Ruth’s Panama coast to coast adventure
STAC’s Ruth Muir undertook an epic challenge of doing the Pacific to the Atlantic coast of Panama. This was a total of 137miles and 24,500ft of elevation over 9 days! Ruth describes her adventure:
Jungle stage – think Hardmoors elevation, mud and camraderie, but double it. Then add in a 20kg backpack carrying everything for 5 days, Tough Mudder type obstacles (over/under trees), remove any signage and force navigation, remove the path and instead ask 4 locals to cut the way as best they can with machetes, add hanging a hammock (often on a 45deg mudslope 400m uphill from water) and cooking expedition meals in the dark and wet when you got in each day, getting up at 4am to tape macerated feet before putting back on your filthy wet clothes and take down camp/make breakfast, and cumulative dehydration/exhaustion.
Pack rafting stage – a joyous laugh and chance to enjoy the stunning scenery after being head down focussed on getting it done for the last couple of days! I’ve never rafted let alone rapids, but the water was so warm capsizing was no hardship and it seemed so tame after the jungle it was all great fun.
Would I recommend it? If you want to really test yourself yes, but if you want an adventure holiday probably not. It’s the toughest of their events, and I think most allow for more of the experience we had on the run and rafting stages – physical challenge but balanced by relaxed evenings and good food. I think there will be changes for next year in reality, I’m not sure they can sustain that % of people failing to complete an event you pay a lot of money for … but you can’t change the jungle so we’ll see, maybe they’ll change the information/selection/preparation so more people are physically better prepared for it.
Why did I do it? It took me a while to process this, we all had our reasons. Other than a midCovid crisis (my words!) or midlife crisis (my husband’s words!) I realised I’d lived the highs, lows, laughter, tears and challenge of this 100% as me “Ruth” – not as a wife/mum/GP/Medical Director. I’m back to being all of those again now with a refreshed and renewed sense of self underneath which I needed after the last few years. Hopefully I’ve inspired my kids to seek out adventure and push their limits as they grow up, and it did all of them good to be without me for 2 weeks!