Gregathlon: Pedal to the Peaks for Sport Relief - The Limelight InsightLast Friday during the BBC televised Sport Relief show it was announced that Gregathlon: Pedal to the Peaks for Sport Relief has raised a staggering £1,090,522. Not only did the challenge raise a huge amount of money, it opened up the conversation around mental health and fully embraced the message of “Never Give Up”.
Limelight Sports was privileged to support Greg James on this epic challenge attempt - to summit the highest peaks in Wales, England and Scotland, cycling the 500 miles between them, over a five day period. Our role included concept creation, route planning, transportation, accommodation, and support team logistics, whilst also ensuring that broadcast capabilities were facilitated throughout.
When we proposed the Pedal to the Peaks concept to the BBC and Comic Relief, we knew that the weather in February would add to the challenge, pushing Greg to his physical and mental limits. What we had not factored in was the Polar Vortex aka Beast from the East….We started the challenge hopeful that the weather would not get the better of us, and with Snowdon conquered and over 80 miles cycling completed on Day 1, spirits were high. Waking up to heavy snowfall on Day 2, however, changed everything. It is in these situations that Limelight’s comprehensive planning comes in to play. Drawing on all the information we had available to us – accurate weather reports, liaison with The Highways and our independent H&S Advisor, discussions with the support team regarding appropriate equipment etc, the decision was made to continue but to change Greg to a mountain bike which meant a much slower cycle on a day where he was already due to be in the saddle for over 12 hours. The conditions were brutal, but Greg cycled over 100 miles on Day 2. Day 3 was yet another test of mental strength as the weather had worsened further. Team movements were limited to just the minimum required to attempt to summit Scafell Pike. Another climb achieved, but proving even tougher than Snowdon and the challenge was clearly starting to take its toll on Greg.
As Day 3 continued, so did the blizzards. A rare red weather warning was issued for Scotland and with that Limelight had to make the extremely tough decision to stop the challenge – it was just not safe to go on.
Gregathlon: Pedal to the Peaks had become much more than the physical challenge – watching / hearing Greg James struggle to complete the challenge in brutal weather conditions but refusing to give up, always reinforcing how important it is to speak out about how you are feeling, people were touched and inspired. Letters of support and donations were handed to us along the route / left on our cars / sent in to BBC Radio 1 and Comic Relief – people from all walks of life sharing their mental health stories, reaching out, pledging fundraising. The challenge had touched people’s lives. So being defeated was not an option. We were back on the road two weeks later to attempt to complete what we had started. And we did. Beast from the East also tried to have a part 2, but this time it was not going to get the better of us. Just before 5pm on 16 March 2018 Greg James conquered Ben Nevis in winds of over 50mph.
I can honestly say that this was one of the most challenging but rewarding programmes that we have ever worked on. The interest and media coverage generated, particularly on radio and social, was astounding and enabled so many people to get involved and follow Greg. This in turn inspired them to support the cause and to raise so much money. It further highlighted the vital importance of the Active World and using inspiring physical challenges as a vehicle to raise awareness and fundraise to help tackle some of the physical and mental problems that face society.