Rona – Challenge Chum Founder:
Challenge Chum started a few years back when I moved from my home town of Glasgow to RAF Shawbury to live with my husband Mark who was training to be a RAF helicopter pilot at the time. I knew no-one and was about to embark upon a completely new life in a place I didn’t know with a few months of free time on my hands before I started my new job, the world was my oyster! I knew straight away that I really wanted to spend those free months heading off on an adventure to keep me busy and try to meet some local legends who were up for doing fun things in the great outdoors and maybe make some new friends along the way.
In the past I had completed a number of physical challenges including a few marathons, a 53 mile ultra marathon (The Highland Fling), a cycle from London to Paris, the Caledonian Etape, 24 hour Three Peaks Challenge, a number of ice climbs in Scotland and a 100km Arctic Trek along with many a micro adventures thrown in for good measure too.
I searched online to try to find a challenge to take part in over the few months I had free and I put a message out on facebook to try to find someone to run, hike and wild camp along the Welsh Coastal Path with me. Unfortunately I had no such luck of finding anyone who had a few months off work, living in the same area as me with any sort of inclination to run the Welsh Coastal Path…no surprise there, it was a bit of a long shot! I came across a lot of challenge and adventure companies I could pay to do a challenge with but as much as I would have loved to have done this, these didn’t come cheap and after having just forked out for a wedding that year, I didn’t have the disposable income to pay a company a big chunk of money to go on an arranged challenge.
So instead of using the free time I had to head out on a challenge myself, I thought my time over those few months would be best used setting up a free website where people could list and join challenges in the spare time they had in the hope I could also do the same to find a local Challenge Chum in the Shawbury area to head out on adventures with. I found a local chum called Emma who lived in Shrewsbury to head out hiking and climbing with which was awesome and exactly what I’d set out to do.
Since then we’ve had over 100 worldwide challenges that have been listed on the Challenge Chum website and great endorsements from world renowned adventurers, athletes, coaches and ordinary people doing extraordinary things too.
This year we’ve decided to strip the site back completely and focus solely on UK based challenges for the time being because we have found that the close proximity of chums is key to getting the challenges off the ground. People generally like to meet each other in a neutral place first before they embark on a challenge together to make sure there’s no personality clashes and to give themselves a chance to get to know each other and plan together before they head off adventuring which we totally support.
If we build up a big enough UK base the next step will be to expand things out further to new people and places across the globe. Whatever happens, the website has been created as a free and useful platform for people with goals and aspirations in the great outdoors and want to find a crew to join them. Our core ethos will always be for our users to create big adventures, new friendships and epic stories within whatever budget they have at their disposal.
As for my current adventures, they’ve taken a bit of a backseat while I take on the biggest challenge of all having had a little one. Despite this, I’ve still got some challenge and adventure plans in the pipeline that will be getting listed on Challenge Chum very soon!
My Challenge Chums:
I’ve not created Challenge Chum on my own, I’ve had some legendary chums who have all loved the ethos behind the site and got on board to help me out along the way and for that I’ll be forever grateful!
This photo says all you need to know about Becky, with the most amazing zest for life, enthusiasm and adventure seeking attitude, Becky jumped right on board to help out when I ran my initial Challenge Chum ideas past her! Becky worked tirelessly in the first few years to help me set up the site, build and shape the functions of the website and help me out with all the bug testing we had to do before we launched the site. Becky is the ultimate go getter in life and is now living out in Vancouver working for TED Talks and volunteers in her spare time as the Race Director of the Richmond Olympic Parkrun in between skiing, SUPing, trail running, ice lake marathon running and a crazy amount of weekly micro-adventures thrown in for good measure!
Ryan is currently based in Sydney NSW and works as National Advertising Manager for an Australian Mountain Bike Magazine. Ryan is gifted in sport and loves getting out in the great outdoors too. When he’s not working hard in the office he can be found catching the surf near his home in Sydney, playing beach volleyball or out climbing on the local sea cliffs. Ryan came on board to help and support the development of Challenge Chum last year and has been integral in helping to develop the new UK focus of the website.
Mollie is the ultimate inspiration, having just competed in her first ever Triathlon in August 2015, three years later she was selected to compete for the GB age group team in Ibiza last year! Mollie also has a super busy job travelling the world as a global marketing manager for Facebook but when she’s not in the office or travelling the globe she can be found braving the elements in summer and winter swimming in her local outdoor pool, running marathons and competing in Ironman70.3 (which she’s qualified for the World Champs this year!) Mollie loves the ethos of Challenge Chum and has come on board this year to help with the marketing and social media side of the site.
Neil has been integral to the development of the Challenge Chum website over the past few years. In return for a few beers now and again, Neil has worked his ass off to help support with the website development, bug fixes and general questions that regularly crop up around improving Challenge Chum and the general functions of the site. Neil is a total legend and I am personally so grateful for the work he has put in, all because he loves what we’re doing and wants to help out, what a hero!