On the 25th May 2013, I married Sophie, aka Challenge Sophie, in a beautiful ceremony on the Seine, up in Normandy. After a wonderful couple of days, we set off on our honeymoon – two months in the outdoors Mecca, Chamonix. In a not so typical turn, we were going to be starting our honeymoon with a week at the Chamonix Mountain Festival, a brand new outdoor meetup for climbers and mountaineers.
At the end of May, Sophie and I are moving to Chamonix, France, a small village at the base of Mont Blanc. Chamonix is home to some of the world’s most incredible athletes, adventurers, and explorers, and soon to be our home.
From trail running and downhill mountain biking, to rock climbing and ice climbing, to paragliding and even BASE-jumping, Chamonix is a Mecca of the outdoors and where Sophie and I have dreamed of living for many years.
On 26th April Challenge Sophie, Alex Ledger, and I set off on our first Ultra marathon, to run London to Brighton through the stunning English trails of the Wandle River, the North Downs Way, Sussex Trail, and finally the South Downs Way. We ran 62 miles over 16 hours, on an incredible adventure that showed us some of the beautiful English countryside, pushed our minds to the limits and tested our bodies beyond what any of us we had tried before.
As of June, Sophie and I will be in Chamonix. In part, as preparation for the Alpine Coast to Coast but, also, to realise a dream I’ve held for the last few years:
My Alpine Apprenticeship
It has been 63 years since the Peak District was opened as Britain’s first National Park. Spanning an area of 550 square miles and 6 counties, it is home to some of the most beautiful countryside our shores have on offer.
I have spent countless weekends out in the hills of the Peak; days climbing on Stanage Edge, winter walking on Kinder Scout, camping with friends, and more. Here is a selection of my 5 favourite activities in the Peak District.
I’ve changed. I can see it in the mirror but, most importantly, I feel it inside – in my general well being, my state of mind, and my drive and motivation. It hasn’t come easy, there has been a huge amount of sacrifice, and I’ve worked very hard to re-educate my body and re-align my requirements. The results? I’ve lost 2 stone, countless inches, sleeping incredibly, and, to top it all off, I’ve the beginnings of abs.
Since finally getting off my backside, out of the pub and tying on a pair of running shoes several years ago, I have changed. A lot. From not being able to run a few miles to running marathons. From never having tied onto a climbing rope to leading steep ice climbs at high altitude. And from working for the man to starting two new businesses and venturing out into the incredible world of technology and startups.
It’s 8am on a Monday morning, my lungs are burning and my legs feel like lead, but a smile is spreading across my face. I’m running to work and I’m on the home stretch of the 6.5 miles route. I’m going to be sitting down for the rest of the day, there is no need to leave anything in the tank, no need to hold back, now is the time to go all out. I make the last turn and I’m there. I stumble to a halt, bent over double to catch my breath and checked my watch.
44 minutes 23 seconds since I set off from home. My personal best.
If you ask, you just might get 🙂
— Sebastian Flynn (@sebflynn101) March 19, 2014
People often ask what it is about climbing and mountaineering that I enjoy. What is it that motivates me? What is it that makes me spend the majority of my holidays tied to vertical walls, wading through snow, or shivering at a belay?
Sometimes it is the of impact being in these environments can have on me as a person, sometimes it is the sense of achievement of climbing something I didn’t think I could.
At the end of the day, though, it boils down to the simple joy of sharing new experiences.
With both new and old friends, filling my lungs with fresh air and just feeling like a kid again, playing in the great outdoors.
Many of you people may know, last year was rather full on. I had invested everything in my second business, Goals for Giving, and it hadn’t worked out, you can read more about that here. A month after closing my business, I married an amazing and understanding woman, Sophie Radcliffe. I was completely burnt out leading up to the wedding and Sophie and I decided that we needed to have a proper break and focus on our future.
One of the key steps to my recovery was an inspiring and, dare I say it, life changing climb I completed that pushed both my physical and mental boundaries leaving me exhausted but liberated.
If this sounds a bit over the top then please let me try and explain.
Hi everyone! This is going to be my new blog – I’m not 100% sure what I will be talking about but hopefully you will enjoy!