Challenge event for mental health awareness

A recent blog on this website describes our meeting with the people behind ‘The Stranger on the Bridge’ documentary and the ThinkWell campaign. Richard, the executive producer of the production company behind the documentary is keen to create a film of the adventure challenge I am planning for this August. As other people become interested and would like to be involved in some way, I realise that i can no longer call the adventure an idea. Suddenly the adventure becoming real.

Why mental health?

The challenge started out as a personal adventure, a journey I wanted to experience and document. The link with mental health came about due to mental health challenges recently coming to the fore with colleagues, close friends, and people I saw as always in ‘good health’. Little did I know. As we all begin to talk more about mental health, I wondered how I could play by part. The more I researched on mental health the more I realised that understanding the different pathways individuals can take to mental health well-being is a challenge in itself. My adventure was to have many different stages, whether on a bike, in a boat or in boots, promoting pathways for mental health was the link that felt right.

Stages of the challenge

Now that someone wants to help me film the challenge, I thought it only wise to start planning the adventure in more detail. The scraps of paper on my desk need to disappear. The idea, yes most of the details are still in their formative phase, is that the challenge is broken down into 20 stages over a 14 day period. The stages will allow anyone to come and join me, whether for a day on a bike, a paddle on one of the lakes, or perhaps a trek up one of the three mountains.

Interestingly, I noticed that if I planned the adventure in a certain format, not only could people join me for a stage, or consecutive stages if they felt adventurous, but they could take part in one of the following:

Adventure Triathlon (England, Scotland or Wales)
Join me on Day 5 for the Welsh canoe, cycle and trek triathlon challenge.
Join me on Day 8 for the English canoe, cycle and trek triathlon challenge.
Join me on Day 11 for the Scottish canoe, cycle and trek triathlon challenge.

 

EcoThree Peaks Challenge
Starting in the afternoon on Day 5 at the base of Snowdon, complete stages 7 through to 18, over a period of 6 days, and complete the National Three Peaks Challenge ‘eco-style’.

The challenge

The itinerary for the challenge is only provisional and is likely to change once I begin training on a bike and realise what 112 miles feels like on the bum and back! Planning the route meticulously will, I am sure, highlight that there are many more than 110 miles between Thursby and Glasgow for someone on a bike!

DAY Stage Detail Distance
DAY 1
Sat 12 Aug
1 Cycle – Lands End Visitor Centre to Okehampton 180 km
DAY 2
Sun 13 Aug
2 Cycle – Okehampton to Bristol 180 km
DAY 3
Mon 14 Aug
3 Cycle – Bristol to Llangurig 169 km
DAY 4
Tue 16 Aug
4 Cycle – Llangurig to Bala Lake 84 km
DAY 5
Wed 16 Aug
5

6

7

Canoe – Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake)  (1-2 hours)

Cycle – Bala Lake to YHA Snowdon Pen-y-Pass

Trek – Snowdon

11 km

48 km

5 hours

DAY 6
Thu 17 Aug
8 Cycle – Llanberis to Chorley 182 km
DAY 7
Fri 18 Aug
9 Cycle – Chorley to Newby Bridge Halt 103 km
DAY 8
Sat 19 Aug
10

11

12

Canoe – Lake Windermere  (2-4 hours)

Cycle – Ambleside to Great Langdale

Trek – Scafell Pike to Seathwaite

18 km

15 km

5 hours

DAYS 9-10
Sat 10 – Mon 21 Aug
(split into 2 days)
13

14

15

Cycle – Seathwaite to Thursby

Cycle – Thursby to Glasgow

Cycle – Glasgow to Ford

56 km

177 km

137 km

DAY 11
Tue 22 Aug
16

17

18

Canoe – Loch Awe  (4-9 hours)

Cycle – Kilchurn Castle to Fort William

Trek – Ben Nevis

40 km

86 km

6 hours

DAYS 12, 13 & 14
Wed 23 – Fri 25 Aug
(split into 3 days)
19

20

Cycle – Fort William to Ardgay

Cycle – Argay to Duncansby Head Lighthouse

185 km

184 km

Planning to prevent pain

The route will be refined, the distances more accurately displayed, and dates and duration confirmed as planning progresses. I will keep this hastily prepared timetable up here for prosperity, and wonder how close to the final plan it will be. I am a Mountain Leader so the mountain stages will be fine, and the canoe sections I know will be tough on the shoulders and back if my technique is poor, and motivationally tough if against a head wind. However, it is the cycling that I will need most support with in terms of knowledge, training ideas and motivation. I have a 2010 Kona HumuHumu singled speed cruiser bike at the moment. Ha! This bike just about gets me up Broomfield Hill in Richmond Park, although I’m generally accompanied by looks of astonishment and amusement by the pro-cyclists who zoom passed me.

I’m excited to get a proper road bike, learn a new skill and begin my cycling life (I hear it is a good one!). I am looking forward to treating the time on my bike like the experiences I often enjoy in the mountains. Battling fatigue with the distance in the legs, pain in my back with my poor posture, and the unpredictable weather the UK throws at us. Yet it is exactly all this that makes it so worthwhile, a cathartic experience that keeps bringing you back for more.

Get involved

If you would like to be involved in any way with the challenge, whether you would like to take part in one or more of the stages, or if you would like to sponsor the event in some way, then please do get in contact. Lots of opportunities to sponsor the website that will promote the charities (we need money to get a website live), and perhaps donations that can go direct to a mental health charity of your choice. The only things certain about this challenge is that I will need to go get a bike, buy some lycra, and ensure I keep you updated.

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