Something extraordinary happened at the Mount on Saturday. Our pint sized designer, Andrea, climbed the Mount 38 times in 24 hours for the Mount Everest Challenge to raise money for Waipuna Hospice.
When our pint-sized young designer told us she was doing the Mt Everest challenge, we had heard it entailed climbing the Mount 38 times over a period of 50 days at your own pace to raise money for charity. This sounded like a reasonable challenge, and not out of the ordinary.
But when she clarified that she was going to do the full 38 climbs in 24 hours, that made us sit up and take notice. We knew she was a gym bunny, and did the odd half-marathon, but this sounded like an impossible goal, and one only taken on by serious elite sportspeople, who even then would surely think twice. The maths didn’t add up – how could you complete that continuously over 24-hours.
Not to be deterred, she quietly went about her planning regime with no fuss, setting herself a training schedule and consulting a nutritionist to make sure she was hydrated and correctly energised to complete the task, especially during a hot summer’s day.
Some of us were slightly cynical – who in their right mind would even attempt such a thing, especially when she was flying solo, with no team of likeminded athletic junkies to share the burden with, or no tag-teaming – this was just one girl, one Mount, and 24hours to complete her goal.
At 1am on Saturday morning, when most of her friends were just arriving home from a night on the town, she set out with her headlamp, 38 pink hair ties on her wrist for counting, and her dedicated partner Jarrod at her side for security in the dark, to start her quest. By sunrise the regular fitness runners started arriving to do their regular morning run of one or two climbs, unaware that she had already completed her first 10, and was well on her way.
During the morning, her faithful backup crew consisting of Mum and Dad, Grandparents and friends starting arriving and setup a base camp. The only tell tale sign of what was unfolding was a blackboard against the fence, which if you blinked you missed, that had a row of numbers from 0 to 38 which were being methodically crossed off as the day unfolded.
There was no hoopla – no pomp and penance – no neon signs saying “Look at Me”, no bright coloured T-shirt saying “Look out – I’m coming through…”, just one determined girl dressed in simple black running gear, biting off the elephant, one bite at a time.
She had support from her friends who came and went, and did the odd lap to cheer her on – her partner Jarrod probably did more laps than he intended to keep her company, but her determination never faltered, and she kept up her lap time of under 30 minutes in order to keep to her timeline.
Chrstine caught up with Andrea at midday to give some morale support. Her first words during a break were "what have you been doing this morning?" Christine couldn’t believe she would even have the energy to ask such a question – why should she care what I had been doing – but she still had a smile on her face, and a non-complaining attitude. Even a sore foot wasn’t a deterrent. By this stage she had completed 24, and had to dig deep because of the heat.
Day trippers were now on the Mount – and in anyone’s language, when you are not used to that climb, it is challenging, even if you think you are reasonably fit. But these didn’t slow her down – although she did say that when she passed them red-faced and huffing a little (as you would), they looked at her as if to say, “it isn’t that hard!!”. Little did they know she was already up to 26 odd climbs.
When Christine caught up with her again, it was 8pm. She had obviously had her ups and downs, but she had just completed 34 climbs, with 4 to go, and it was now only a matter of time. It was very clear she was going to make it, and Christine couldn’t help but be in awe at her sheer determination and her mindset. This is a huge undertaking, not just physically, but mentally. We thought only extreme elite athletics took on this sort of challenge.
As Christine was sitting on Omanu Beach at 9.30 with her family she looked up the Mount and saw small lights on the Mount track and wondered which light was hers. Everyone else would have gone home – apart from her parents and partner who were still with her.
How did she spend her last lap? Her flatmates turned up with speakers, her favourite music, and were with her at the end. She completed her last lap at 10.45pm and by 12.15am she celebrated with a soak in a cold bath and a burger!!!
Why did she do it? Obviously a personal challenge, but her main objective was raising money for charity – Waipuna Hospice. An example of an ordinary person doing an extraordinary thing. We are in total awe of her achievement, and think it should be celebrated.