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Aug 24, 2020

G&T Adventurers Take on the Three Peak Challenge

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WRITTEN BY MATt BARTLETT, G&T ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR

G&T has a healthily competitive sports and social engagement programme that encourages employees to get to know others from across the business while taking part in sports and leisure activities. The current crisis has seen many of these activities put on hold during the first half of this year, however that hasn’t stopped our competitive spirit.

A team of G&T employees tackled the Three Peaks Challenge over a gruelling 24hours. Read on to hear the full account…

"Six intrepid adventurers met at a deserted London Gatwick airport to undertake the infamous National Three Peaks Challenge, climbing the tallest mountains of Scotland (Ben Nevis), England (Scafell Pike) and Wales (Snowdon) in under 24hours."

Matt Bartlett

G&T Associate Director

“The first test of all races is to get to the start-line without incident or injury and thankfully we escaped our short foray with public transport, EasyJet and militant car rental employees unscathed.

We tested our new steeds on the run down to Ben Nevis along the shores of Loch Ness (no sightings to report), comforted that our resident Kiwi’s driving licence was indeed worth the paper it was written on. A pre-race pizza and final kit checks at the bottom of Ben Nevis where our nerves were building and we were ready for the off at 1830hrs.

Gardiner & Theobald - Team Ben Nevis

John Meredith, raised in the Welsh mountains but made in the Royal Gurkha Rifles, set the early pace looking to prove he was fitter than the grey hairs in his beard suggest. With the rest of the team hanging on for dear life (and job security) we reached the summit of Ben Nevis in 2hrs with no view and only having to cross a small patch of snow! Meredith set an equally nimble pace on the way down, cementing his credentials as Mountain-Goat-in-Chief and we set off on the most dangerous element of the whole trip by 2200hrs - a 5hr night drive to Scafell Pike.

It’s important to note at this stage that the challenge is not just physical, but also mental. Sitting in a car with colleagues snoring deeply around you sometimes felt like being under duress at Guantanamo Bay. Fortunately, car A didn’t suffer overly from this torture due to their opting for speed over comfort in the form of a Jaguar. Crooked necks and sore backs their penance for aesthetics.

A gratefully uneventful night saw our arrival at Scafell Pike around 0300hrs, setting off into the darkness shortly thereafter. Once again Meredith took up position at the head of our motley crew but this time, Bartlett and Estrin crept ahead at the halfway mark and maintained the pace to summit in around 90mins (c. 0445hrs). We had hoped for dawn to break over the lake at Wasdale Head but instead a light cloud had descended, so again we were deprived our summit vista. Mercifully the cloud was only at the top so we did take in stunning views when we weren’t looking at the three feet in front of our own two feet on the way down!

Willis took the win from Bartlett and Estrin with a particularly underhand acceleration in the final 500m as you might expect of a Leicester Tigers fan. However, we had become strung-out on the descent and one of our number who was nursing tight hamstrings took a wrong turn leading to the wrong car park.

"A lesser-spotted Stuart Wyllie was brought back into the group after being AWOL for 30mins and we were back on the road, heading to Snowdon with two peaks in the bag."

As expected, the Snowdon car park was full (seemingly with Liverpudlians dressed for a night on the town, rather than a day on the mountain) so we parked up down the hill and taxi’d back to the start point to set off on the final ascent.

True to form, Meredith once again took the pack out of the blocks invigorated by the Welsh air in his lungs. But with youthful vim and vigour (ahem), Bartlett, Estrin and Willis made their summit bid working together in the breakaway. We were finally greeted with clear skies on a summit and were rewarded with a phenomenal 360 degree panorama of blue skies and green mountains. However the clock was still ticking and with the finish now in sight it was every man for himself on the descent. The quickest three crossed the line in a shade under 19hrs, another just after and the final two slightly later.

Gardiner & Theobald - Team Finish

All that remained was a victory lap back over the border to Shrewsbury for a well-deserved beer, feed and bed. Having planned the excursion in late January we were extraordinarily lucky with the timing of the opening of Scotland and Wales to allow us to participate. Clear roads and dry skies helped significantly with our overall time and we would highly recommend the challenge to any others needing a purpose to get rid of that dreaded COVID stone…!”

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