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A test of endurance: Windsor man conquers Everesting challenge to become first Maritimer to complete on foot

Supporters were by Andrew Friars’ side when he completed Lap 64 of the Everesting challenge on Oct. 19. Pictured are, from left, Andrew Postma, Adam Pearce, Friars, Misty Croney and Allison Friars. CONTRIBUTED
Supporters were by Andrew Friars’ side when he completed Lap 64 of the Everesting challenge on Oct. 19. Pictured are, from left, Andrew Postma, Adam Pearce, Friars, Misty Croney and Allison Friars. - Contributed
WINDSOR, N.S. —

After a gruelling 29 hours, a Windsor man has become the fourth person in Canada to have registered for and completed the Everesting challenge on foot.

It’s an accomplishment that puts 46-year-old Andrew Friars in rare company.

But he didn’t do it for the glory. He didn’t do it for the bragging rights. He did it to help a friend in need.

Friars, who regularly runs marathons, found out his friend Adriana Bailey was diagnosed with cancer about two years ago. Last year, when he began brainstorming how he could not only lift her spirits but raise funds for cancer research, he checked out the Everesting challenge and decided it was a unique way to support his friend.

“My friend Adam Pearce had actually done it on his bike on the same road a few years ago,” said Friars.

“It's bigger in the cycling world than it is in the running world. But he had done it, I looked into it and the rules and decided it would be possible and decided to pursue it.”

Nearly 4,000 people worldwide have completed the challenge using a bicycle. Less than 100 have done so while running or walking.

Everesting, as described on the official website, is “fiendishly simple, yet brutally hard. Everesting is the most difficult climbing challenge in the world.”

The concept is simple.

Pick a hill to climb, anywhere in the world, and ride or run until you have reached the height of Mount Everest.

“You can have any amount of breaks you want, but you cannot sleep. You have to climb the vertical elevation from sea level to Everest of 8848 metres,” said Friars.

On Oct. 18, 2019, Friars accepted the challenge and, after 109 kilometres; travelling the same hill 64 times, with a gradient of 8.3 per cent, he reached the height of Everest, Nepal.

Friars likely knows every inch of pavement on that stretch of Dawson Road.

The event took 29 hours to complete.

By Lap 17, Andrew Friars had climbed the height of Mount Kosciuszko in Australia, the first of seven summits. Pictured accompanying him up the hill is Paula James. CONTRIBUTED
By Lap 17, Andrew Friars had climbed the height of Mount Kosciuszko in Australia, the first of seven summits. Pictured accompanying him up the hill is Paula James. CONTRIBUTED

“When I calculated my walking, my segments where I was going uphill, it was about 23 hours of actual physical moving time,” said Friars.

Friends took turns cheering him on, bringing him sustenance, and providing drives back down to the start of the run. He says if not for their support, he wouldn’t have been able to succeed.

“It was a mile-long hill, 140 metres in elevation and I climbed it, and then I could be driven back down. And that's the only way for me it was really possible because even descending it was like 108 kilometres total distance. So, if I had to descend it as well, it would have been, like 220 kilometres, which is just outside of my abilities,” said Friars.

Somebody stayed with Friars throughout the night to ensure a safe challenge.

At Lap 3, he had climbed the height of the Empire State Building; by Lap 6, Friars had climbed the height of the Burj Khalifa Dubai, which is the world’s tallest building.

At Lap 14, he had climbed the height of Mount Washington. Lap 17, it was the height of Mount Kosciuszko, in Australia.

Lap after lap, milestone after milestone, his friends posted to social media.

At Lap 43, he had climbed the height of Kilimanjaro, Africa — a popular destination to test one’s endurance.

By Lap 64, the final push, Friars said he was slowing down but still had some energy.

“I thought I was going to be a zombie at the end of it. I mean, I definitely was slowing down and losing energy but mentally and physically I felt pretty good,” said Friars.

The days that followed were spent resting his muscles.

“I was pretty sore, pretty tired. For a couple days I was hobbling around but thankfully there was no real damage. I had a couple of blisters, and that's about the extent of the injuries,” he said.

Friars has completed several marathons over the years and while he doesn’t describe himself as athletic, he likes to be physically active.

Adriana Bailey is undergoing treatments at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute Foundation for Stage 4 lung cancer.  CONTRIBUTED
Adriana Bailey is undergoing treatments at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute Foundation for Stage 4 lung cancer. CONTRIBUTED

ALL FOR CHARITY

The Everesting challenge not only pushed Friars’ endurance to the limit, but it helped highlight the need for more cancer research.

As running tests one’s limits, so too does battling cancer.

Friars conducted the challenge to support Bailey, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in July 2017.

After several months of unsuccessful chemotherapy, Friars said his friend, that he met while living in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, was referred to the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute Foundation in Tampa, Florida to undergo clinical trials. While her cancer persists, it’s thought the trials have helped slow its progression.

“Our initial goal was $2,000 US, which was like around $2,600 Canadian so we surpassed that,” said Friars.

His online Facebook fundraiser has brought in about $3,300 to date.

Friars said even though Nova Scotians don’t know Adriana and Christopher Bailey, they understand the battle the couple are going through and have been supportive in his quest to raise money for the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute Foundation.

“My real goal was to show them (someone cared) because they were feeling kind of discouraged, alone,” said Friars. “I just wanted to show them that people wanted to help and people would step up from all around the world, even if they didn't necessarily know them.”

He said the couple are quite thankful.

“They're really grateful for all the support people have shown,” he said.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Friars said he’d like to carry on doing an annual fundraiser for the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute Foundation while keeping Bailey’s name attached to it.

Although the monies raised don’t go to Bailey, the money goes towards clinical studies and treatments.

“Any cancer research benefits us all at the end of the day.”

Friars said he will begin planning next year’s event soon. He says he imagines it will involve walking or running. One of the leading ideas right now involves running 100 kilometres in 10 hours.

Shortly after completing the challenge, Friars spoke to a Grade 3 class about why he took on the Everesting challenge and to inspire them to find their own unique ways to give back to the community.

“For me, it just so happens that I'm good at covering long distances on foot and so I was able to take that and turn it into something to help my friends,” said Friars.

“If you're not somebody who enjoys walking uphill for 29 hours, who sees it as a challenge, it's tough. There's no question about it,” said Friars. “So, I think people, if they want to raise money for something, (they should) look at what they're good at, look for ways to turn that into a fundraising opportunity.”

Andrew Friars recently spoke about his Everesting experience to a Grade 3 class in Hants County, inspiring the students to think of ways they could give back to the community using their interests and hobbies. CONTRIBUTED
Andrew Friars recently spoke about his Everesting experience to a Grade 3 class in Hants County, inspiring the students to think of ways they could give back to the community using their interests and hobbies. CONTRIBUTED


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