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3 Peak Challenge

Author: Daniel
Year: Adventure

An early morning start was a must: July heat wave, plenty of water would be key and so would starting the race early before the heat trashes people. Three mountain peaks need to be completed in under twenty four hours. Many try but the sheer distance and terrain itself make it no mean feat.

At the line we stole a glance at the competition: giants. Here stood pure gym monsters with shaved heads glistening in the morning sun. All were readying their stuff, repacking bags, putting tape over fingers ready for blisters and waiting for hell to start. Each team is six men, between which we had to carry an ammo crate, ropes and D-rings to rig stuff together over the obstacles. All this whilst being timed; every second counts. The ammo crate is eighty kilos, far from easy, mostly the SAS team succeed every year however regimental pride and a big, ugly sergeant pushes you forward.

"3, 2, 1. GO" The sound of gravel under foot, grunts swearing, "Come on boys." Trade one day of pain and sacrifice to stand tall amongst the best and be part of that breed of warriors. Lifting the box, running down a forest track, knowing we would soon start upwards on the first peak. "CHANGE." The two resting at the back take over and the other pair rest. The idea of having new strength at the back, fresh meat, pushes us harder. Our first goal is to chase down the team in front like Lurchers on a hare. Eyes focus on the prize, seeing the team in front, hunt them down and pass them. We could hear the team up ahead, which gives us a boost and we push more. Crush them, pass them, rounding the next forest track.

Up ahead, we see our first team to pass. "Come on boys! Push! Let's break these useless, lazy twats!" After ten minutes you could hear them swearing, struggling with the ammo crate and slagging each other for not working as a team. Onwards we charge; gritted teeth, chasing the prize then, BANG. Up ahead they fall over each other, dropping the crate. Down they go like a wounded animal giving in to the hunter. The colour of their tops, the smell of their fear and the clashing of bone on metal crate. As we pass them we consume their fight, their will to get up. To the sound of "You are shit give up," and other caring comments we run on like a well-oiled machine. 1st is 1st, 2nd is nothing.

We start to head up the first peak and start to shout words of encouragement out to each other, like, "Come on Danny! You lazy sod!" "CHANGE." As I go to the back for my rest time, I now have to read the map and call out changes in route. Funny that at the back running along I feel guilty for not struggling with the crate. I'm almost missing the joy of pain. Team work: we all live together and work as a skilled unit. "Here, it gets a lot steeper boys. Brace for it. No one drop that crate or I will kick your teeth so far down ya throats." All you hear is a few laughs.

Half way up the peak we pass one more group. On to the top and down over the side. Class. "This is the easy part boys! Two to go, so grit your teeth."

"CHANGE." Back at the rear, I settle in to the rhythm of grunts, pain and the taste of blood in my mouth. The anger in silence is powerful. This is our job as front line troops. We can't quit, can't rest. You stop, they die. Simple.

"2nd peak blues," we all call out. Time for a change. In front again, "Force the pace boys, pick it up. I want a charge to the 2nd peak. Can ya do it?" Heads down, marching on, we pick up a bit faster. Every mile feels like ten but we don't know how to give in. They're up ahead. We see the solute of the 2nd peak looming. God it's never going to get here, then, "STOP." We are told to put the ammo crate down. "Take a rest: eat and drink for a bit." We call it quick: mars bar and a swig of warm water. The look on the other teams' faces as we pick our crate back up whilst they're still eating. "Let's go boys! We do this for fun." Hard-core army, we start to march and make it look good. Once round the corner we run. Grunt, bleed, charge onwards.

After the 2nd peak we put our heads down for the last push. We'd made The Chase and the Brow Breaker, now for Endurance. The last peak where many give up, not to blame them. As we pounded on we enter the forest, the last uphill. Here we go, coming up against barbed wire fences. The first two people jump over and we pass the crate over to them while the rest of the team follow. After hours of running we are broken but we are wired to be the best. Bite down and charge. We don't know any different, destroyers of men, war soldiers. Onwards, upwards. As we charge out the woods, we see the final peak up ahead. One last push. "God I want to die. Is this worth it?"

We never did beat the SAS boys. To be honest we didn't even see them, but we set the best time that year. Most of all, we crushed our enemies and never stopped. Endurance through good hard training is 2nd to nothing.