Thursday, 28 January 2016

The 100 Peaks Challenge - A Year On!


This time last year the embryonic scribblings for what the 100 Peaks Challenge has already become, began. Most will know that the Challenge began life as "Beyond the Last Blue Mountain – the Ally SkyGod Challenge". A mouthful and one that didn't roll off the tongue easily. It became a battle then of capturing the ethos of why it was called that in the first place (the tribute I wanted it to be for my little brother), and finding something succinct that would leave no confusion as to what we are trying to achieve.

A year on it's hard to believe how far the Project has come. The 100 Peaks Challenge is instantly recognisable and has seemingly captured the imagination of many. There is a complete Management and Support Team in place handling operations as well as a Training and Medical Team managing those that have registered for the Challenge.

Registration for the Full Challenge has already closed and the Information Packs and Training Trackers issued to those who have registered in time. It's now though that the serious work begins for those that have aspirations of making the team. The reality is we have to trim the current numbers to a manageable number for when the Challenge begins in May 2017.

The 'Selection' process ends on 23rd August this year and everyone will be monitored constantly between now and that date. However, the process will continue up to the Challenge start, even if you make the team, you can't rest on your laurels, getting selected for the team only means you're half way there and it's up to individuals to maintain that level. The commitment and desire that is being shown is exemplary and just watching the way others continually inspire the group as a whole is humbling.

There is so much energy and focus that it encourages all to step up and be better, be more. The training volumes are immense as are the numbers beasting themselves, the enthusiasm isn't just being shown by those aiming to take on the Full Challenge but those aiming to take part in Partial elements and by the support team too, it's truly awesome to witness. This is one amazing group of people, which extends to our families too. I know from a personal point of view what we all as individuals will have to sacrifice and that's precious time with those we love. You can't get that time back, so we have to be smart with our time and make the best of the time we have. This Challenge our families too, not exclusive to those who will march the hard yards, cycle the never ending miles and paddle hopeful with each stroke that land will begin to appear.

I would encourage you to ensure that on this journey, you bring your families along too, without them we are only half as strong as we could be. We will need them more than it is possible to quantify, the next nine months are going to be brutal, the period beyond that more brutal still. The training recces alone will be 3/4/5 days of constant battering, up at dawn, done at sunrise, eat, sleep and go again all the while administering ourselves, and going hard for a long time. It's at that point after those slogs when we will need them most to help us remember why we're doing this. Use the love it's our most powerful weapon and the one that will ultimately see us win.

Talking of wining and the reason we're taking this on, our Goal is to raise a minimum of £100,000.00 for ABF The Soldiers Charity and Support our Paras. Shortly we will release the new Fundraising Packs and during the course of this year we will be staging various Fundraising events, the first of which will be the Official Challenge Launch on 21st May. Most of you will be aware that we have a Jump Day with the Red Devils organised in August, 30 people will jump that day and if everyone hits their minimum Target we'll raise £13,500.00 from that one event.

ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is the National Charity of the British Army. Formerly known as the Army Benevolent Fund, it was established in 1944 and exists to offer a lifetime of support to soldiers, veterans and their immediate families in times of need. They provide financial assistance to individuals and their dependants, and make grants to charities and other organisations which deliver specialist support on their collective behalf.

Support our Paras provide welfare assistance to serving soldiers and families to complement or fill the gaps in State provision, as well as supporting vital aspects of the Regiment’s daily life and history. That support includes Mobility equipment and disability conversion of vehicles, Funding remedial courses and help to assist those recovering from wounds, Funding vocational courses and help to assist soldiers in transitioning into civilian life, Funding sporting equipment for the wounded and for Regimental teams, Funding Adventurous Training expeditions for serving troops, Assistance with travel and other costs on compassionate grounds.

The Challenge has already received serious recognition from Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Dan Jarvis MP who have both given their backing to what we are trying to achieve. On top of that we have been extremely fortunate to gain the endorsements of Andy Torbet and Phil Campion who are both acting as Challenge Ambassadors. Ken Jones will act as a Patron and we've been incredibly fortunate to add Richard Villar to the team as Medical Officer. Add to that, I have been selected by Ordnance Survey to be one of their #GetOutside Champions for 2016.

We will on 14th May officially launch the Challenge, that launch will be an opportunity to have everyone together and to focus attentions that a year from that date we'll be pretty ready to go. The event will be held at Cpl Bryan Budd VC Gym at Merville and will also see Barrie Williams have a crack at the Guinness World Record for distance covered on a rower in 24hrs, there will some fundraising activities and an army curry filling our bellies ready for The Paras'10 the following morning! So save the date, this is your Challenge and we'd love to see as many of you there as possible.

2015 has been an amazing year, 2016 promises to be even more incredible, if you're reading this and thinking that you'd like to get involved in this Challenge and Support us, and help us deliver this exciting project then please contact us, be part of something special, "nothing is as strong as team spirit" #BeInspired #BeInspiring.....

A Champion!?


Back in October I'd been alerted to Ordnance Surveys #GetOutside Campaign.

Are You a Champion of the Outdoors? Was the question.

I thought why not lets write a little ditty about what we're trying to achieve with The 100 Peaks Challenge and see what happens, I wrote: 


"I wanted to try and create the single biggest endurance event ever staged in the UK taking in all four countries – Scotland, England (inc. Isle of Man), Ireland and Wales, involving as many willing participants as possible, across three disciplines, tabbing, cycling and kayaking, and claiming 100 peaks above 2000ft in 25 days.


Inspire is not a word I would use to describe myself, the Challenge I've created however, I hope does and the reasons behind its creation and the causes we are taking the Challenge on for certainly do. The Challenge has been created as a tribute to my little brother, he was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2011 and ever since I've used various Challenges as a means to try and do something positive and raise as much money as possible for military charities. The 100 Peaks Challenge has been created as 'sign off' event for the current fundraising effort with the goal of raising £100,000.00.

The Challenge will involve tabbing 100 Peaks, cycling between summit lines and peak regions and Kayaking across the Irish Sea. The 25 day duration is to symbolise the length of my little brothers last tour, beginning on the day he deployed (23.05.17) and finishing on the day he was killed (16.06.17). To date we have over 100 people registered as taking the Challenge on in some form, 40 which are interested in taking on the Full Challenge. It promises to be an epic event and journey for all who are part of it.


I love the outdoors, when I'm not working, I spend most of my time outdoors, whether that be with my trainers on or in the hills with my boots and pack on. With The 100 Peaks Challenge the aim is to not only create a legacy for my brother in support of the Charities we are raising funds for, but to also create a Challenge and Challenges within the build up period, that will inspire others to join us and be part of the Challenge and to also engage as many people as possible with our fundraising efforts. One such event is a jump day with the Red Devils next August (we have 30 people booked on the plane and ready to jump). We are also planning to takeover the Milton Keynes marathon, among many other events we'll be attending and creating in the next 18 months. As well as the legacy for my brother I want this to be an event that everyone who takes part in can share with their families with the hope that our children will be inspired by what we aim to achieve and go on to enjoy the Outside and all it has to offer as much as we do."

On the 25th November I received this letter back from the OS.

Dear Karl,

OS #GetOutside Campaign - OS Champion 2016

As you know, Ordnance Survey has been looking to recruit a small number of outdoor enthusiasts to become Get Outside Champions, to inspire and motivate family, friends, colleagues, children, and wider communities to ‘get outside’ and enjoy the British landscape. 

Having received numerous applications and nominations from people across Great Britain, we are delighted to select you to become one of our Champions for 2016. 

To say I was a little taken aback at first was an understatement, but since I've had time to reflect on how big a thing it is, I'm honestly proud that off the back of what we've achieved to date with The 100 Peaks it's been recognised as being something that could inspire others to #GetOutside.

So what does that mean? I guess that I'll be bugging you all to join in making sure that I make good on that promise to engage as many people as possible in The 100 Peaks Challenge and the whole build up process, you have been warned! You may need to get out of your comfort zone, but you don't need to think outside the box when it comes to being part of The 100 Peaks Challenge - you just need to ‪#‎GetOutside‬

On the 2nd Feb I'll be going down to the big smoke (like any normal day really) but instead for a Photoshoot Day with my Fellow Champions for 2016. It really is an exciting time and one I hope that really helps us grow the Challenge and what it's trying to achieve even further. 

For those that don't know much about the campaign, below is some background to the #GetOutside campaign.

Ordnance Survey launched the #GetOutside campaign to urge people off the sofa, to ditch the car and to enjoy the outdoors. Nick Giles, Managing Director for Ordnance Survey Leisure, says: “We are in danger of becoming disconnected from our own landscape. The benefits of exercising and getting regular fresh air are already well documented, but more needs to be done to get that message across, which is where our #GetOutside champions come in.

Have a look at the Ordnance Survey website to find out what the #GetOutside campaign is all about, to be inspired is great, to inspire is incredible.

#BeInspired #BeInspiring #GetOutside

A little catch up - Paras 10 Colly

It's been a while since I've written a post and there's possibly a fair bit to bring everyone up to speed on! It's been a bit of a crazy 12 months or so since the details of The 100 Peaks Challenge were announced, most of my spare time is taken up now either training for or planning the Challenge, luckily I have a very understanding wife and some incredible people doing all they can to make it happen and reduce the burden.

Firstly we'll start with The Paras'10 at Colly back in November! With posts on Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion, Winter Fan Dance and 100 Peaks Update to follow.....

PARAS'10 COLCHESTER - 15.11.15

My first effort at the Paras'10 was back in September 2012 at Catterick, myself and so many incredible friends (17 in total) signed up for that event, it seems like time ago now. But that event alone was the catalyst for what has since gone and what is still to come.

This was No. 6 and still I hadn't got anywhere near close to breaking the 1hr 50, the closest I'd got was 1hr 58 at Colly in 2012. This year though with The 100 Peaks Challenge really beginning to take shape and the discipline that I've instilled in myself with my training over the last 18 months, I knew that standing on the start line I'd be in a fairly decent place this time. We arrived in good time and were greeted by 100 Peaks Tees everywhere and our own tent set up on Abbey Field courtesy of Dave and Ness and Agile Momentum. The momentum with which the Challenge has gathered has been amazing and it still humbles me seeing so many incredible people representing it and puffing out their chests and cracking on.

Having been delayed from July earlier in the year due to the heat there was no such issue on a typical November day! As is customary now I have my family and close friends there to wave us off and I get a massive buzz from that. When the gun went off I just remember settling in to a nice pace early, almost bumping into Bear at the gates going into barracks, I think he'd literally sprinted from his van and over the start line, it's not like Bear to be late! 

The course was wet as expected and the crossings fun as always, and all in all my race was relatively uneventful, in so much as every time I glanced at my watch I was averaging 10/11min miles, so if I could maintain that I knew I'd be in with a chance of finally breaking 1hr 50. I remember seeing Pete Lavelle a few hundred yards ahead of me at about 5 miles and thought if I can keep him in sight I know I'll be there or there abouts come the end. 

By the time we were making our way back out of Friday Woods I'd caught Pete up, we chatted a little and cracked on. I started to get a little nervous about my time, it's 2 miles from that stretch back to the finish line and I was 1hr 25 to that point, it was touch and go if I didn't maintain the pace I was going at. I dug in and as I got to the gates I could hear the crowd cheering those that were crossing the finish line and half way on to the field, all of a sudden I could hear my lot shouting my name. I gave a little spurt and crossed the line in 1hr 45. A new PB by some 13 minutes, the training and the effort put in over the months, there and then highlighted. After 6 attempts I allowed myself a proud smile when I was greeted by my family and gave them all honking hugs! 

As well as my family being a wonderful part of this, this event was responsible for creating this incredible family that I feel very fortunate to be part of and what's more to see them all crossing the finish line with the 100 Tees on is beyond amazing, the next Paras'10 at Colly in May this year promises to be very special indeed!

Big love to you all!