‘Grueling 16 hour Peak District trek left my legs like jelly’

Maria Gordon pictured on the summit of Kinder Scout during her Trekfest challenge in the Peak District. Images supplied.
Maria Gordon pictured on the summit of Kinder Scout during her Trekfest challenge in the Peak District. Images supplied.

The steep inclines of the Peak District were no match for this mother-of-three - who was determined to tackle the tough 31-mile task ahead.

Fuelled by just three hours sleep in a cold tent the night before, RAF wife Maria Gordon marched on for 16 hours, covering 50km to complete a challenge known as Trekfest.

RAF Digby Station Commander, Wg Cdr Rich Paine, receives a cheque from Mrs Maria Gordon on behalf of the RAF benevolent Fund.

RAF Digby Station Commander, Wg Cdr Rich Paine, receives a cheque from Mrs Maria Gordon on behalf of the RAF benevolent Fund.

She did all this to raise cash for the RAF Benevolent Fund - in her father’s memory.

Despite Maria’s initial confidence, the trek proved to be tough from the start, and saw her having to overcome several peaks, two of the highest being Kinder Scout and Jacob’s Ladder.

“It was grueling,” said Maria. “After we climbed the two highest peaks my legs were like jelly and I had blisters all over, but we still had to travel across numerous fields and through pitch-black woodland. There were others that gave up at this point, but I think the thought of letting down all of my supporters who had kindly donated kept me going.”

After 16 hours of steep inclines, rambling fields, uneven dirt tracks and dark woodland, Maria finally stepped over the finishing line just before 11pm.

Maria Gordon has raised a total of �15,000 for cancer and RAF charities since 2012.

Maria Gordon has raised a total of �15,000 for cancer and RAF charities since 2012.

“It was such a relief to make it to the end,” said Maria who had to forego a free massage back at camp to drive straight home so she could take her son to rugby the next morning.

“I was out the house at 8.30am the next day - and walking around the rugby pitch in Sleaford like John Wayne,” she laughed.

Trekfest marked a trio of events that Maria has completed in 2018 to raise funds for the RAF Benevolent Fund, following two 10k runs earlier this year. These have raised a combined £1,520 in memory of her father Graham Handley, a former RAF aircraft technician who passed away in 2012 due to cancer.

Since her father’s death, Maria has taken on numerous physical challenges, raising a total of £15,000 for cancer charities and the RAF. These have included a climb over the Great Wall of China, ascending the Andes to Macchu Piccu in Peru, scaling the O2 Arena in London and various long-distance runs. Last month, the Standard featured a story about a sponsored skydive Maria completed for the RAF 100 Appeal - despite being afraid of heights.

Her sights are now set on the Himalays and tackling Mount Everest’s Base Camp next year.