Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Our 3 Peaks Dash!

3 Peaks Blog

A blow by blow account of one long weekend – by Kate, one of our support crew…

Friday 6th May – The Drive to Scotland

9.30am – The team arrive at Camberwell, ready for the off! Everyone starts loading the van and getting really excited about the predicted 10 hour journey… Just waiting for Rob and then we’ll hit the road…

10am – Still waiting for Rob.

10.30am – Hooray, Rob’s here! Time for a quick snapshot of the team, pre-peaks, and we’re on our way.

I am upfront with Bill, our driver, to give directions. Unfortunately he doesn’t need me to do that until we get to Scotland so I have a bit of a wait on my hands. In the back, we have Victoria, our third support crewmember, plus our climbers Tyrone, Tom, Darren, Wendy and St Giles CEO Rob. Everyone seems to be in good spirits, which is good, seeing as we’re due to be in this van for the next 10 hours.

3pm – Uh-oh, congestion on the M6… Also, Radio 2 has stopped playing golden oldies and has started discussing (at length) the closure of bowling greens across the country. It’s a low point – a trough, if you will – of our 3 Peaks weekend.

5pm – Smooth sailing again as we head up into the North West with Victoria at the helm, past such beauty spots as Liverpool, Preston and Lancaster – we can even see Morecambe Bay at one point, that’s quite exciting. Up ahead, some giant mountains! According to my map though, it’s not Ben Nevis, just some of the Pennines. Still very pretty though.

7pm – We pass into SCOTLAND, hooray!! As we go through Gretna Green, things in the back take a romantic turn and Tom and Darren decide they will elope together. Everyone is very happy to hear this news.

7.30pm – We decide it’s time for a break and we stop in a nearby village for a drink. We try a few pubs and find one where the music and conversation doesn’t stop abruptly when we walk through the door. While we sit and enjoy a drink, we plan Tom and Darren’s wedding, and I am named Best Man! It will be both a bizarre and brilliant occasion and we toast the happy couple. Back on the road shortly after that.

10.30pm – Things are getting a bit hairy now as we get into the highlands – we drive up the side of Loch Lomond, how exciting! Wish it wasn’t dark so we could see it.

12.30am – An exhausted team reach the Smiddy Bunkhouse in Corpach. That took us FOURTEEN HOURS. Bill and Victoria are heroes. We make everyone eat some delish pasta (lovingly prepared by Victoria) and then get into bed.

Saturday 7th May – Ben Nevis

We’re all up on Saturday by 8 or 9, having had a good few hours kip. We find out later though that Tom was not so lucky and did not sleep much after been kept awake by Bill’s snoring – bad news 

We have a few hours before we have to be anywhere so we head off for the West coast to take in the Scottish sights…

We get lost while looking at these sights so retrace our steps and decide to eat some lunch at the lovely Glenuig Inn. Before we do that though, we swing by MacDonald’s Smokehouse, where you can buy smoked salmon, naturally, but also such delights as smoked alligator, smoked kangaroo and smoked ostrich! Mr MacDonald loves smoking things and he’s pretty good at it apparently – they ate his salmon at the royal wedding a couple of weeks ago!! I am thrilled by this news and immediately buy some royal smoked salmon.

After lunch, we’re on our way to Ben Nevis – nerves are starting to set in and rainclouds are moving our way – a sign of things to come?? Surely not…!

2pm – Arrive at Ben Nevis, and the climbers start to get their stuff together. The Coins Foundation team are very friendly and informative, which I think puts our team at ease a bit. They have a safety briefing and at…

4.30pm – …they are on their way! I feel a bit emotional waving them off. I hope they all come back.

5pm – Us drivers have a special briefing about what we need to do to look after our climbers and where to go when we leave Scotland. A weird man in the group pipes up, he seems to have a better idea of how we get to Scafell Pike. As chief directions-giver, I choose to ignore him, it sounds too complicated.

Now, there is a lot of time for us to clean out the van and start planning what food to prepare as replenishment for the climbers.

7pm – I start hounding the people in the Coins ‘control tent’, to see if we can find out whereabouts the team are… Apparently they have reached the summit!! Amazing! They shouldn’t be too long now.

9pm – Hmmm. They should really be down by now… I give Rob a call and it turns out they’re a bit further out than we thought, they won’t be down for another couple of hours. I think they got the times mixed up before…

11pm – Getting worried now, it is pitch black up there and we haven’t seen any of them come down yet…

Then Tom and Tyrone appear, yippee!! Unfortunately though, no Rob, Wendy or Darren… Apparently the group have split up a bit, and the rest will be down in a while. Cool. I go and drink a red bull in anticipation of the drive. Tyrone shows me a big disgusting blister on his foot. I wish he hadn’t.

About 10 minutes later, I get a call from Rob, who tells me he has lost Darren and Wendy!! This is terrifying news, and the red bull has done nothing to calm me down – god knows how the three of them are feeling.

Then I get a call from Darren: “We’re lost” – ARGH! Mercifully, while I am bumbling about trying to talk to the organisers, and wondering how one organises a rescue helicopter, I hear Darren and Wendy have spotted a Coins rep who has gone up to find them – PHEW.

12am – I almost weep with relief when I see Rob, Darren and Wendy. No time to lose though, so we stuff their faces with stew and pasta (again deliciously cooked by our resident chef Victoria) and get them in the van.

Sunday 8th May – Scafell Pike and Snowdon

From midnight until 6am, we are negotiating the Scottish hills, back on the M6 and then into the Lake District. I wish I could tell you, as navigator, that I remember all of this journey, but I confess I drifted off on a couple of occasions… I do remember a couple of highlights though, including us almost running over a tent that was set up in the middle of the road, and passing a pine theme park.

Anyway, we get to Scafell Pike just before 6am and bid the climbers farewell once again – the mood has sunk a little, after it took them longer than expected to conquer Big Ben, but they troop on towards the peak of the highest mountain in England.

While they are up there, the weather goes from bad to worse – it is cold up here and the rain comes down in sheets, it’s horrible! We are filled with sympathy down here in the van, and can’t believe we’ve been so unlucky :( As Bill points out though, these peaks have a weather system of their own. I take his word for it.

We are cheered up by the news that the bloke who was giving out strange directions by Ben Nevis is extremely late – we find out later that the van got stuck in a ditch for an hour. Haha! Shouldn’t laugh really… But we do.

11am – the team return! What a great time, well done guys! The boys then faff about for ages (doing their hair, so I’m told) and we set off an hour later.

2pm – Wouldn’t you know it, on the way to Wales, the sun comes out! What perfect timing. Still, it’s nice to have a bit of sunshine, even while we are in the minivan on the motorway. We pass the time by reading the Sunday Times (Rob and I scoping out the potential in the Rich List) and playing St Giles Trust 20 questions, where you have to guess which staff member/volunteer someone is thinking of, by asking 20 (or less) yes-or-no questions. It’s fun! Try it in your own office!

4.30pm – We roll up to Llanberis, in lovely, lovely Wales. The combination of sunshine and the fact that this is the last mountain the team have to climb has definitely raised the spirits…!

We send them off on their merry way, and seeing as we have no food to cook this time, us drivers go for a pint, and chat mainly about what a great weekend it has been. I think we are slightly delirious by this point after barely any sleep.

9.30pm – The triumphant and dog-tired team return, woohooooooo!! We have pints of beer at the ready for them, which they really and truly deserve, especially as the rest of us (those who aren’t driving, I hasten to add) are on our 4th already… The Coins Foundation give the drivers medals too! I am chuffed to bits.

The party is just getting started but only some of us can stay, so Rob, Tom, Bill and I pile in the van and leave Tyrone, Darren, Wendy and Victoria to enjoy the fun. Rob advises Darren to “throw some shapes”, but more importantly to make the most of the celebrations.

And so, a mere 7 hours later, I roll into my bed at 5am. I am probably more tired than I have ever been, so god knows how those climbers are feeling, but I have had a BRILLIANT weekend.

And that’s not all… I’ve now found out that we raised a phenomenal £6,000 in sponsorship!!!

Thanks so so much to everyone who supported the team! You made it all worth it – even the blisters! If you would like to sponsor us, you can visit our Virgin Money Giving page:

We're also recruiting for our next 3 Peaks Challenge in October - we just can't get enough!! You can find out more details by emailing Kate ( or calling 020 7703 7000.

See you at the summit!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Arto's marathon day in Brighton

Our lovely Resettlement Broker Arto Maatta describes his marathon day in Brighton.  Arto made it round in an amazing 3 hours 56 minutes.  And from someone so young...

5am Wake up  / 6.10am – 7.10am Drive to Brighton / 7.15am Double Espresso at Costa Coffee (+ sneaky cigarette to calm my nerves) / 7.30am Preston Park

Bit of stretching 7.30am – 7.45am / Trying to keep warm 7.45am – 9am

Race starts 9am – Bang!!!!

Sun is blaring from all blue sky with a slight wind……6 mile point – Kate Donohue (on her own) cheering “Go Arto”!!!

10 mile point I see a Darren Vidler briefly….(but could not even shout Hi)

Temperature rising step by step….12 mile point – Kate Donohue (still on her own) cheering “Go Arto” / Time 10.35am (I think)

½ marathon point….feeling the sun on my skin (colour changing fast)….beating my previous time by few minutes!!

Mile 18….muscles start to cramp (stop and stretch)

Mile 19….I am sure miles are getting longer and longer….but must go on!!! (Seen several people needing medical assistance)

Mile 20! NO! This must be a joke…we must be turning back towards Brighton (as we were really far West)

Finally on my way back towards Brighton pier….blisters starting to appear….still another 5 miles to go!! Help!

Hop and run for 2 miles…Really hot now…Must go on!! (spray myself with 2 bottles of water at every water station by now)

Mile 24 – I have to stop by medics….3 minute sit down and couple of plaster will do….only 2 and a bit miles to go!!

Brighton Pier – 12.53pm (800 meters to go)….OMG – I have to sprint to make it under 4 hours!!!! Run Forest Run……

400 meters left….I can see the end (Keep running / Don’t stop)

200 meters – I can hear people but can’t see anything else apart from – FINISH

I MADE IT!!! 3 hours and 57 minutes!!!

1.30pm….And did that pint of San Miguel taste nice??? But more importantly seeing all the supporters including; Kate, Sean, Claire, Alex + family, Darren’s family + Claire and my better half Alban!! Thank you for everyone for being there!!!!

I hope my journal of MY Marathon experience (As everyone’s will be different) will give you all an inside to what to expect and how you will possibly feel whilst running! I also hope this will motivate more of you to take part in different runs throughout the year to raise money for St Giles Trust! (great way to promote St Giles Trust and keeps you fit too!)

I have ran the London 10K (July 2010) – Run to the Beat ½ Marathon (September 2010) and now a FULL marathon in Brighton 2011…I am extremely proud for taking part in these and very excited to have beaten everyone running for us in each one of the runs (Been lucky enough not to have Hugh running on any of them J). This is why they call it a Hat Trick!

People ask me; How do you prepare? Was it;

Training? = No! As since September I have ran maybe 7 – 10 times! (However I would not recommend this)

Do I smoke? = Yes! 20 – 25 / day (YOU will do better if you do not smoke)

Do I drink? = Yes! A Fair bit! (Would definitely also help if you didn’t get drunk the night before)

So what is it?

DETERMINATION! I believe we can all get great results, as long as we put our minds fully to whatever we do! (and a little bit of competiveness of course needed)


Friday, 15 April 2011

Brighton Rocks and Runs!

St Giles Trust's Communications Manager describes her experience of running the Brighton Marathon in aid of St Giles Trust. Any excuse to get hot and sweaty in lycra and avoid doing housework for six months because of ‘training’…

The day beforehand

You’re supposed to rest, carb load and drink loads of water but I’ve elected to do my regular Russian ballet class and Bolshoi Ballet system pilates class.  As well as being good for the grey matter and the soul, if that doesn’t stretch my muscles nothing will. Carbs? Sushi and jelly babies. Oh and for hydration?  I hydrate with a few cold beers the evening before. Don’t ask me for marathon prep advice kids…but it’s in bed by 11pm.

D Day

5am –  I’ve only had three hours sleep yet I’m feeling fairly calm and organised with all my kit laid out next to my bed. Eat porridge breakfast and take first ibuprofen of day.  Drink a cuppa and a pint of water.

6am – walk to cab office and get taxi to London Bridge.  I only live 15 minute bus ride away and train does leave until 6.42 but I’m not taking any chances…

6.15am – arrive London Bridge. 6.42 to Brighton not listed on departures.  

6.30am – Train still not up on departures board. Starting to get doubtful.  No-one around to ask.

6.35am – OK.  6.42 train clearly not happening. One for 7.12 has popped up on departures. 

7.12 – we’re off to Brighton!  Reassuring sight of a handful of other lycra clad individuals travelling down on same train.

7.45am- need to use the loo but a couple of winsome, weary looking Amy Winehouse aficionados who have clearly been out partying all night are locked in the only toilet on train being sick.

7.50am - we stop in a place called Horley

7.55am – still in Horley

7.59am – it’s nicely middle England in Horley and a bit picturesque but we need to LEAVE!

8am – as all us lycra clad travellers start to look at each other in panic the train finally pulls out of Horley.

8.10am – busting for the toilet but the guy in the seat adjacent comes back announcing that the toilet is ‘unusable’.  Thanks girls…

8.30am – Arrive Brighton with 30 minutes till start which is in Preston Park - a 15 minute walk away!  Myself and 4 fellow runners form a stressed one minute mile sprint quintet charging out of the station to… where do we need to go? We look at each other in horror. No signs directing people to start and no-one around at station.

8.35am – after consulting maps and harassing locals the stress quintet starts the sprint to Preston Park.

8.50am – arrive at Preston Park. Race up to baggage lorries and check my bags in, run to the start pen absolutely dying for a pee but the queue is too long at the start and there are loos on the route. 

9.10am – Go through the start, I’m off! Run like the clappers for the first set of toilets at mile 3!

9.18 am – loos at mile 3. Just a couple of people in front of me in queue.

9.22 am – bloke in front of me taking a long time!

9.24 am – he comes out apologising.  He’s clearly had – ahem – marathon stomach nerves.  Not his fault but I don’t hang around in there…

9.25am – passing by lots of lovely shops! I’ve got my cash card in my bum bag and I’m tempted to take a quick diversion… no, no, no!!

9.30am – see my lovely colleague Kate from St Giles Trust at mile 6!  Such a boost to see her smiling and cheering me on.

9.35-ish – go into some funny little village which smells of cows.  We just run round it in a circle but on the way out I call out to another St Giles Trust runner colleague Jason who is making his way in. He turns round but I don’t think he sees me.

9.50ish – pass back by Kate and my other lovely colleague Clare at mile 12 – a point where you run back by the mile 6 mark.  I’m starting to feel very hot indeed but I’m still feeling good.  It’s so nice to see people you know cheering you on.

10am – I’m running along the front in the centre of Brighton and it is lovely.  The crowd here are fantastic.  I decide to stop looking at my watch for a bit as I can start obsessing too much. I’ll just go at my pace, enjoy the run and chat a bit with a few other runners.

11am-ish – we go into Hove.  Local residents are out with orange segments, strawberries and jelly babies.  One guy is out the front of his house with a garden hose which is a blessing on such a hot day.

11.10am –ish – however, there are some real irritating fruit loop arty farty types here who keep barging in front of the runners to ring bells and do some sort of strange hippy festival dance, stay out the way or I’ll run you over!!

11.20am- On, on, on…phew it’s hot!! These marathons don’t get any easier…

Mile 18 - see someone collapsed covered with a blanket and St John’s Ambulance holding a dignity sheet in front of them.  Don’t look any further but hope they’re OK.  It’s really very hot and I’m starting to cramp badly.

Mile 20 – A skinny lady is completely collapsed on the ground white as a ghost getting oxygen.  It’s unsettling when you see that – you completely empathise with their situation and hope you aren’t going to be next.  I’m starting to feel pretty bad.

Mile 21 – I check my watch – 12.10pm.  Could I do this in under 4 hours? I'm seriously starting to hurt.

Bit later – OWW.  Really, seriously OWW. I’ve hit the wall.

Mile 23 – I’m suddenly in agony and I’ve started crying. Got to get a grip otherwise the crying will affect my breathing which is the only thing keeping me going. If I stop now I know I’ll quit.  I’ve come this far, got to keep going. Mind over matter, mind over matter.  I see a guy in a rhinoceros costume hobbling on at mile 17 going the other way.  I do not know how those guys do it and it spurs me on. That and the thought that I can be having a large dry white wine very soon...

Mile 24 – I am experiencing a strange sensation whereby I can still feel my pain but my mind has almost detached from it. The pain has become so familiar it has almost become normal…

Mile 26 – All of a sudden, I can see the finish line! It’s just after 1.10pm. I won’t have done under 4 hours but it will be my best time ever in 4 marathons.  The thought of that gets me over the finish line as fast as I can.

After finish – 3 immediate priorities in this order – water, banana and finding my friends for a large drink. I’m buzzing from having completed another one in aid of St Giles Trust.  I find my colleagues Kate, Clare, Alex and his family and Sean and also fellow runners Arto & Darren.  We’re in a sea front bar overlooking the finish line where we drink wine and beer, slip down nibbles and nurofen, swap horror stories and steel ourselves for when the post-race pain hits.  Its gorgeous sunshine – the day to be sitting on a beach not running marathons really and my sunblock has come off with sweat, meaning I’ve fried like a piece of bacon…

Tamsin finished in 4hours 5 minutes. Sponsor her at:  To make a donation to St Giles Trust please visit, email or phone 020 7703 7000.