The End?

Well, what a year it’s been. I can remember this time last year thinking – “I wonder if this time in a year I’ll have completed all 12 challenges?” And here I am, 12 challenges down, proof that if you really want to do something, you can.

People have asked me what the “best” challenge has been or what was the “hardest” one was and it’s only when I sit down and think through them all that you realise they’re all different in so many ways. Some were more physical such as the marathon and some more mentally challenging like toughmudder. It’s hard to put a finger on which one I enjoyed the most though, as when I look back on them, they all make me smile and feel content that I did them and happy that money was being raised for a great cause along the way!

It hasn’t been easy mind. Training for these different challenges has definitely pushed me in terms of fitness but i’d say 2012 was the fittest I’ve ever been. I’ve enjoyed the training though as people who know me will no doubt agree.  I’d say the toughest part of the training was the running aspect. Running round the airport 3 times with a backpack on is not my idea of fun any more. In fact, running on the road along a normal town street now bores me too death but I have discovered the sheer thrill of running down mountains and along trails instead!

As some of you also know, at the beginning of marathon training I planned to try and maintain my size” and weight but found out that in fact, it is completely useless and subsequently lost over a stone in the process, even while eating like a horse. I am now, after 2 or so months eventually starting to build back up again. I may do another marathon again, maybe a more difficult one but find the distance a little dull. 10km is my style i’ve come to realise. Never the less, when you put your mind to something, it’s amazing what you can achieve and finishing the marathon in well under 4 hours, and not a flat marathon like London at that, is proof, that anyone can do it if they try.

The year alone has taught me that if you want to do something, then instead of just saying you’re going to do it, you have to make a commitment to it by making one small step. This could be anything like booking the time off work, paying a deposit or registering for a ballot (Want to do the GNR this year, now’s the time to register!?) etc. It’s that first move that’s the hardest but the one that you look back on and thank yourself for doing it.
They say the hardest part about going for a run is getting out the front door. Well the same applies here. I found that if I just concentrated on the small steps first, like planning or picking a date and booking it off work then the rest just happened and I NEVER regretted it. You always regret not going for a run or out for on the bike, but you never regret going….
Selecting to do something for a charity is another great way to motivate you as well and raises money for great causes along the way!

Overall, the year has been amazing. I’ve met some incredible people along the way, people you don’t realise are out there until you break out of the everyday bubble.  Inspiring people, people who have done amazing things in their lives, people who make you laugh, smile and say wow, people who just think like you and people who want more from life than the typical 9-5 and xFactor. I’ve learned a lot about myself too, a lot about what I enjoy the most and a lot about other people along the way. I’ve learnt that the old cliche of ” you only live once” is more true than ever…

My goal for 2012 was to raise as much money for Children with Cancer UK as I could by completing as many challenges as I could. This then turned into 12 Challenges for 2012 for obvious reason. The support and messages have been literally amazing! I never expected anything like what I received over the year, both in encouragement and people interested in joining me, doing something a bit different like on an expedition, trip, challenge, adventure etc and I can’t wait.

A must pay a special thank you to my employer RVL Group, who pledged such a significant donation to the Children with Cancer UK and one that really made the whole year a success in term of fund raising! I am forever grateful for their support and genuinely can’t thank them enough!

I’ve said it before, but i’ll say it again – the whole year has been amazing and one that i’ll not be forgetting any time soon. It’s made me realise that I love challenging myself, I love the outdoors, I love adventure, I love travelling, whether to new countries or to new places around just around the UK, I love the peace and serenity getting into a challenge/adventure/expedition that it offers and the way it refreshes the soul with a love for life all over again and, admittedly, I quite like scaring myself a little to see how I react too.

I want to and will be continuing with more adventures in 2013. Maybe not as many as 2012, but definitely BIGGER. Watch this space…

A recap of the Challenges:

Challenge 1

Cycle 150 miles across the county via the Coast to Coast route, taking all off road options in 3 days! – COMPLETE, 15th & 16th March 2012

With Tom Simpson, Chris Leeding and Steve Jones.

Challenge 2

Complete an Adventure Triathlon, off-road run, mountain bike, kayak & obstacles course! – COMPLETE, 24th March 2012

With David Riley & Mark Edwards

Challenge 3

Complete the National 3 Peaks Challenge, climbing the 3 tallest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales in 24hrs!
(4409ft, 3209ft and then to finish a 3560ft climbs, all in 24hrs!) – COMPLETE in 23hrs 1 min! 2nd, 3rd & 4th June 2012

With Barry Griffin, Gary Grierson and Jimmy Rutledgex2

Challenge 4

Complete the BUPA Great North Run 2012 Half Marathon – 13.1 miles COMPLETE – 1:42:24S 

Challenge 5

Complete the Peak District Mountain Bike Challenge, 36 miles, 6000ft of ascent and everything the peak district can through at you! – COMPLETE 29th Sept 2012.

With Dave Connor

Challenge 6

River Wye Inflatable Kayak Challenge – 100km in 2 days.  COMPLETE 2nd & 3rd October 2012 – Write up to follow!

With Edd Shields 

Challenge 7

Gore-Tex Fan Dance Challenge – Attempt the SAS Selection Route over highest mountain in South Wales, twice – 14 miles.
COMPLETE – 2:53:27 Read Event Results here

Challenge 8

Complete the Salomon Keilder Marathon – 26.2 miles of HILLS!! 
COMPLETE 3hr 51min 52sec

With Barry Griffin and Gary Gierson

Challenge 9

Complete Toughmudder Challenge – “ Probably the toughest event on the planet! (check out: toughmudder.co.uk) – COMPLETE, 18th November 2012. Possibly the coldest i’ve EVER been.

With Barry Griffin, Rich Waumsley and Andrew Taylor

Challenge 10

Complete the Winter Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge – COMPLETE, 11th December 2012. 7hrs 10mins. Got caught on the last mountain at night and in snow. Good times… was pleased I packed a head torch and warm clothes! 

Challenge 11

Newcastle Dales 10km Hill Race – COMPLETE 2nd December 2012

Completing then a 10km, half marathon and a marathon.

Challenge 12

12 Summits Challenge, Lake District – COMPLETE, 1st Jan 2013.  A truly great, tough challenge to end on! We were battered all day by the elements but fell running along the ridge in horrendous conditions was brilliant! 

Attempt 1 was called off due to weather on the summits, however attempt 2 was successful on 1st Jan 2013. with slightly “better” conditions. 7hrs 16mins. 14 miles. Summits:  Seat Sandal (736 m) – Fairfield (873 m) – Dollywaggon Pike (858 m) – Nethermost Pike (891 m) – Helvellyn (950 m) Helvellyn – Lower Man (925 m) – White Side (863 m) – Raise (883 m) – Stybarrow Dodd (843 m) – Watson’s Dodd (789 m) – Great Dodd (857 m) – Clough Head (726 m)  – PUB. 

With Andrew Chandler

For everyone who said they would sponsor me once i’d done them all – now’s the time! 😉

To sponsor, please visit my justgiving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/smithschallenge2012 

Thank you once again to everyone who has donated and supported me throughout, it has REALLY has made a difference!

There are one or two write ups i’ve yet to publish including the Kayak Challenge and the most recent 12 Summit Challenge blogs. These will be put up over the coming days with pictures!

Cheers and Happy New Year!

Steve

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