It is said that revenge is a dish best served cold. Last weekend, I got mine. Warm.
As if wrapped up in the embrace of an immeasurable stack of good times, this revenge was on history and self doubt and anger at yet another bunch of people who don't know me from a bar of soap attempting to dictate my limits.
Mate, there aren't any.
As soppy as it will come across (and it will, so go put on your wellies) once again I am feeling so ridiculously glad to have stumbled upon this group of amazing people. And even more so that I got to spend last weekend celebrating all that is good about you, and good about life, together, there, in that amazing place.
I won't recap the marathon and the glory and beauty that was every Buzzer foot crossing that line, but my part in it holding signs and hoping to bring out your smiles and giving hugs as you made your way into the second half, well that was pretty special. And the cowbell that saved our Tony and Bev's ears. Well only just, it was a humdinger. And me and Anita losing Kat and Richard as we trotted off down that hill to take a left to our watching post at the finish. I felt like a little kid waiting on a military homecoming as I climbed up that wall, positioned my foot on some random electrical box that I kept on hoping would not collapse under me. I kept calling out when we'd be seeing you legends round the corner and the tracker was no less off that it had been for the duration. Moose took at least fifteen minutes to go 200 metres if it had anything to say about it!
I tried to film you all, and cheer you all and dingadingadingading you all and I couldn't capture it but it is all imprinted and stored forever behind my skull. I did manage to catch Libby's ridiculously speedy flying feet and Jim's strong finish on film. Gutted to miss that cheshire cat grin of Rob's, not so much that expression full of meaning from Hobs. Some things are meant to fade into the ether, not to be retained, and we aren't to know why.
And then the fabulous four rounded the corner, that moment we'd all been waiting for and my heart burst with happiness in seeing such a goal achieved. My biggest regret missing that stellar heroic finish from our Boltys and Swiss Dave as I had to go catch up with my boys in advance of dinner - it was my birthday after all and what an unforgettable amazing day you all made it! From the bottom of my heart I thank you.
For that, but oh my.
On Friday my boys and I had driven into Llanberis to take the mountain train up to the summit of Snowdon. I'd only just been down that road in August, on a far warmer day, which was actually - when you really stop and look at it - far colder. That three peaks conclusion came back with a vengeance and it sat as a lump of angst in my throat, making it hard to breathe when I finally made it out of that train at the summit and I walked up to where I should have already been months earlier. To touch it, to take it. But I hadn't earned it. I couldn't do it. I reached out my hand and I smiled. And I shook my head and promised that I'd be back.
Saturday before all the marathon heroics I'd taken the world's most rickety bus in from Bangor and walked back to the car park where that altercation with the so called guides had happened. Where strangers saw it fit to call my disappointment in failing to complete something I'd set out to do a 'bad attitude'. I walked through that car park and told their ghosts that I was back. I told them that tomorrow I'd shut them up for good. Then I left to go be with my friends.
Sunday I awakened with a jolt at 5:09 - 5:09 of all times! This was the fourth indication I'd had since our journey to Snowdonia began that my heavenly Pops was very much going to walk with me and it was only the very beginning of what would turn out to be one of the most treasured days of my entire life.
Breakfast in, kit organised, into the car and I was off. And I turned into that car park once again and announced my return to the ghosts, once again. I am quite probably genetically programmed to hold grudges. I cannot explain it any other way. It's not a trait I'm particularly proud of but I tell you what, it drives me to be fierce and to go get what I want in a way that nothing else can do. And that morning shone and burned and froze at once. I can't explain what I was feeling but the significance and absolute need to reach that summit, to close that loop (mostly - there's still Scafell Pike but that's another journey, already scheduled as it happens for next May...)
Digressing again, sorry.
Yes, I had a mission and I stood up before it and I roared into the abyss and I said bring it the hell ON. You got it wrong about me in Yorkshire and now it's time to slay the National 3 Peaks dragon. How to explain angst? Not sure if that worked but that's all I've got.
So I walked out of that car park to my Buzzers. To my friends. To the people who would climb this peak with me because they LOVE the mountain, and not because they seek to PROFIT from the mountain. Not just apples and oranges, but more like apples and maggot infested rotting meat. And my joy, my pride, everything I have within me took flight on that first step up the road.
I never run with company as to be quite honest I find small talk difficult. It's not that I don't want to chat but more that I don't want to pry. But talking to everyone in this group is amongst the easiest of all conversations, and I enjoyed every chat. Checking up on what everyone is up to next, hearing stories about families, past and present, it was just a wonderful time and oh so unbelievably different to what I was feeling the last time I was on that mountain.
That was up to the halfway house. That was where they'd stopped me.
When I passed that point it was as if something switched on in my veins, like an injection of persistence, of that ever-present relentless forward progress, and all I wanted to do from that point onward was to feel strong.
And oh my actual god did I feel strong that day. Like Richmond strong on steroids. I have never felt that strong undertaking any challenge I've ever done. That is the power of faith. That is the power of friendship.
In retrospect I feel bad that I sort of bolted off from those of you I was walking with after the bridge but I had to go and prove to myself that I could do this not only with others but entirely alone. Because those people insisted I needed to be watched over because I was incapable. So I had to take that out of the equation, and I more than got my wish. I got my wish on that long windy straight, with those horizontal misty gusts blasting me from the north, where I had to pause to pull on gloves, zip up hood, adjust buff, ensure I was energized and safe and ready to go forward.
To go forth and BUZZ.
I walked a few paces past the shelter and stopped to look around me. Couldn't see much for the mist, but I knew there was a parade of angels walking with me. I had told Rukai on Friday 'you know whose up at the top of that mountain? All the angels are up there, waiting for us to come and say hi.' And I'd said it then but now I believed it. And I got moving again with such power and such gratitude that I was back there so soon to lay this demon to rest.
And the banter with strangers about the 'view' was a delight, one told me I could get a coffee up top. I told her I had a very special beer to drink. Through the smiles, more walking, more thinking of just what this meant to me and after one such exchange when I looked up, I expected to see more mist...but I saw the summit.
I saw a huge beam of light threatening to break up that mass of clouds, and I could have stayed there for an hour to savor the remainder of the journey. And it had been such a long journey that really began in the Yorkshire Dales, on Easter Sunday. Those first steps so tinged with 'you're not good enough' from impatient strangers. Those strangers I'd proven myself to once, and here I was about to do it again.
I smiled with every step. I slowed right down to remember every inch. I didn't want this to end. And then I was going up a staircase and turning right. Then walking past where I'd been standing - via train - two days prior. Then left up more steps to the trig point.
And then the gloves are off.
I win. They lose. Thank you Snowdon for letting me in. I cannot possibly thank you enough.
My hand pressed down, my poles raised in the air and I'm punching at the sky, teeth clenched, yes I DID it. I DID it. I DID it. Strangers up top, I took a photo for them and they returned the favour.
I spotted Em approaching the summit steps and roared into her camera lens. I saw Kathy and Liz rounding the corner. And then I saw little more than my memories. I just remember sitting down as they were gathering around behind me. Through the joy and elation I put my head into my hands and bawled my eyes out.
It was over.
It was over.
I know everyone there knew how much it meant to me and your kind words and hugs and congrats will stay with me forever. I said on the day I wished I could be that happy forever. But I tell you what - as long as I keep on climbing, keep striving, keep achieving, I will be.
The only way is UP.
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