Donegal woman, cancer survivor and adaptive adventurer Nikki Bradley has set a new record this weekend as the first crutch user to complete the 4 Peak Challenge.
The 32-year-old and her team have successfully climbed 4 of Ireland’s most iconic mountains in 24 hours, driving around the country through night and day on a whirlwind adventure for three charities – The Irish Cancer Society, Action Cancer and The Ross Nugent Foundation.
The four climbers were greeted by friends and family for an emotional celebration at the foot of Errigal on Sunday afternoon.
Now that it is all done, Nikki admits that she still hasn’t fully grasped the events of the weekend.
“I’m still feeling the adrenaline from it all,” Nikki told Donegal Woman.
“I’m so proud of the team, more than anything I did myself, this really was a team effort. The guys literally had to climb all the mountains with me, drive, navigate and support me when I needed them.”
The 4 Peaks team was comprised of Irish Army soldier Billy Fanneran, Mountaineer Iain Miller and Nikki’s boyfriend Ian Parke, who Nikki says, ‘has a level of natural fitness I don’t think I’ve ever seen before’.
The weekend was full of literal and emotional highs and lows for the team. Setting out at 6am from Kerry, they scaled Carrauntoohil before heading to Croagh Patrick in Co. Mayo, then on to Slieve Donard to climb through the night until their final summit on Errigal.
“Coming down Slieve Donard was a low point for me,” said Nikki, “My hip had started getting quite sore, simply because of how loose it is and the severity of the nerve damage.”
“It loosened on the way down Croagh Patrick and again on Slieve Donard. That made the descent feel very long and painful for me.”
The 4 Peaks team set out for Slieve Donard at 3am on Sunday morning, leaving their van in complete darkness.
Nikki said: “At this time all you want to do is sleep, but you just have to put on your head torch and head into the forest.
“One of the best moments was on Slieve Donard too. The view on the way up was absolutely incredible. You are above the clouds and it is an incredible sight.”
By the time they reached Donegal, the exhaustion and emotions were having an impact, but a support team at the foot of the mountain gave Nikki a great boost.
Crowds who had gathered for the Seven Sisters Mountain Trail Marathon gave a round of applause to the team and formed a guard of honour for their final ascent.
“Coming back down the mountain I saw my family and friends with banners and I felt a mixture of pride, completely raw emotion… and a little bit of embarrassment!”
Representatives from the Ross Nugent Foundation and the Irish Cancer Society came out to show their support at the final peak.
“We had some amazing acts of kindness along the way which helped us so much. I knew the people of Ireland were good, but I didn’t know just how good they are when you need them most,” Nikki said.
Nikki’s boyfriend Ian presented her with a bespoke plaque using stone from the four mountains to remember the challenge forever.
“It was the most touching gesture. Ian was with me through the dark times, the training and the whole journey. What more could you want in a partner,” Nikki said.
The challenge is another triumph for Nikki as she affirms her message of the importance of exercise for rehabilitation. Through her campaign ‘Fighting Fit for Ewing’s’, Nikki sets tough challenges for herself as a way of inspiring others.
Nikki’s unstoppable nature is not going to slow down just yet. She might not have the desire to tackle any more mountains for a while, but she will continue fundraising and work with others on charity events to increase the total.
“For now I’m going to enjoy being on the ground – flat ground!”
If you would like to donate to the 4 Peaks Challenge, visit: www.gofundme.com/4peaksTags: