Johny Stapleton, along with friend Chris Eynon, will be climbing the three highest peaks in Wales in 24 hours just a few months after he was struck down with viral meningitis.
The Welsh Three Peaks Challenge takes in the three peaks of Wales: Snowdon in the north, Cadair Idris in mid-Wales, and Pen y Fan in the south. The challenge usually includes a total walking distance of 17 miles and an assent of 2,334 metres – all to be completed within one day.
Thirty-eight year old Johny’s Army background means he is used to tough challenges – but taking on the Three Peaks while recovering from meningitis is testing him in ways he didn’t expect.
“I know in my head what I need to do,” he said. “But I feel like an 80 year old these days.”
Johny, who lives in Carmarthenshire in Wales, first fell ill back in early November last year. At first, he had no idea what was wrong with him. But when it reached the stage that he couldn’t move or get out of bed he realised he needed help.
“My wife called NHS Direct, who thought I might have been having a stroke,” he said. “I couldn’t even speak properly because I was in so much pain.”
He was taken to A&E where, four lumbar punctures later, he was diagnosed with viral meningitis. Like so many people, this surprised him because most people associate meningitis with children and babies.
“Not enough people are aware that meningitis can affect anyone, whatever their age,” he added.
Although Johny and Chris have already started training for the 24-hour challenge – including getting a couple of “nine-milers” under their belts - he says it’s been very hard.
“I still get bad headaches,” said Johny who runs his own window-cleaning business. “I’ve currently been off work for nine weeks, and I’m still finding it hard to adjust to the after-effects and have been told that they can last a lot longer.”
Make everyone aware
As well as raising funds for Meningitis Now, Johny hopes his challenge will help raise awareness not only about meningitis generally and the need for everyone to understand it better, but also that it can strike anyone – however old they are.
“A lot of people say they can’t believe I had meningitis at my age,” he added. “Please make everyone aware so they don’t go through what I did”.
Johny and Chris’s Welsh Three Peaks challenge will take place on 17 August 2019. To support them please visit their Just Giving page.