nevis (Fort William, Scotland)
“What if we need to go to the toilet?”
“Don’t worry – you can pop into one of the cafés”. I was deliberately vague. There are no cafés on Ben Nevis, but I was banking on the biophilia effect kicking in to keep my team sweet.
We were sitting in the Nevis Centre, attracting sniggers from a team of beefy Welsh rowers as we unpacked our pre-climb picnic: trough of pasta, vat of cous cous, keg of lucozade and a crate of Mars bars. What prompted the attention, however, were the matching cloth napkins, plastic wine glasses and travelpack salt and pepper shakers. This was the fourth time I’d participated in the Four Peaks Challenge – I’d come prepared. At least, I thought I had…
At the foot of the Ben, Carly and Eileen did a false start and the hooks of my left knee support got caught in the loops of my right knee support, forcing me to bunny hop across the start line. I hoped this wasn’t a sign of things to come.
We didn’t hang around at the summit, where the landscape would make Mordor look like Mauritius.
Completed Ben Nevis in four hours and seven minutes. One down, three to go.
Friday 2 July 2010 (morning): Helvellyn (Lake District, England)
At 9am, we completed Helvellyn in one hour 56. At 10am I had my next encounter with the Welsh rowers, when I stumbled in a sleep and contact lens deprived stupor into the men’s shower room.
Friday 2 July 2010 (afternoon): Snowdon (Snowdonia National Park, Wales)
We realised, with surprise, that we’d done good times on the previous mountains and started to get competitive. We rallied each other over boulders and through streams, with the occasional insincere reminder that a fast time wasn’t worth breaking a leg for.
Finished at an all out sprint in two hours 33.
Saturday 3 July: Carantouhill (County Kerry, Ireland)
Boarded the ferry to Dublin at 1am. As I watched my Dad, aged 68, try to squeeze himself into a sleeping bag on a bench half his size, I felt a surge of guilt. I’d sold the challenge to him as a great opportunity for some ’father-daughter’ bonding time. Surely this could not have been what he bargained for.
After climbing three mountains and spending over 1000 miles in a cramped car, our legs were as stiff as planks, but we ran where we could and flew up and down the ominously named Devil’s Ladder.
Dad’s huge grin and yells of encouragement spurred us on to cross the finish line, elated, lungs bursting, in three hours 20. What we didn’t find out until later was that we had won the Carantouhill Award for the fastest time up the mountain, something never before accomplished by a ladies team.
Overall, we came ninth out of 44 teams. Of that number, only eight were ladies teams. We’d done our generous sponsors proud and raised approximately £5,000 for disadvantaged children throughout the UK. The event raised over £257,000 for Wooden Spoon. We’d cemented friendships, made new ones, worked as a team and pushed ourselves beyond what we thought we were capable of. Eileen, Carly, Dad and I agreed it was a wonderful experience. And we celebrated with the other teams until 4am on Sunday morning.
A few hours later, as we waved our final goodbyes, I found myself crying out:
“See you next year!”
Jenni Jenkins is a solicitor at Dawsons Solicitors