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How to get by with a little help from your friends

6 October 2014: posted by BigChange

Tatiana Colhoun, who hails from Canada, joined us on the Haute Route hike with her husband, Grant. She shared her inspiring STRIVE story with us below…

Eight months ago my husband and I accepted the challenge to participate in trek portion of the Virgin STRIVE Challenge. I hadn’t exercised for years and I kept thinking to myself “it’s okay – you have 8 months to prepare. Besides it’s just walking. How hard can it be?”.

I remember telling my friends about this incredible adventure to support Big Change Charitable Trust and one question that I had been asked repeatedly at the time which I found particularly amusing was “Why did we want to do the trek?”. At the time I couldn’t understand why anyone would even ask this. It’s for charity and we were going on a trek in the Swiss Alps. All I had was visions of walking leisurely through fields of green grass similar to that of “The Sound of Music”.

Underestimating the trek was my first mistake. Within the first few hours I realized this was going to be the hardest physical challenge I had ever faced in my life.This was not a simple “walk” up a few mountains and yodelling when you got to the top.

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I had other things to contend with – like the tiny hole in my heart (which I hid from everyone on the trek). It quickly came to my attention that ascending was going to be extremely difficult with having less oxygen than normal coupled with the rising altitude.

It was then a number of unexpected issues suddenly surfaced. My backpack was too heavy. I couldn’t breathe and my mind started doubting myself with overwhelming thoughts of failure. I couldn’t keep up with the others. I was holding everyone back. What was I thinking when I thought I could do this? I constantly had to stay focused and challenge my inner most thoughts.

Then I thought of Roger Crawford’s quote “Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.” I was not going to be defeated.

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In that moment I realized I had access to 50 other highly capable people who were full of energy. What better place to be? I decided to put myself out there and ask for help.

The world is an amazing place. It’s filled with beautiful people who are willing to help – all you have to do is ask.

I was surrounded by great people and they surrounded me with great tips, advice and love. Don’t get me wrong, each and every single step was extremely difficult but I persevered. I took into account each and everyone’s advice and even when I couldn’t reach the last stretch of one of the peaks a knight in shining armour, Robert Devereux, graciously came down to get me and actually carried me the last few steps to the top. This trek was about teamwork, setting a goal and making sure everyone completed the goal – together. Thank you to everyone who whispered in my ear, gave me advice, a hug or that little nudge to persevere and continue on. I like to say “I get by with a little help from my friends”.