As many of you know 16 “Geckos” including employees, family and friends took part in Race The Sun 2015 in the picturesque setting of the Lake District. The gruelling course included a 25 mile cycle, a climb up Helvellyn (the third highest peak in England), a 3km canoe, finishing off with another 25 mile cycle – all to be completed before sunset.

We arrived in the Lakes on Friday night and swiftly started limbering up for the event, equipment was checked, sandwiches made and survival bags packed. Alarms were set for 4am on the Saturday morning so we could have a hearty breakfast to prepare for the task ahead. Ciaran Shier was chief chef and did a fantastic job making sure everyone was fed and watered.

When we arrived at the start point there was a sense of nervous excitement in the air – coupled with the dull whisper of final team talks and flashes of cameras for last minute selfies. Before we knew it we were off! The first cycle took us out of Penrith towards the base of Helvellyn, 25 hilly miles later we were there at the first transition. Pigs Might Fly lost a team member due to injury at this stage however this didn’t deter them and they continued to storm up Helvellyn. We all knew the climb would be tough but Helvellyn would surprise seasoned mountain goats, the initial incline was extremely harsh, calves were burning and hearts pumping. With many more miles of climbing ahead it was a case of putting one foot in front of the other and plodding along!

3 and a bit hours (and a complete drenching) later, it was time to get back on the bikes for a short ride to the canoe station. The canoe was a welcome relief for the legs which had been tirelessly working for 5 or so hours, the head wind on Lake Thirlmere however ensured that the upper body had a good work out. Fair to say everyone found the canoeing rather gruelling and was extremely glad when it was over.

After canoeing, it was finally time to turn for home. To keep energy levels up, food was being inhaled at a rate of knots, vigilance was required however as the cycle back to Penrith included many obstacles such as steep hills, gates and …chickens! A member of All the Gear no Idea had a close encounter with the latter and the latter won! Once the feathers had been dusted off, the finish line (and the prospect of beer) were in sight. This incentive meant that a few of the Gecko teams managed to post a fast time for the last cycle.

The Hill Villains were the first Gecko team back and managed to bag 6th place (and were the 2nd Mixed Team to finish)  – extremely impressive given that 55 teams lined up on the start line. Pigs Might Fly wound up 12th with Your Pace or Mine and All the Gear no Idea not far behind them in 22nd and 32nd respectively – A great effort all round I’m sure you’ll agree. An evening of reminiscing, beer, pizza and anecdotal awards lay ahead which proved very entertaining for many and rounded off an extremely memorable day.

Now that the weariness has subsided some of the team are already trying to find another challenge to work towards. For anyone pondering taking part in an endurance / charity event in the near future, my advice would be – dive in head first and do it! The buzz you get from crossing the finishing line and raising money for a worthwhile cause will completely over rule the gruelling nature of the actual event. We are all extremely proud and thankful for the money that has been raised so far – the current total stands at £8,780.31. There are way too many people to thank in this blog alone but one thing is for sure – we couldn’t have done it without your help. A million “thank yous” to one and all.