Just last week a hiking friend of mine sent out an email to a group of us who hike together regularly. The mail was to do with a challenge hike that is coming up in January. I won’t go into the major details but it starts at 1 a.m., yes 1 a.m., and goes for 53 km’s / 33 miles (approximately).
Now, the reason it starts at 1 a.m. is that it represents an historic event that happened in 1592 when a chap, a rebel fighter, escaped from prison and tried to make his way to his home in the mountains. The prison was in the City Hall and so the challenge starts in the city center at City Hall with about 30 km’s (approx 18.5 miles) hiking on roads before doing 23 km’s (approx 14.5 miles) off road in the hills.
This is all fine but the question does become why would I want to do this? I do love to get out on the hills and I do like a challenge but starting at 1 a.m., in the Winter cold of January I might add, and hiking 30 km’s on the road before doing 23 km’s in the hills is an awful lot and certainly won’t be easy.
In a rush of blood last week, I said ‘yes, I’m in!’ But my enthusiasm has waned somewhat since lol 🙂 Now, I have done challenge hikes before and just two weeks back I took on a challenging hike of 35 km’s (approx 22 miles) with nearly 3 km’s (approx 2 miles) elevation. I did it in about 11 hours, so I’m not a total stranger to taking on a challenge. However, I have never hiked more than 42 km’s in one day and that, I can only say, was bloody hard and my legs were sore for days after it.
As with most things of this kind, training is critical. That’s interestingly, within itself, part of the challenge for this particular one. It’s hard to replicate starting out hiking for 50 km’s plus at 1 a.m., I’m just not going to do that in a buildup, would mess up with my schedule far too much so that will be a special kind of difficulty on the day.
Also, with Winter fast approaching the days are getting shorter and the weather getting crappier so it’s harder to get out for longer day hikes.
On the plus side, as 30 km’s of this hike is on roads, I reckon that hiking 35 km’s in mountains with 3 km’s elevation should be good prep in terms of distance and elevation so I'm, as of now, already in the ballpark. As mentioned, I couldn’t replicate the tiredness thing so will just have to see how that is on the day.
However, on the negative side in terms of the challenge, I am very possibly going on holiday for 3 weeks over Christmas and New Year. This hike is on January 16th. So with that added into the mix, it makes it even harder as I don’t know how much hiking I will be able to get in over the Christmas period in the build-up to it as I will most likely be abroad with my girlfriend.
While she likes to go out for a hike, pushing beyond 10 km’s will only make her one thing, grumpy 🙂 So, getting any training in, in the immediate run-up could be hard.
Anyway, the main point that I have been reflecting on the last days, for me personally, is when does hiking of this kind no longer become enjoyable!? For example, this group of guys and gals who I do these much harder hikes with can go a lot faster than me. Now, in relative terms to most hikers, I can go fast. These folks however, have an extra gear or two and can really turn on the after burners if they wish to.
Also, I love to hike and enjoy the scenery, especially on my own. When you go at these kind of speeds, I just don’t think you can honestly enjoy that element of hiking as much as possible, well, that would be the case for me anyway.
In truth, I just don’t find that kind of hyper-speed enjoyable so I don’t try and keep up and at some point most of them will break off in a faster pace. That’s all cool.
So, there is a fine line for me in terms of what is enjoyable. I love a challenge and pushing myself but I do wonder if getting up at 1 a.m. in the depths of Winter to trudge 53 km’s in probably crappy weather is really what I would class as enjoyable.
As mentioned above, in my enthusiasm I signed up but I haven’t yet paid the entrance fee which is pricey at 110 euro’s (About $125 US as of today’s exchange rate). So, I can still choose not to partake. I need to commit and send the money on to one of the guys before October 25th so I have to decide in the next couple of days.
So that’s what’s on my mind this week. I’ll have to have a good think on it over the next day or so. I do like the challenge aspect of it but the being away on holiday over Christmas is, currently, leaning me towards not doing it. If I don’t have time to train in the run-up, it would probably make the whole thing pointless. I’ll continue to reflect before making a decision.
What do you think? Do you like hiking challenges of this kind? Or, do you think doing this kind of thing defeats the purpose of hiking i.e. you should be out in the daytime enjoying the views and environment in as much visibility as possible, enjoying a nice pace and not pushing yourself to extremes?
I would love to hear your thoughts!