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Step 15 – I challenged myself by supporting a friend

An older, inspirational friend who aged 66 years was working towards an ambitious goal, to attempt the Joss Naylor Lakeland mountain running challenge. With no knowledge of what might be involved, I offered to accompany her on her trips to look at the route. I bought my first pair of fell shoes and over a number of months joined her outings when I could. I found myself in a whole new world, exploring parts of the Lake District fells. High or low, we were often out in all weathers and at all hours. I had to learn some map and compass skills and got used to having wet feet from crossing bogs and streams.

As part of a team, I supported my friend on the first occasion she attempted her challenge but she was unfortunately injured and had to withdraw. Undeterred, after recovery, we continued to train and she went back the following year. Again, I went along and was over the moon for her when she completed it successfully. At the time, aged 68 years old, she was the oldest female to have done this. We each made a lifelong friend as a result of this small step.

I learned so much more: the mountains and the valleys are there to be enjoyed when I can make time. They have no expectations of me, don’t care what I look like, what I weigh or what I’m wearing; they don’t give me deadlines or expect me to work through my lunchbreak or when I get home at night to meet their targets; they don’t put me under pressure. They do, however, give me space to feel free and alive, to clear the cobwebs and recharge and rebuild.

Challenges allow us to see what we’re really capable of; doing something that takes us out of our comfort zone and allows us to re-evaluate ourselves.

A challenge doesn’t have to be physical as was mine. It could be anything and the possibilities are endless: for example, learning a language or other subject, taking an art class, joining a choir, going to a Parkrun and so on.

Why not set yourself a challenge or do one with a friend? That question you might have asked yourself, “Would I be able to do that?”

Photograph by Eddie Winthorpe

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Courage doesn't mean you don't get afraid. Courage means you don't let fear stop you