The Black Sheep Marathon is inspired by the 100 Peaks ethos to get outside and push your boundaries. After seeing a post by Karl on the be a Be A Black Sheep Facebook Page, asking us to encourage those around us to push our limits in whatever way we can, that the idea of a challenge that anyone can take on in whatever way they wished, came to me.
Hill reps are a great way for anyone to push as much as they wish and then could call it a day whenever they felt the had achieved what they set out to accomplish.
So I made a Facebook group and invited a few friends to like it and see what happened.
I went for a walk back up Jacobs ladder in Edale (my training ground as I live only 10 minutes by car away.) I'd forgotten how hard it was, they do say pain has no memory and it's true. Strava gave me a nice surprise at the top though. Exactly half a mile distance and 500 feet of elevation! Those stats clinched it for me the ultimate challenge would be 20 reps, a marathon but 7 reps combined with the walk to and from Edale car park (the chosen start/finish point) would make a half marathon.
It didn't take long for the Facebook page to hit 50 likes and when I created an event and 10 or so people said they were coming I realised that I needed to make this event more than just some nutter friends of mine coming for a harsh walk up and down a hill all day with me.
Race packs made with the help of Karl Rushen and his kind donation of some 100 Peaks merchandise and a medal I knocked up at home and at work and a few other goodies helped fill it out and make it something worth giving out, that was the hope at any rate.
The good thing with making up your own event is you get to make all the rules and be the soul arbiter in all matters, so with that in mind and this being a Black Sheep event we'll do things differently. The event is free, all we ask is a donation to the 100 Peaks fund raising total and everyone who makes it to the start-line (including supporters) will get a race pack with a medal!!
And so the day came and I was sat in Edale car park at 7am with the agreed start time of 8am sipping a coffee and hoping this would all go well. Over 20 brave souls made the trip and it was shocking to say the least. Even though people had responded to posts on the Facebook page you still don't hold people to there word you just sit in the car park and see who does turn up. Overwhelmed is an understatement with Black Sheep travelling for hours, and the length and breadth of the country to push their comfort zones.
Honourable mentiones go to Chris Dougherty, John Hunter and Andy Shaw, Paul Southernwood and Lesley Kemp who all travelled over 3/4 hours each way!! Just to be there...awesome! 8am arrived and we were off!!
With the sun shining a nice steady 3 mile walk to the base of Jacobs ladder was a very pleasant way to start what was going to be a tough day out. When all of us had assembled at Jacobs ladder the real challenge was about to start. It's important for me to note that this part of the challenge is where it gets personal for all taking it on. Not just that they will be alone with there inner demons but that this part is truly where everyone makes there own challenge of the Black Sheep Marathon. You could tackle it with a loaded bergen or clean fatigue or do as many did and start with the Bergen and ditch it if you wish and continue without the weight.
There truly was something in it for everyone.
I'm not going to say too much about how much of a challenge it turned out to be, if you were there you already know and if you weren't there then you'll have to enter next year's event and try it for yourself!!
One thing I will say however is the great hidden surprise and pleasure I discovered doing a hill rep event is you get to see all the others who are testing themselves (as you are) over and over again which means there are endless opportunities to support and offer encouragement to each other as we all suffer together. I found that to be a truly wonderful surprise and a great hidden benefit to the event that had never occurred to me before hand.
It was a great day out and as far as I can tell from the feedback those who made the effort to come enjoyed themselves and will be back again. What more could you ask for?
And so there will be another Black Sheep Marathon event and there will be a few new ideas to add to the fun of next year's event. The 20 Rep marathon total didn't get achieved so I was thinking maybe a 24 hour event category as well as the others.
This was a strange experience for me, putting myself out there in the public eye I'm usually a much quieter soul who's happy to keep himself to himself, this has taught me that pushing your comfort zones doesn't have to be about physical activity at all. It can be about doing something that you wouldn't otherwise do and being the person you want to be not some who you thought you were or should be.
Be the best you! Be a Black Sheep and be at the next one!! Or you'll regret it.