By Sam Sheriff
Some challenges are a lot tougher than you think they will be. But because they’re super tough, they end up being the most rewarding.
Back in 2010 we were raising money to build a new memorial garden at 45 Commando to give the lads, family and friends a place to reflect and remember. Everyone was getting involved, doing what they could to raise money.
I wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before, but also that was a fitting tribute to the Royal Marines. As a physical training instructor climbing ropes was a big part of my life, as it’s such a great exercise that tests every part of the body.
I decided on an endurance test rather than speed, and couldn’t find anyone that had set a maximum rope climb, so I had to set a distance myself. At the time they had just built the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world at just over 2,700ft. I rounded that up and thought I’d try and climb 3,000 metres.
On paper it didn’t sound that bad. All I would have to do is go 100 times up a 30-ft rope. Sounds simple, right? Well, just try it.
The day came and I got through the first few climbs with no problems. I paced myself, taking a little walk to the end of the gym and marking off another climb. Lads would keep coming into the gym and cheering me on, which really helped.
But as the day went on I really started to get seriously fatigued. What I hadn’t figured out was it’s not just climbing up 3,000 feet, you have to climb down too. When I got to about my 90th climb I started to seize up and I just thought: “This is it, my body is telling me I’m done.”
But pushing through when you don’t think you can go on is at the core of what we do. At that point I shook myself off, got back on the rope and started climbing again.
By the time I got to the 100th climb, the whole unit was down, we had the Wigan Warriors in doing pre-season training, the atmosphere was electric and lads were going crazy. Suddenly I wasn’t tired and I flew up the rope like it was my first climb, full of adrenaline. It was such an incredible feeling.
The next day I was a bit sore, but not too bad. The garden got built, thanks to contributions from all over and it is a wonderful space for everyone to spend time reflecting and remembering.
As for the climb, I’m not sure I’d ever repeat the exercise, but I’m very glad I did it. Very tough, but most definitely worth it.