By Christine Lee
Last year, my husband Taylor was invited to an event called Hell on the Hill. It’s an event where people of all different backgrounds including marathon runners, Ironman Triathletes, UFC fighters, and veterans are invited to a challenge -- a challenge that tests you not only physically but your mental fortitude as well. You are tasked to run up and down a steep hill 100 times for a total of 8.4 miles. Why would anyone want to do this? For me, I had no choice. “No” was not an option.
Jesse Itzler and his wife Sarah Blakley, the power couple behind the race started this event for fun. It’s special and unique because it’s in the backyard of their lake house! There is no race fee and THEY personally donate $1000 to each participant’s charity of choice for completing the race. Through this race, they raise awareness about different charities while promoting health, fitness, and wellness.
This year, Taylor was invited again by Jesse and was super excited to participate even though he barely survived last year’s race because of his messed-up knee. You can read more about his experience in his recap here.
One day Taylor joked that he’s going to need me to tag-team with him and take on a few laps on The Hill. I thought why not, a few laps wouldn't be bad at all since I’ve always been into fitness and playing sports. More recently, I started running this year with some friends, so when Taylor suggested taking a few laps for him, I knew I could manage.
But I wasn’t prepared when on Tuesday night I asked Taylor, “What percentage do you think I’m going to run?”
He flatly replied, “Oh all of it.” There was no discussion after this response as I tried to absorb the magnitude of what he just said and count the number of days until race day: 4.
I knew that Taylor is not one to miss out on this chance to participate again. Knowing about his injured knee, his high pain tolerance level, and how badly he wanted to participate, I silently agreed to take his place.
While I have done some 5Ks and 10Ks, I’ve never participated in a physical activity that took more than 1.5 hours, and this event was known to take up to 4 hours.
So, the day after I found out I was doing The Hill I put in a good cram session hour on a stair master while thinking thank God at least I had many Maven workouts under my belt as well as some running on the weekends.
Before the race started on race day, everyone talked about where they’re from and the charities they represented. Two stood out: a young woman, beautiful and super fit, with stage IV lung cancer running for her very own personal charity; and Dan an ex-marine who lost his leg in battle. Their stories touched me so much that my nervousness turned into thankfulness and feeling beyond honored to be doing this with them.
Going through The Hill was truly hell.
But when you have inspiring people running this in order to raise money for their charities and all of the supportive spectators, it pushes you on. These people who overcame so much adversity kept me going even though I wanted to stop and take breaks.
I’m proud to say that I finished 25th out of 70. Wow, I finished and survived the race! Although my legs are still healing days after, I think being consistent with Maven training helped me to survive this type of brutality.
Anyway, I love a good challenge and it was an opportunity to support Zimele USA, an amazing charity which has helped thousands of South African women in rural villages to launch their own businesses and deeply impact their respective communities. I would instantly do this again if I could -- to be surrounded by such incredible human beings and to be inspired by them and their stories.