Luke Westoe and Darren Purvis are about to take on the gruelling task of completing 'The Andrew Grounsell Challenge'.
This challenge, dedicated to their late friend Andrew Grounsell, will not only incorporate the well-known, Three Peaks Challenge, but will see these two cycling enthusiasts battle through several more days of mountainous terrain and wild countryside, all in aid of two local charities to commemorate their friend.
Luke and Darren have titled their event ‘The Andrew Grounsell Challenge’ after their good friend and colleague, who sadly lost his battle to cancer in October 2016. Andrew was just 54 and had fought bowel cancer for two years, before finally passing.
The two charities chosen are Maggies in Newcastle, who provided support for Andrew’s family during the time that Andrew was being treated, and The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation who Andrew admired for the support they provide and their funding of patient cancer trials. Andrew was due to undertake a clinical trial but sadly passed away before he had the chance.
The official launch of the challenge took place on 28th March with both charities and the pair meeting up with Alan Shearer who is one of the patrons of The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Luke and Darren’s epic challenge will see them cycle from Newcastle, down into Wales where they will climb the first peak of Snowdon, then cycle north into the Lake District to climb Scafell Pike, then cycle further north into Scotland where they climb the final peak, Ben Nevis. They then head East via Edinburgh cycling the last stretch down the East Coast via Bamburgh, a place where Andrew spent much of his spare time and where he is now buried. The last leg of the event leaves Bamburgh and sees them return to Newcastle to complete the event.
Three local companies have become partners of the event; Start Fitness who have provided cycle clothing; the Cycle Centre Newcastle who are providing bike servicing, sports nutrition and spares, and the Newcastle Van Centre in Byker who will provide the support vehicle. The pair are however, actively seeking further support and sponsors.
They have set themselves a gruelling target of completing the course in 9 days from 25th August – 2nd September, which will see them cycling through 3 countries, covering over 1000 miles and 40,000 ft of climbing on the bike, with10,000 ft of climbing on foot to ascend the three peaks.
For most people, just completing the iconic and tough Three Peaks Challenge over 24 hours would be enough, but not this pair. They are adding a whole new challenge to something that is already considered one of the most exhausting of UK events. With that comes an even more punishing training programme to ensure they can complete it within the nine-day target.
The training is going well. Darren said that: “To coin a cyclists phrase; we just need to ‘get the miles in’. We have already been on one gruelling ride together where we covered over 90 miles and climbed c. 8500ft on the hills around Durham.”
Luckily, the pair are no strangers to such challenges. Luke said that: “Back in the summer of 2014, Darren and I cycled from Lands End to John O’Groats, completing about 873 miles in 7 days on our road bikes. The event saw us raise a total of £16,500 for Children with Cancer UK.”
That’s not to say this challenge will be easy. Luke said: “The most challenging aspect is the physical one: getting up each morning and getting back in the saddle. It's a case of ‘Eat Sleep Ride Repeat!’
“We are incredibly motivated. Firstly and most importantly to raise money for two local charities in memory of Andrew, and secondly, the personal and physical challenge of conquering this epic endurance challenge.”
Luke and Darren are keen for friends, family, colleagues and supporters to join them on one of the walks up the three peaks, for a leg of the cycling, or on the ride from Bamburgh to Newcastle on the last day.
You can follow their journey on Twitter @ag_challenge
The fundraising page is www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/agchallenge to donate whatever you can.