2020 – What A Year! By Anita Gardham

I know what you are thinking, another article about COVID. I am sure everyone who is reading this has been touched by COVID in some way, but I want to focus more on how no matter what obstacles life throws at us, we will not let it stop us!

If you have read my other articles, you will know that I am the person at IFP who always goes on about healthy eating and exercise, so why change?

How I Compromised

I rediscovered my love for running again about a year ago and decided to join my local running club, meeting up with fellow runners once a week for club runs. Then lockdown came along, and with that, you were only allowed to exercise once a day by yourself. Did we let that stop us? Of course not! Cyber runs were organised where you can still run as part of a team, but virtually. Each week, different challenges were created, and you were assigned to different teams. Although you weren’t physically running with another person, you didn’t feel alone as you were communicating via messenger and sending each other encouragement. This enabled me to run with other members of the club I had never spoke to before, never mind ran with!

When we could meet up in groups of six, the friendships we had formed virtually carried on in person. Each Friday, a group of us got together for a run, followed by a well-earned glass of fizz. Great friendships were formed on these ‘Prosecco Fridays’ (yes, I do allow myself a drink and, technically, we are still exercising but we are rewarding ourselves with Prosecco afterwards!).


As we had so much in common, we started to make plans! In September we went to Wales for the week and, along with lots of walking and some running (and maybe a bit of drinking), we climbed Snowdon. WOW, what a day that was! The views were spectacular, and it certainly whet our appetite for hiking and climbing more mountains!

Next, we decided to have a couple of days in the Lakes to tackle Scafell Pike and, as we had travelled all that way, we thought we may as well try climbing Old Man Coniston too. The weather was not on our side that day, and we only got halfway up ‘Old Man’ before we had to turn back, but this didn’t deter us.

We got up the next day full of enthusiasm and set off to climb Scafell Pike. I will say, at this point we were fully equipped. We had a compass, map, walking stick, the works! It wasn’t until we parked up that we turned to each other and said, ‘so who can use a compass then?’. Again, the weather wasn’t great, and it certainly challenged us. We were only about halfway up, it was wet, windy and visibility was poor (I will say there were plenty of other people on the mountain, so we weren’t the only mad ones!) when we came across an older lady coming down. As she was climbing alone, she didn’t feel safe due to the conditions, so we asked her to join us. We all carried on together and what an achievement it was finally finding the top through all the mist! Maybe we will try Ben Nevis next… But I think I will save that one for 2021.

Exam Pass

There was one thing I was happy that ‘Lockdown’ prevented, and that was sitting my exam. What an excuse! Better than any I could come up with myself… but do you know what? When life throws obstacles at you, you can let it win and be defeated, or you can stand up to it, carry on the best you can and come out the other side. With this in mind, I arranged to sit my exam at home, with an invigilator watching via webcam, and I’m so glad I did. I only went and passed!

2020 hasn’t been the easiest of years, but maybe if it had been ‘normal’, I may not have made new friendships and achieved the things I have this year. Who knows what 2021 will have in store?