At the start of the year I decided to walk up Mt. Fuji.
The Conqueror Virtual Challenge offers participants the chance to experience famous hiking routes around the world – from the comfort of home!
It’s no walk in the park though (well, unless you want it to be), as the challenge asks you to set a time frame, and to push yourself by running, walking, skipping, (whatever works for you), your way to the finish line. I’ve seen some people complete the challenge by reading books, and others complete it with time done playing Beat Saber. The concept is that you find the drive to do something different or difficult, usually exercise, and are motivated by an app to keep going.
I decided to walk up Mt. Fuji by wearing my FitBit on my days off. Too often my days off are ‘lazy days’, pottering around the house and garden or going for a gentle dog walk. I was strict with myself – ONLY days off work counted (as work days usually average 4-6 miles on my feet), and if I forgot my FitBit then tough luck, there was to be no guesswork. This actually worked wonders. Dog walks went from being strolls around a field to entire afternoons on Dartmoor, or stomps through the woods.
The app comes free with joining a challenge, and offers you everything you need to be supported on your journey. Milestones are met with a number of different rewards, from postcards and short articles marking standout stops along the way, to positive environmental changes like planting a tree. If planting trees isn’t your environmental goal, you can opt instead to remove plastic from the ocean.
As the app uses Google Maps, you can switch to street view anytime to see where you are in your challenge. You can also see where other participants are currently, which makes the experience feel more like a community event. The Conqueror achieves a sense of community very well, with a fiercely supportive Facebook group full of motivational stories and endless encouragement.
As if pushing yourself physically and planting trees wasn’t enough, the cost of joining a challenge also rewards you with a medal upon completion. That’s another big motivator – you only get your medal if you finish. The medals are beautifully designed, many with interactive features too. I’ve seen members of the community showcasing them in their homes. They might not have *actually* walked up a mountain, but they pushed themselves to do the miles in a way that was safe (lower risk of catching Covid), more cost-efficient, with access to hundreds of other enthusiastic individuals joining you for the ride. Of course, it will never replace the real thing, but I think it is wonderful that it offers a little bit of escapism for those not able to travel across the world at the moment. Plus, it really is just a lot of fun.
I’ve signed up to Mt. Everest next, with my exercise of choice being running and Ringfit (miles travelled, not hours played). The Conqueror also recently released a fundraising challenge to raise money for humanitarian efforts in the Ukraine – this challenge allowed participants to visit the city of Kiev and explore the streets before the destruction. The community committed wholeheartedly to this, with many people buying multiple challenge passes to give to those who couldn’t afford them.
Overall, I highly recommend trying out a Conqueror challenge. I enjoyed every minute of mine, and loved learning new facts about Mt Fuji along the way.
You can join your own Conqueror challenge here: https://www.theconqueror.events/