Roseberry Topping to Everest!

By Tompky - 5:46 AM

Last weekend brought about Challenge Number 11, a challenge that was a little different to any of the ones I had undertaken prior.  I had selected a well-known local landmark, Roseberry Topping, standing 320 metres above sea level, and was going to hike up it and back down 31 times in a row, matching the height required to climb to the top of Mount Everest in an Everest expedition.

I had kept a close eye on the whether all week, and with parts of the country flooded and the rain pouring down pretty much everywhere else it became apparent that the conditions were going to be less than ideal.  The plan was to get up at 6am, have the same breakfast I usually have ahead of these challenges, a big bowl of porridge, and head across for a 7am start.  It was very dark heading across, however as we approached Roseberry Topping it was like someone had flicked a switch, and whilst it was still raining it was bright enough to at least see where I was placing my feet.

I initially started off in a hat, gloves, under layer, t-shirt, hoody, tracksuit bottoms and leggings, as it was just above freezing starting out.  I also knew it would be vital to get up and down as quickly and as safely as possible each time, so decided against walking boots and to start off in trainers. 

I am generally a fairly average climber, and struggle to attack hills with any sort of pace, so from the first attempt it was more of a trudge to the top than anything else.  Where I generally do make time up and have done in ultramarathons in the past is that I am fairly quick when going downhill.  After summit number 1 I turned to run back down, and almost immediately realised that the footwear I had chosen were totally unsuitable for the weather and terrain and started slipping and sliding all over the place.  This went on through attempts 2 and 3, at which point I decided to change footwear.  A quick call to my trusty support team, mam, dad and girlfriend, and they had brought my hockey shoes which provided extra grip, although weren’t quite fit as snugly as my trainers which caused blister problems of their own, but at least I could stand up!!

I consistently kept moving at around 25 minutes per up and down, which had me on course for a finish inside the 15 and a half hours I had set aside.  The people of Teesside were amazing throughout, and many of them stopped and asked what I was doing it for, how many times I was going up and down, and how I was feeling.  Combined with the support team being brilliant and keeping me motivated, it made what could have been a very mentally draining challenge a bit easier, and although my legs really felt it, I didn’t really suffer from any of the negative thoughts that I usually come up against about not being able to finish etc.  The big difference was seeing familiar faces so often, its amazing what a 30 second chat with your family can do for your motivation, and I am a massive advocate of strategically placing them at key points through races that you can count down to seeing them.

My fuelling strategy for the challenge was to have a small snack every 2 summits, and have a decent sized meal every 5 summits, which equated to eating every hour with a decent meal every 2 and a half hours or thereabouts.  Again, this seemed to work well for me, and meant I avoided any bonking that I have occasionally suffered through the endurance challenges.

The middle part of the challenge was the seemingly toughest, but fortunately I had 5 friends turn up after 16 summits, who walked with me and kept me company between numbers 16-20.  Again, this was a massive help to the mental aspect of this challenge, and those summits seemed to go quickly and easily.

When they left, I had 11 to go, and at this point my dad walked up with me, and stationed himself at the summit, with my girlfriend and mam at the bottom.  This meant that rather than seeing someone every 25 minutes, I was seeing people every 10-15 minutes which all helped to drag me closer to the line.

My legs were sore from pretty much number 5 onwards, but with the right food, drink and support I was able to keep going, and in truth they never really got any worse.  Climbing up the 31st time, I had a massive sense of relief and as I reached the top my dad was there to give a big hug and say congratulations.  We then climbed down together for the final descent and met my mam and Ellie at the bottom for more hugs and celebrations.

Afterwards there was quite a bit of hype locally about it, and I was invited on to local radio to talk about the challenges and raising money from Great Ormond Street which was great to help spread a bit of awareness.  This challenge probably affected my legs more than any of the others, and I was still feeling it in my calves a week after so I have had to take a good 7-10 days totally off whilst my body recovers, before training starts for the final challenge of the year, 12 marathons in 12 days which I am dubbing – ‘The 12 Marathons of Christmas!’

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I am trying really hard to hit £10,000 before the years out so please donate anything you can!

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  1. Well done on achieving that. Many people struggle with just one ascent in a day!