The Rally Girls Peaky Challenge

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This month a group of nine North Dorset ladies climbed Britain’s highest three peaks inside 24 hours – and enjoyed a prosecco at the top of each

The nine Rally Girls with their guide, Josh, far right, setting out to tackle the first peak – Ben Nevis

They are usually found at the county’s steam engine rallies and vintage shows, driving old vehicles and maintaining machinery. However, over the past nine months, a group of ladies from North Dorset have been training for a gruelling charity challenge.
The Rally Girls swapped their overalls and spanners for hiking boots and walking poles, and spent weekends relentlessly training to climb the three peaks – Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike, and Snowdon – inside 24 hours.

All images: The Rally Girls

The Mountain Challenge
The women planned to summit Ben Nevis first, Scotland’s highest peak at 4,409 ft. The total trekking route is nine miles, and there is currently snow at the summit. Next was Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain at 3,209 ft. It’s a challenging climb at any time, but their ascent was to be in the middle of the night. The final mountain was Snowdon, or Yr Wyddfa, the highest peak in Wales at 3,560ft. Anyone climbing even one of these mountains needs to be fit, but all three of them in 24 hours? How did they do it?
Ten friends started the challenge: Jules Hunter, Holly Parsons-Fox, Kerry Antell, Laura Antell, Amey Butler, Selena Newman, Sara Beever, Sara Treeby, Charlotte Young and Trish Channon.
The plan initially took seed during last summer’s rally season – admittedly over a cocktail or two.

The Rally Girls absolutely loving life on the peak of Ben Nevis

‘Each time we went to a rally we’d recruit one more person, said Kerry. ‘The steam rallies can be a very male-dominated environment, so when we got together we were intent on doing something for us.’
Nine months of training commenced as the group took the preparation for the challenge seriously, Jules said:
‘We did some training on our own, and then the first meet up was the Blue Moon Swim – we went swimming in the sea at night. Then we did some group trips and long day hikes. We initially had a coach who was helping us – he tragically died on Crib Goch on Remembrance Day. He was an ex-serviceman. Part of our training included a 21 mile memorial walk for him.’
Amey explained how the group had managed their own training. ‘All of us have got kids – we just had to exercise around them. We even fitted walking in by doing it at 5 or 6am before the kids were up!’
Kerry admitted she’d found a lot of new places to walk: ‘I’ve lived in Dorset for 30-odd years, but there are lots of places I have never been. It was great to train on the hills and Jurassic Coast right here in Dorset.’
While Amey had previously done lots of mountain walking, Holly and Jules had never done any. Some of the group had completed marathons or tough mudder challenges but some were complete novices.
Holly was swift to share her biggest tip on what helped: ‘Blissful ignorance!’
Unfortunately, just one week before the challenge, Charlotte Young dropped a lawnmower battery on to her foot.
‘The battery is absolutely fine,’ her dad, Norman Young, was quick to reassure everyone. The group were down to nine.

Fundraising
‘It was important that all of the charities we’re supporting mean something to us,’ said Holly. ‘We self-funded all our costs – equipment, coaching and travel. So every penny is going to the charities. Because we’re all friends, we know all the same people – so it made sense that instead of asking each person for money ten times we would just put everything together in one pot, and then divide it equally between the charities we had each chosen.’
The charities the group elected to support are Ducks and Drakes Cancer Trust, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, STARS Appeal, Mouth Cancer Foundation, Endometriosis UK, Devon Air Ambulance, Ickle Pickles, MS Centre Dorset and The Salvation Army.
‘We were hopeful that if we could raise £500 for each charity we would have done really well. But we have exceeded that and donations are still coming in!’
The fundraising pot currently stands at more than £7,000.

The Challenge
The Rally Girls met Josh, their guide for the challenge, in Glasgow: ‘When he met us we were all drinking beer – he must have wondered what he had taken on,’ said Kerry. ‘But we loved Ben Nevis. The weather was really good to us and we got to the top and saw those views. We had planned ahead, and we had a tiny prosecco at the top of each mountain! And our children had painted stones for us to leave at each peak.
‘It was beautiful up there, we could have stayed all day. But we knew we had two more peaks to climb in the 24 hour time. We actually slid on our bottoms down Ben Nevis on the snow – it was so much fun!
‘But as much as we had loved Ben Nevis, we hated Scafell more. It was dark, freezing cold and there were huge boulders. We found that very difficult. ‘And it sounds ridiculous, but it was really steep! I genuinely never want to go back there. But we kept going.’
Finally, the group climbed Snowdon via the famous Pyg Track. They reached the peak with time for a swift celebration before making the descent – you have to get back down again before the deadline.
‘It was insane,’ said Jules. ‘We just couldn’t believe we had done all this together. When we were on that very last bit of path from Snowdon we were like a pack of football hooligans. We had DONE IT! And then, on the coach on the way home, we were watching the donations come in … it was just surreal.’

Done … next?
After such a gruelling challenge, what advice have the Rally Girls got for others contemplating similar?
‘You have to put the training in to enjoy it,’ said Amey. ‘Then you know you’ve given it your best shot. And just keep going! We had a Whatsapp group chat to keep each other motivated, and a good support network helps. And don’t let fear rule your mind. Mental agility is just as important as physical ability for these challenges.’
Now that the Rally Girls have completed this impressive feat they are up for more fundraising challenges and are open to suggestions!
The group will next be together at the Three Okefords Rally in May, kicking off the summer season, and will soon begin planning the next adventure.

Donate to the Rally Girls Peak Challenge here.

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