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Over the weekend of 19-20 June a team of ten K2 colleagues, along with Aon client partners, completed the Race To The King Challenge — a gruelling 53.6 miles in total. The team undertook this immense challenge with their minds set on raising as much money as possible for The Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity.

What it involved

Richard Rutledge explains: “Race to the King is a two-day challenge, starting in Arundel, traversing the South Downs and finishing in Winchester. Day one covers just over 23 miles, and day two, just over 30 miles. You have the option to walk or run the route and we had team members who were doing both. K2 haven’t done an event like this before — and it certainly was challenging at times! But the sense of achievement and reward in the knowledge we’re supporting such a fantastic cause makes it all worth it. It was a terrific team effort we’re very proud of.”

How did the team find the challenge?

Miranda Barras-Smith recounts:
Day one

Meeting very early on a misty Saturday at Goodwood Races, everyone was filled with coffee and flapjacks, carrying backpacks full of spare socks and blister plasters. All feeling pretty nervous and anxious with the challenge ahead of us. No Goodwood racing finery and attire today, just lots of layers and comfy walking boots or trainers.

Training to get to this point for all of the group came in all shapes and sizes: some of the team had been training hard, going on lots of very long walks and runs, and for others training was little and often, preferring not to risk any injuries in the lead up. Regardless of the preparation undertaken, all of the team ‘showed up’ and were ready to take on the challenge and make it to the finish line still smiling. This weekend was all about enjoying the miles, views and company — raising money for such a great cause: The Rainbow Trust.

We were off at 7.30am, some of the team decided to run the first day (not me!), we clapped and cheered as they set off. The rest of the group got a steady momentum going, walking at approximately 5-6km an hour. The first organised pit stop wasn’t until the 8.8 mile mark so we were keen to reach this in good time.

The South Downs route is mainly through woodland and fields, with some very steep hills along the way. Pit stops were 8-10 miles apart, well stocked with sweets, crisps and sandwiches and often placed with a beast of a hill to follow straight after. As you reached the pit stop you could see walkers and runners already taking on the steep ascent ahead, which propelled you to take on some energy supply to get you up there. Skittles were my personal favourite to keep me going!

Day one was a steady plod to the finish line, fatigue had started to set in at about mile 19 (of 23) and my feet were starting to feel very hot and tired. A long stretch was so welcome! Despite the constant drizzle of rain and the need to maintain social distancing and wear masks where applicable, we were able to comfortably sit in a marquee, have a nice celebratory drink and meal before camping for the night. Some of the team were very stiff and sore, with some apprehension that they might not be able to move by the morning.

Day two

After a night camping in a small tent, listening to the sound of rain all night (and the regular sound of a tent zip opening when nature was calling), porridge, bacon rolls and extra strong coffee were a much needed breakfast to get us going. The team set off at 6.30am, knowing we had an approximate 10 hour walk in front of us. Some people were suffering with injuries from day one, with lots of blisters and knees taped up — just a mere 30 miles to go.

As the miles slowly ticked over and the heavy mud from the rain felt like walking in treacle, general tiredness, aches and pains caused motivation to wane, however the people you met along the way, taking on the challenge to raise money for a loved one, a positive recovery from illness or a recently-passed family pet, really helped, you were grateful for the interaction and the amazing back stories, which inspired you to keep going.

Hills, hills, hills — whilst there were fewer on day two, there were still a few killer ones that felt like they went on and on. Equally, what goes up must come down, some of the descents on chalky, loose limestone were tricky to navigate and tough on the knees. You had to closely watch your step and keep alert to avoid a sprained ankle!

As we marched (waddled) on, the group had broken into lots of smaller groups and a couple of sole walkers, but you were never far away from a K2 smiley team member to gee you up and walk with you when you were feeling low. Massive thanks to Richard and Jenny Rutledge and Simon Price who were all so great at keeping spirits up and checking in on everyone along the way.

I started to really feel the pain and discomfort at about mile 47, the legs were tired and my back was sore. I remember the moment when passing the 50 mile sign and feeling the elation of only two miles to go, only to then be reminded that the race is 53 miles — and also realising my pace had significantly dropped to approx. 1-2 miles per hour — I couldn’t carry on for another three hours!

With the sight of Winchester’s buildings in the distance my colleague Josh (who had an injured knee causing searing pain) and I literally plodded on. The WhatsApp pings from fellow team members letting the group know they had finished started to become more frequent — we were nearly there.

Reaching the finishing line at Winchester Cathedral, to be met by fellow participants and a few friendly faces was very emotional, relief had hit, we had been going for nearly 11 hours.

As we stood at the finish line and waved each other off, we were all very proud of each other and what we had accomplished. Someone asked me the next day ‘Would you do it again?’ to which I immediately answered ‘No way!’ but a few days later, seeing what we were all able to achieve as a group, supporting each other and all the very generous colleagues, friends, families and partners that sponsored us, it was absolutely worth it and I would do it again. The muscles are easing but the memories remain, ’til next time!

How you can further support the K2/Aon team

Richard comments: “We were delighted to take part in this challenge alongside our longstanding partners at Aon. We are so proud of all the team members who got involved, for their huge effort, and their integral role in raising such a sizeable sum of money for a fantastic cause.

So far, the K2 team have raised over £15,000 for the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity, which makes us really proud and just shows that all of the team’s dedication and hard work was worth it. Our target for this challenge was to raise £6000, so we are very pleased with the donations we have received.”

If you would like to sponsor us further, it’s not too late.

K2’s long-standing relationship with the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity

As part of our global charitable fundraising and CSR, each of K2’s regional offices have adopted a charity that they support that creates benefit to the community that they work within. K2 Europe has been a long-term fundraiser for the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity.

The Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity enables families who have a child with a life-threatening illness to make the most of their time together. Each family is paired with an expert family support worker who provides practical and emotional support to all members of the family, where they need it, for as long as they need it. When everything is turned upside down, a dedicated family support worker becomes a trusted and constant person in family life.

The money we have raised so far with this event (over £15,000) would enable the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity to provide close to 600 hours of support.

Here is how your donations could help:

  • £26 pays for an hour of practical and emotional support, helping the family to make the most of their precious time.
  • £182 pays for a day’s visit from a family support worker, allowing parents to leave the house or simply sleep.
  • £624 pays for an hour of weekly bereavement support for six months for a family from their family support worker.
  • £1780 is the average cost of a year’s support for a family with a seriously ill child.

All donations are very much appreciated.

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