Remembering young lives with an epic challenge
This year, Will and his friends teamed up to take on an incredible challenge in memory of young lives lost.
In 2007, my brother James Harrison died of pulmonary embolisms.
In 2009, Tim Roney, Chris Puddifoot and Karen Puddifoot decided to raise money for the British Lung Foundation by cycling around the world in memory of James, who was their friend. During the trip, Karen and Tim passed away after a tourist boat they were on in Vietnam capsized.
After the death of his sister and best friend, Chris returned to the family home to support his parents and younger sister. He tragically died in a car accident in November 2009.
1,000 miles in 9 days
The EP1C challenge came about in the lead up to the 10 year anniversary of my brother’s death.
The plan was to cycle 1,000 miles in 9 days from Land’s End to John O’Groats. After finishing, we would do the National Three Peaks Challenge. That means we would climb Ben Nevis, Scarfell Pike and Mount Snowdon in 24 hours.
The challenge was planned to commemorate not just my brother James, but also Tim Roney, Chris and Karen Puddifoot and Daniel Probyn. We wanted to tackle the two hardest challenges in the United Kingdom, back to back.
And we did. The challenge was an opportunity to remember and talk about the tragic story of all of the young lives that were lost, and raise money for a charity that means a lot to the families of everyone involved.
It was the most difficult activity I (along with the other participants) had ever undertaken and truly - even with intense training - lived up to the name EP1C Challenge.
I was violently ill
Along the ride everyone had their bad days and there wasn’t a body that didn't hurt throughout the challenge.
Towards the end of the ride, it was really difficult. I was physically exhausted. I was violently ill, couldn’t stomach any food and the weather was overcast with a 20-mph head wind.
I had to stop every 10 miles to drink water and take as much food as I could stomach because I couldn’t ride and take my hands off the handlebar to take on food and water.
Every 35 miles, when we took a break, I’d lie down and instantly fall asleep.
But I put on my jacket, pulled my beanie over my helmet and refused to give in.
The team got me over the line
The guys in the team got me over the finish line. I don’t remember much of the day, but I know that if it wasn’t for the other guys and my memories of those we had lost, I wouldn’t have got over the line.
I couldn’t eat proper food for a few weeks and even turned down free fried chicken!
The best part of the journey was spending just under 11 days with some amazing guys, the support crew and creating amazing memories. The start of the ride with the atmosphere and the sense of emotion to be there after a year of organizing and training was amazing. We soon worked out it was difficult to ride teary-eyed!
We rode some amazing hills and cycled through the lochs in Scotland. The morale was so high and it became obvious that this type of challenge is the best way to see the country.
I also loved getting to the top of all the peaks with everyone. One memorable moment was reaching the top of Snowden, where everyone congratulated each other. Celebrations turned to tears as we reflected on the last few days and the sense of achievement.
We raised £33,000
Raising £30,000 to commemorate my brother in the year he would have turned 30 was incredible. We raised £33,000 collectively, which fulfilled the promise I’d made to Chris and Karen’s dad - who also got involved in the challenge - to get the Karen’s Journey fund to over £100,000.
I’d absolutely recommend fundraising. There’s such a sense of achievement in doing something great, not just to help others but to see how far you can push yourselves.
You can’t recreate the feeling you get when you achieve something you never believed you could. Even with the pain, I'd do it all again.