The Extraordinary Underdog

Part I

When I was first made aware of the advert asking for ‘ordinary women’ to apply to be part of the first all female team to walk to the North Pole, my first reaction was probably the same as many; that’s not for me and they don’t really mean ‘ordinary women’, especially ordinary women with no experience and young children, they mean outward bound instructors, mountaineers or experienced outdoor people.

I almost didn’t apply…..

But ‘ordinary women’ is what the advert said and I fitted the bill, so after further consideration I decided to apply. I was certainly afraid of failing, but I’m a firm believer we shouldn’t allow the fear of failure to stop us trying new things, otherwise we will never achieve anything worthwhile.

I filled in the application form with some trepidation and sent £75 to cover the cost of the selection weekend, wondering if I would ever hear anything back or whether I’d appear on crime watch, a gullible victim of a clever money making scam.

Thankfully I received joining instructions, together with an extensive kit list of items I would need for the weekend. I didn’t own one single piece of equipment or have the financial means to buy any of it. What could I do? Few things are achieved without the help and generosity of others and I lived in a military town and had many military friends so I got on the phone and within a short period of time I had everything I needed. From the boots on my feet to the rucksack on my back.

Comically, apart from my shiny black boots, my attire was a drab olive green, some of it was far too large for my small frame, but it meant I could go to Dartmoor so I was overjoyed.

I set off from my cosy warm home full of happy bubbly toddlers, on a cold drab rainy day, not knowing what to expect on Dartmoor and with fear and doubts in my mind.

I kept asking myself ‘what the hell was I doing!” I’d never even had walking boots on my feet before or carried a rucksack anywhere. I had no chance. I thought of the kids and what I would say to them if I gave up before giving it my best shot and, with the kids at the forefront of my mind, I pushed my self doubts to the back of my head and continued my drive to Dartmoor.

As I approached the moors they looked like something out of a horror movie. Desolate, wet and dark, doing nothing to allay my fears. As I arrived in Wydemeet, where the selection was to take place, I noticed immediately that every other woman seemed to be comfortable in their surroundings and were dressed in well worn recognisable outdoor gear.

I immediately felt intimidated and my self-doubts came stomping from the back of my mind once again. There was nothing I could do now but to get on with it. What I didn’t know at the time was, that dressed as I was in military fatigues, I myself looked intimidating and many of the other women were just as afraid of me. The thought still makes me laugh.

On that cold and desolate part of the country I knew I would need to find my inner-strength, this is where my self-determination and strong would come into play….

To be continued….

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