Great Strides 65: Confirmites Hit the Road to Support Cystic Fibrosis

Author Bio

Author Bio

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the most blister-y of times. That’s right – the Great Strides 65km walk had raised its weary head once more and enticed only the craziest of crazies into its fiendish grasp.

For those who are not familiar, the Great Strides 65km is a rather wonderful charity event hosted by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust which takes place each year. Two years ago, Confirmit made its inaugural entry into the event, with two teams bravely making their way through the Surrey Hills in just under 15 hours. This year, we decided to take it up a notch, and entered the Welsh equivalent of this challenge – 65km (or 42 miles for those who prefer such things) – across the Brecon Beacons.

We had enough participants to enter two teams once again. Confirmites Peter Greenham, Lisa Garthside, Chris Brown, Wendy Marsland, Gerd Birgit Hay and I, were Team “Waist Removal” and the ‘Wells Massive’ being was led by Claire Sporton, her son and some friends gamely taking up the challenge.

At 6am we arrived at the start line, bleary eyed and clutching a bacon sandwich (or perhaps that was just Pete?), with little idea of what lay ahead of us. If you’re not familiar with the Brecon Beacons, we are talking an actual mountain range – not Everest, but not insignificant either.

The first 10 miles were an undulating ascent, until we reached steep climb leading straight to the summit of Pen Y Fan, which roughly translates as ‘the beacons summit’ and is the highest peak in south Wales at 880m. Ouch.

The upside of the rather challenging terrain was the scenery which was utterly spectacular. As we passed the half way point and walked into Talybont Forest we were greeted by gorgeous views stretching out across Talybont Reservoir. Fortunately for those who were flagging a little, the final eight miles were nice and flat, along the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. Many of us were in lighter trainers by this time, and we appreciated the easy footing as slowly trundled towards the finish line.

By this point, everyone had developed their own coping strategy, although I’m proud to say we never descended into an ‘every man (and woman) for themselves’ situation. We started as a team, and though we all occupied our own little worlds from time to time, we were going to finish as a team.  

Speaking of teams, we couldn’t have done it without our WONDERFUL support crew who were brilliantly prepared with as much water, jelly babies and talcum powder (yes really) as they could carry. You cannot imagine how happy we were to see them at various points around the walk, they were absolute superstars.

As we enter the last 100m, a roar of cheers and whistles rose from the finish line, and we realized that our support crew, dozens of the volunteers from the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, and other walkers were shouting words of encouragement to help get us to the end. We crossed the line as a team, feeling relieved and elated that we had finished the grueling route with a total time of 14hrs 15 minutes.

To my delights, a cold bottle of beer was pushed into my hand and a sweaty (but very uplifting) round of hugs ensued. Photos were taken, beer was drunk, and medals were presented to us by the organizers of the event. We did it!!!

If you’d like to see more, here’s a highlights video of the day. 



And, of course, it’s not too late to donate to this brilliant charity – click here to add to our total.