The Trip to Remember
The Trip to Remember, a 150 mile endurance challenge from Dublin to Snowdon, has lived up to its name – as well as its billing as one of the toughest UK based challenges of the year. The 14-strong team (supported by a crew of 6 volunteers) cycled, rowed and hiked the route in 33 hours and 17 minutes, smashing the self-imposed limit of 36 hours. The event was organised to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society and has so far generated nearly £3,000 in sponsorship.
With the help of Margaret Bowling and Nate Fulcher, both experienced Expedition Managers, David Bedford had been planning the UK based endurance challenge for seven months; planning the logistics and building a team capable of living up to the challenge. Having finalised the team in the weeks leading up to the event it included some well known adventurers such as round the world cyclist, Mark Beaumont, endurance runner, Mark Cooper, and Tasman Sea rower, Shaun Quincey.
The adventure began on Saturday 9th July at Merrion Square Park in Dublin, from where the team headed south on a 45 mile bike ride that would take them along the Irish Coastline to Arklow. With a few diversions along the way and three punctures, they actually covered 51 miles in a little over 4 hours. Once in Arklow they loaded up the support vessel and about an hour later the first shift of rowers began the crossing of the Irish Sea.
For the row the team split into three crews of five, rowing in 90 minute rolling shifts. To make up the numbers, experienced Ocean Rower Shaun Quincey joined the crew. The crossing to Porthmadog was estimated to take 20 hours meaning the team would row through the night and expect to land early on Sunday afternoon. However, no-one had attempted a crossing like this before in their choice of vessel – a surf rowboat – so the team had prepared for the possibility of a longer time.
Despite bad weather earlier in the week, the crossing went smoothly with very calm seas. The crew stayed in good spirits throughout the night and by 10:00am were rowing along the south coast of the Lleyn peninsula accompanied by a pod of dolphins that enjoyed playing in the wake of the support vessel. In total the row lasted 21 and a half hours, the tired crew finally landing in Porthmadog at 3:30pm to a warm welcome from the Porthmadog Rowing Club.
After quick showers, and some revitalising bacon sandwiches, the team left Porthmadog at 4:30pm for the final destination, Snowdon. The peak was 15 miles and a 1,085 meters climb away, a tough walk on any occasion but made tougher by the fact that the team had now been moving for 28 hours. With a new goal of completion inside 34 hours the team attempted to finish the walk in 6 hours which seemed ambitious but spurred them on to push past what felt like their physical limits.
Setting off at a fast pace the crew covered the initial 10 miles to the foot of the Watkin Path in 3 hours. They began the Watkin path with 2 hours and 50 minutes to the 34 hour limit; at the best of times a time under 2.5 hours would be impressive so they knew they had to push right to the end.
The Watkin Path is known to be the most arduous route up the mountain with extremely steep sections and a technical scramble at the top. Despite their fatigue the team kept each other motivated and completed the climb in 2 hours and 20 minutes. The total time was 33 hours and 17 minutes and the team’s efforts were rewarded with a magnificent view of the sun setting over the Irish Sea.
Despite the high calibre of some of the team members, which included Atlantic Rowers and round the world cyclist, Mark Beaumont, everyone agreed that it had been one of their toughest challenges to date. However, having raised almost £3,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society already – and donations are still being taken – they all agreed that it had been worthwhile.