When it comes to home workouts, Rachel Holden’s probably beats yours.
The 34-year-old neuro physio from Chorley has climbed the world’s highest mountain… on her stairs at home.
In just one month plucky Rachel tackled 3,871 flights of stairs (that’s 129 a day), scaling an extraordinary 8,850 metres.
“I’d seen people doing different challenges on social media and decided to have a go at something myself,” said Rachel.
“I don’t really like running but I used to do a lot of hill walking so I thought that could be a good idea. I noticed that my FitBit recorded flights of stairs. Out of curiosity, I decided to work out how many flights of stairs it would take to climb Everest.
“129 flights of stairs seemed reasonable when I was sat on my couch with a brew… but when I started I soon realised how difficult it was going to be. The first day took me more than two hours and I had to stop for a rest every 10 flights of stairs because my knees were hurting so much.”
The almighty feat originally started merely as a personal goal. But halfway through the epic challenge – when Rachel admits she was flagging in stamina and sanity – she saw on the news that Derian House Children’s Hospice charity shop had been targeted by thieves.
The story brought out a steely new resolve in Rachel and she decided to not only complete her mountainous challenge, but to do it for Derian!
“I had plenty of low points during the challenge,” said Rachel.
“It got to the point where I thought ‘this is too much’ and I thought I might stop. It was around then that I saw on the news that Derian House charity shop in Chorley had been broken into and I thought ‘that’s not right, especially during these times.’ So I decided to carry on and see if I could raise some money for the charity.
“I received messages of support from as far away as Australia which really gave me the boost I needed to carry on.”
Rachel originally set out to raise £100 for Derian House Children’s Hospice – a charity that cares for more than 400 children with life-limiting conditions and their families from across the North West.
But after capturing the imagination of supporters, she managed to raise £457 – more than four times her original goal.
On her final day of the challenge, Rachel decided to go outdoors, and climbed the final metres with a walk up to Healey Nab memorial forest in Chorley where her late stepfather John Miller, has a plot.
She said: “On the last day my mum accompanied me on the climb and she ran ahead so she could present me with a medal and a mini bottle of Prosecco as a celebration when I “summited” as I reached my stepdad’s tree.
“I floated back down as the Prosecco had gone straight to my legs! I’ve since enjoyed a week off from exercise and my knees are thanking me for it. Thanks once again to everyone who donated.”
Caroline Taylor, Communications Manager at Derian House Children’s Hospice, said: “We are all in absolute awe of Rachel and the stamina and resolve it must have taken to complete such an epic challenge. We can’t thank her enough for thinking of our children and young people.
“The forced cancellations of our summer events calendar and closure of our charity shops has meant Derian House will lose more than £250,000 in donations that we were relying on. It is people like Rachel who are helping us to bridge the gap.”
The charity is asking people if they could “do it for Derian” during lockdown and take on a creative fundraising challenge to help care for families in need now, during the coronavirus pandemic, and in the future.
Visit www.derianhouse.co.uk/derian-events/doitforderian to find out how you could get involved.
You can still show your support by donating to Rachel’s Everest challenge by visiting www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Rachs-MtEverest-Lockdown-Challenge
Week one: Decided to set myself a challenge for the month. I’d seen people on social media walking all sorts of distances around their gardens and wondered if I should try a half marathon?
A quick glance at my Fitbit sealed my fate. “It counts flights of stairs. Hmm, wonder how high a mountain is?” A little Google later and I’d stumbled on a list of world mountains in flights of stairs. And there it was…. gleaming away in a league of its own.
Drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I couldn’t look away. “Could I? I mean 3,871 flights of stairs isn’t that much is it?”
Out came the calculator. “It’s only 129 flights per day. I’m in. Wish me and my knees luck!”
Week two: It turns out that “only” 129 flights is tougher than it sounds. The first few days were spent questioning my sanity (and stamina), alongside wondering when the burning sensation in my calves would stop.
Week three: I’m now on day 20. I have completed at least 129 flights every day. I have 10 days left and I’m not going to lie, I’m struggling mentally to get through this. I’ve never felt as shattered! My knees don’t know what’s hit them. It’s becoming a daily battle to get my backside in gear and get going.
I initially started this as a personal challenge, I hadn’t mentioned it to anyone as I really wasn’t sure I would be able to complete it (so much self-confidence eh?!).
But I’ve come to realise, I might just be able to raise a bit of cash for a local charity in the process of this madness. So, I’ve decided to go public with it, in the hopes it will give me a much-needed kick up the proverbial and support a worthy cause.
Week four: I reached the “summit” with only 73 flights to complete that day due to some ‘over stepping’ most days through the month. I arrived to cheers, Prosecco and a medal from my number one cheerleader (thanks mum!)
I did it! 30 days, tallest mountain on the planet, 8,848m of ascent, a total of 3,871 flights of stairs. What a month!
I just want to take the opportunity to send out my heartfelt thanks to everyone who donated. What started as a personal challenge, with no intention behind it other than “Can I do it?” has raised more than £400 for a charity that really needs it!