About a year ago, my good friend Nick told me about this hiking trail in Corsica called the GR20, which is supposed to be one of the toughest in all of Europe, and he suggested it would make a great trip to test our abilities. It looked like a cool idea, but I kept on telling him that I would never have the money or time for such a trip.
After working for lululemon for about six months, the manifesto has really been creating an impact on my life. One phrase in particular really speaks to me: do something once a day that scares you. I thought about it and told Nick I was in for the GR20. We both agreed that if we were to attempt completing this hike, we would have to make it epic.
180 km, 4 days
To save our time and bank accounts we would give ourselves only 4 days to finish the 180km trail with over 25,000m of elevation change. Most people take about 15 days to hike the entire GR20 but we figured that a couple of young guys who can run a marathon under 3 hours at any given time should be able to tackle a few mountains in 4 days.
As we started to research and plan the trip, I soon realized how difficult this would be. We would be carrying our backpacks the entire way with all our food and gear. The route climbs and descends 2000-4000m each day on rugged terrain. Just to prepare, I did almost all my training runs in the months leading up to the trip, including a few marathons, with my backpack on. As my departure to Europe drew near, I will admit that I was filled with fear and uncertain of what I would be capable of doing.
Nick and I began our adventure just before 6am. Right away, we knew we were going to be in for a long few days. There was no room for excuses; we just had to keep moving. The experience was the most challenging and difficult that I have ever experienced, as well as beautiful and inspiring. I pushed myself through fear and pain and found I was capable of much more than I gave myself credit for.
By the end of the second day, I could barely take another step because I was so exhausted and sore. We had no choice but to continue since there was no road access until we finished the following stage. Once I was moving again, I loosened up and from then on, it was just about getting to the next stage.
days 3 and 4
I hiked for an average of 15 hours a day. On the last day, I had 51km to cover until I reached the end of the trail in Conca. I knew that I would not make all my connections to make it back home if I did not get to the end before the next morning. I kept moving forward, fighting through fear and fatigue, until I finally finished at 1am, 19 hours after I started out that morning.
I worked tremendously hard, and broadened my comfort zone exponentially. Every kilometer of the trail was a fight and I am so grateful to my friend Nick, who challenged me to do something that scares me. After GR20, running 100 miles in one day doesn’t seem so scary. Well, I guess there’s only one way to find out.