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Paul’s mountain marathon

25 July 2013

When Paul Armstrong’s mother, Pat, died from pancreatic cancer on Paul’s 50th birthday in April 2012, he made the decision to raise money for PCRF and test his own physical endurance with a mountainous challenge.

Paul Armstrong

Munros are Scottish mountains over 3,000 feet tall and Paul, a keen hill walker, planned to scale as many Munro summits as possible within a 120 hour timescale, travelling entirely on foot and carrying all his own supplies. Paul endured months of training, including walking, running, weight loss and route planning to cover the maximum number of Munros, before beginning his challenge on 5 July.

Accompanied by his father as support, Paul made the long journey north from Langham in Essex to Scotland. “I thought I was prepared for anything, but the weather threw everything at me, from lashing rain to scorching sun,” he says. In fact, Paul’s communications equipment – phone, solar charger and camera - got so wet that he took one day out of his schedule to dry it all out in order to remain in contact with the outside world - “and so my family didn’t call out Mountain Rescue to find me,” he jokes.

Losing that day had the knock-on effect that Paul could not climb as many Munros as he had intended, but he still managed 29 summits over the course of the four days – a great achievement in itself. Being alone in the hills and pitching his tent on all terrain and in all weathers meant that Paul experienced a variety of emotions during his journey, but there was a particularly poignant moment among the physical exertions. “About halfway through my challenge, I received a call out of the blue from my father, to tell me that he was sitting near the top of Mum’s favourite mountain, where we had jointly scattered her ashes - with Estate permission - the previous year,” he recalls. “That really spurred me on at a low point in my walk.”

His sister-in-law, Vicky, kept Paul’s supporters updated on his progress by posting on a specially-created Facebook page and Paul made sure that he took as many photos as possible to document his trip. “I did enjoy the challenge, but the weather conditions made it hard at times – as the photos on my Facebook page show,” he says. “But, apart from some blisters, I’m in good shape and even considering more fundraising adventures.”

Paul’s hoping to raise as much money as possible for PCRF. If you’d like to donate, please visit: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=MM120

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