Three peaks challenge – the ultimate team builder

19th August 2022

Human resources

As you will probably know, a good chunk of the G&W team recently took on the Three Peaks Challenge. This is an account of the experience, collaboratively written by Alice Tettmar and Fran Williams – can you guess who wrote which parts?

There are a lot of personal benefits to doing the 3 peaks 24-hour challenge, including fitness and the personal physical and mental challenge, but reflecting on the experience I wanted to outline my personal views on what a great team-building challenge it is. 

How can you not be a closer unit following what is, in the end, 72 hours together in a mini-bus, exhausted?

For me, this was the second time I had undertaken a challenge of this ilk, following my attempt at the 4 peaks 48 hours challenge about/just over 10 years ago. With this challenge, you do the three UK peaks and then get a ferry over to Ireland, travel down to the beautiful Ring of Kerry, and climb Carrantouhill. Where a bath of Guinness awaits at the top for the weary challenger.. or did I imagine that in a state of exhaustion?

Personally, this time round, physically, it was a little easier (shhhhh. Keep this to yourself). My knees were shot last time round such that I had to descend Carrantouhill backwards. 

However, it was the team bonding that I enjoyed most this time round. 

Firstly, it was the journey to Manchester, from our base in Alton. Fair play to the self-named “shit wagon” for making it with a Principal Engineer, Engineer, Technician, and Director, plus bags, in tow. Sadly, as a Director, I did not get front seat privileges, but with Jon and I in the back we merrily sang away to Spice Girls, Girls Aloud, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers classics, alongside being schooled on Harry Styles and Beyonce. 

Secondly, there was the minibus. 9 of us packed into a minibus for a good half (plus) the allowed time allowed. Cue banter, and not much work chat. Stories shared, a lot of which strangely included poo, and laughed at. 

Then there is the challenge itself. A good start is the medicinal whiskey and meal the night before at the Ben Nevis Inn. Pent up excitement there for all to see. The nice but slightly close quarters for the evening, where a boxer short comparison begins. This settles to slightly nervous chatter regarding the challenge ahead whilst preparing peanut butter and jam sandwiches. 

The point is that within the team there were varying abilities, moods heightened and dipped at different times. It was incumbent upon us all to get up and down the mountain safely (it’s not a walk in the park) as quickly as we could. [Editor’s note: I looked it up and surprisingly, this really isn’t a walk in the park. While both Scafell Pike and Snowdon are situated within National Parks – Lake District and Snowdonia respectively – Ben Nevis is not. Fun fact. Anyway, back to the blog.] It was incumbent upon individuals to look after not only themselves but others, checking teammates were ok and managing, encouraging where required, and leaving alone if necessary. 

I probably bored people senseless with it, but in rugby, there is a little phrase, which goes something like this:

“Your defensive line is only as fast as the slowest person”

We all go up and down at the speed ALL can manage. 

Then there is trying to distract each other from the muscle aches and tiredness by chitchat. Getting to know teammates along the way. 

The point is we all have to trust each other (the key). We also have to trust the drivers (they have our slumbering life in their hands on the motorways) and generally those around us. Thank you to the stranger who helped us down Scarfell in the dark!!

It’s the relief and exhalation that as a group you manage to achieve, and the celebration that ensues.

One thing that we will all be sure to take back to work with us is understanding our own boundaries and limitations, but knowing the feeling that comes from pushing them and occasionally smashing through them head first! The intensity of the event should not be underestimated and given the time pressure, 5 / 9 of us summitted Scafell due to the speed and time that it had to be completed to stay on track. The learning? Put your own safety first. Those who summitted Scafell were greeted with (albeit a very sleepy) well done and a high five. But we all had internal boundaries that we broke through – for Tash, it was the sheer intensity of it, for Alice her fear of heights as she made her way down the mountains. As a team, we got there and are stronger because of it. 

However, you may be thinking that only 9 of the 25 G&W members completed the event. Ah no. This was a whole team event. From the members who shared the Just Giving Page, the donations to the great charities, the chat on the internal teams being endlessly supportive, and the cheers on completing just as positive. Massive thank you for the support all, it was very much needed and appreciated. 

The official benefits of such a challenge:

Participation in such an activity can increase our self-esteem and can reduce stress and anxiety. It also plays a role in preventing the development of mental health problems and in improving the quality of life of people experiencing mental health problems.

One thing we have learned through all the activities is that teamwork is at the heart of each one. We all inspire and motivate each other without realising it. As a result, we can push ourselves to be the people we want to become. That way, work no longer feels like a place you have to come to. It feels like a place you want to come to.

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” Phil Jackson

I absolutely love the experience and feel it has only been a benefit to the team as a whole. I can’t help but think how vital it is that more organisations do the same.

Below is a look at what the rest of the team had to say:

“This experience is definitely something that helped and encouraged team bonding while having fun and exploring the beauty of British nature.” – Darina Jurovskaja 

“It’s something that I was never planning to do but I’m so glad I did it. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget!” – Jon Chalkley

 “I didn’t quite realise how much of a physical and mental challenge undertaking the three peaks challenge would be. From getting up each mountain to simply trying to get more than thirty minutes of sleep on a cramped minibus. That being said, I’ve never had so much fun with such a great bunch of people, and making it up each mountain to take a victory sip of hipflasks of Rum and Negroni, made the 68,000 steps all worth it.” – Aubyn Shortland

“It was the hardest thing I have ever physically tried to do but it was the most rewarding challenge. I am so glad I got to bond with the team, I wouldn’t have been able to get to the end without them.” – Natasha Kearl

“Completing the Three Peaks Challenge has been on my bucket list for many years, and when it was suggested as a work social/trip I was delighted. 6 months later and after a quick train up to Manchester to meet up with the whole group followed by a few hours in minibus really made the excitement take hold. My favourite moment from the trip has to be climbing onto the trig point at the top of Ben Nevis and knowing that I was the highest person on land in the British Isles, even if it was only for 20 seconds! It was a really memorable trip and I was proud to be part of the Ground and Water Team supporting 5 great charities.” – Myles Finnerty

“If you’d have given me one mountain a day at a time, that would have be fine. But all three back to back with pretty much no sleep was an epic physical and mental challenge that really pushed me. The team were incredible from start to finish, and I couldn’t be prouder of all of us for working together.” – Dipalee Jukes

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