How hard could it be? A gentle stroll, in some of England’s most beautiful rolling countryside with 1,500 other people to keep us company and help raise funds for one of the country’s most important charities. Bloomin’ hard as it happens. The clue was in the title.
The intrepid Quiss team of 11 left their hotel at 6.00am on the morning of the ‘hike’ to be on the start line, ready for the off at 7.00am from Ashbourne. Ahead of the team lay 27 miles of undulating, off-road Peak District terrain, with a finish in Buxton expected some 10 hours later, all being well.
Having been warned about wearing well-worn hiking boots, the need to carry lots of water and informed that medics were stationed along the route, the team should have known they were in for a tough day.
Setting off in warm, sunny conditions, in groups of 200, the first few miles were designed to gently introduce people to what was to be endured over the next 70,000 steps and almost 800m of climb.
The Quiss team set off in good spirits, with a determination to stick together and keep a steady pace; unfortunately, this approach only lasted a few miles when the competitive spirit overcame a few – we don’t need to name them, they know who they are!
The route was well marked, with plenty of pink arrows to point the way and remind us that all the money raised would help fight cancer, in its many forms. Marshalls along the way handed out sweets to keep our energy up and lots of encouragement to keep our spirits up.
The team found the lush green countryside inspiring, but for those more used to city life, the pungent country smells seemed to be following the team at every step.
The lack of a mobile signal for much of the route also proved an unnerving situation for our team of technology heroes and a challenge for those hoping to follow the team’s progress via the mobile app.
The event organisers were keen to remind all of the hikers that success was in finishing and raising as much money for the cause as possible, not how fast the distance could be completed. But once the public started shouting encouragement and hikers from later start times passed some of the Quiss team, a few upped their pace, determined not to be passed again.
The first rest and blister assessment stop came after 6.2 miles and the Quiss team were able to re-group for a quick chat, with a chocolate, cake and sugary drink consumption session – purely medicinal you understand!
Lunch was consumed at the 13.9 mile stop and more carbohydrates were taken on board at the final rest halt after 21.8 miles, by which time the Quiss team had splintered into a number of groups that would only again be whole, once the gruelling 27 miles was complete.
The stone walls with their step-stiles proved hard work for everyone, as did the steep hills and precipitous drops, all of which ensured the first of the Quiss team didn’t finish until 5.30pm. The final group crossed the line about 90 minutes later, to be re-united with their colleagues for a glass of bubbles and a celebratory photo or two.
In total the Quiss team, thanks to generous donations from friends, family, colleagues and customers raised over £4,000, contributing to the astonishing £750,000 raised on the day.
The event itself was a huge success and talk soon turned to what our happy hikers could take part in next, but given the blisters and stiffness experienced the day after the Peak District Mighty Hike, it may be a few months until the next venture out.