Chrissie Wellington is pretty talented at back-to-back running and cycling, to say the least - she was awarded an MBE for outstanding achievements in triathlon. However, the latest challenge the British athlete has set herself is a bit different...
She’s no stranger to doing things differently - Chrissie is the only triathlete ever to have won the World Championship less than a year after deciding to go pro. Not only did she defend her World title in 2008, 2009 and (after missing the race in 2010 due to illness) regain it in 2011, she also smashed many world records related to ironman-distance triathlon racing along the way.
Then, describing her 2011 win as the ‘perfect race’ which ‘completed’ her, the World Champion formally stepped down from racing in 2012 to focus on different challenges. One of these new goals is taking on a controversial British mountain challenge, but with an unusual twist, which involves her key sports skills.
Some consider the Three Peaks Challenge a victim of its own popularity. The money raised for good causes by some of the people attempting to climb Scotland, Wales and England’s highest peaks within 24 hours is offset by the litter, excrement, noise of minibuses, mountain rescue call-outs and erosion problems they emit. See our article The Three Peaks Challenge - What Do You Think?
However, Chrissie and a team of three other endurance athletes aim to minimise their impact by attempting the challenge using man-power alone. The plan for the self-organised ‘4321 Challenge’ is to cycle the 450 miles between the three peaks. That’s 450 miles of road cycling.
It would be impossible to complete the challenge in the classic 24 hour deadline, even if you happened to be a World Champion runner and cyclist, so the team have set themselves a time limit of 48 hours. That’s still a pretty tight timescale, so they’ll also have to run up each of the peaks, which amounts to 27 miles of mountain running.
“We’d heard about people doing a ‘Pure 3 Peaks’ - cycling between the peaks and completing the challenge in four days. We liked the idea and decided to up the stakes a bit,” Chrissie’s teammate, Matt Edwards, told me.
Matt and the other team members joining Chrissie - Marcus Mumford and Alex Prince - all have a good level of experience in conventional endurance events, but this challenge is beyond what any of them have attempted before.
Even Chrissie herself, who commented: “I’ve got a few Ironman titles under my belt but nothing compares to my fear of undertaking this challenge. I usually get to stop at around nine hours – this time I have to keep going for 48! It’s going to be one of the hardest things I have ever done, but hopefully the most gratifying and definitely the most fun. It’s a fantastic opportunity to raise money for two hugely worthwhile causes while also ticking my masochistic box.”
In the run-up to the challenge, the team are raising money and awareness for the Rainbow Trust who support the families of terminally ill children in the UK; and Jole Rider, who run cycling development projects for children in the Gambia.
These causes are close to Chrissie’s heart: she firmly believes that sport can make a real difference to children’s lives, and years spent in Nepal showed her that sport can bring many other benefits - even bring war-torn communities together.
“We have the power to change things,” the triathlete said. “And sport is one vehicle for doing so. It has the power to build bridges, to empower, to teach, to heal – this is what triathlon and every other sport should be about. I hope that I can, in a small way, help to inspire people to take up sport, realise their own dreams and their full potential.”
If you feel inspired to donate to their cause visit the Challenge website: http://4321challenge.org/
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The 4321 Challenge