We made it. We did it. Thank God. 

Kids Village Costa Rica (team in the sea)
The Start point- The Caribbean Sea

We crossed Costa Rica East to West – Caribbean coast to pacific coast. We kayaked, trekked and cycled the 275km coast to coast.

On Thursday 12th March at around 4pm, 20 sweaty, smelly & half-broken people ran into the Pacific Ocean at Manuel Antonio fully clothed. Bikes abandoned, it felt euphoric to have FINALLY finished the challenge and running onto that beach is something I will never forget. It still feels like a dream. After what we experienced the week leading up to Thursday the 12th, the beauty and warmth of the beach felt like heaven. The glass of champagne we had in that moment was the best I’ve ever drunk. The BBQ ribs I ate that night were the best I’ve ever eaten. Perspective.

Costa Rica Challenge Kids Village (backpacks on the ground)
Arriving at Camp
Costa Rica Kids Village (team in kayaks on a river)
Kayaking day 1
Costa Rica Challenge Kids Village (group of cyclists raising a fist in the air)
Day 1 cycling

My heart is full as I write this and think about the experience that the 20 of us shared. 20 relative strangers came together to take a leap of faith and tackle a new challenge to raise money for Kids Village. 20 people gave up time and money to be part of this challenge, and I, and we, as Kids Village will always be grateful for that. How could we not be?!

Raising money was and is always the focus of the challenge. So that’s what it had to be – a challenge. We had to show people how much we wanted to raise money by taking on something that was going to be difficult. In theory, we all knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, but I’m not sure any of us were fully prepared for the physical and mental test Costa Rica presented to us.

We really had to come together as a team to get everyone though, as we had a wide range of fitness abilities across the group. Personally, there is no way I would have completed the challenge without the continued support of the group. Every single day I felt physically and mentally pushed to my absolute limit. Each day, in isolation, would have been hard. But day after day getting up to do it all again was relentless. We all had our moments when we felt we couldn’t go on, but the power of being in a team and being fully supported pulled each of us through.

Costa Rica Challenge Kids Village (hikers walking up a hill)
7km uphill climb
Kids Village (image of a road sign)
A regular sight in Costa Rica!

And the CAMPING! I know some people like it, but wow that was another challenge in itself. After these long, tough days, you don’t have any home comforts to turn to- it’s a tent and a pee bottle. Yep “Pee bottles” were a hot topic of conversation- how often did you use it? Inside or outside the tent? Did you fill it? There was no way most of us were going to make the trip to the actual toilet- not when the poisonous frogs, spiders and snakes all come out at night! There were also some very interesting showers… some amazing ones built into the natural greenery and some – ice cold water sliding out of plastic pipes!

Stumble into the camp, quick brief, pack, re-pack, “dry” days clothes (or try to – NOTHING dries in the jungle. We all knew this and it made me smile as we all naively kept trying) eat, sleep & go again! And what filled the gaps in between was great conversation and some serious belly laughs.

Costa Rica Challenge Kids Village (group of tents)
Tent City

I could describe the endless hills & intense heat we battled through each day but seeing it written down doesn’t compare to the reality. Every evening we discussed and speculated what the next day would hold- “Oh, it’s less KM than yesterday”, “This section looks like it might be quite flat” and 99.9% of the time we were wrong! It was always harder. For context, one of our fittest team members (a GB Triathlete) said this challenge was the 2nd most difficult thing he’s done- the first being an Iron Man (2.4mile swim, 112 mile bike followed by a marathon- all in one day!)

Costa Rica Challenge Kids Village (team standing in the sea)
The Finish! The Pacific Ocean in Manuel Antonio

So, overall, I want to thank every single person who came on the trip and every single person that sent us lovely messages or donated. We’re still working on a final total, as money is coming in from lots of different places and countries, but I can’t wait to share it with you!

The night we finished, you would need to pay me (or Kids Village!) £1 Million to do it all again. But now, after a week of being back home, I would return in a heart beat. Memories to last a lifetime. I will never forget our first Kids Village challenge – watch this space for the next one!

Sam Fletcher – Kids Village founder x

I’m going to finish this article with a poem written by Claire Fletcher, that was shared on our final night:

There once was an ambitious man with a plan
Let’s build a village for special families … we can 
Now to raise money let’s do our best
Off to Costa Rica let’s go east to west
20 mad people to go up hills and more 
Such a big task , every muscle will be sore
There’s Carrie and Rich cyclists at heart
Rich and Andy … a bromance they’d start
Rick and Neil who pushed on through
Lots of laughs … there’s been a few
Jon and Rob, excellence it must be said
Helping and advising when your legs feel like lead
Helen and Andy both came crashing down of sorts
Carl leading his team from Away Resorts
Team USA Terri and Andy 
Doing their  bit, very handy 
Sammie and Jamie inspiring us all
All led by Wayne, Alan and Chris in case we fall! 
An amazing adventure we certainly have had, 
it’s finally over … completed … I’m sad … but also glad! 
We have raised lots of money over 50k so far 
More coming in … everyone of you … a star
Thank you so very much from the bottom of our heart
Kids Village … here we go what a fantastic start…
one last thing before I go …
Has anyone seen Andy’s boots? Thought so!!!

Kids Village Costa Rica (team standing in costa rica)
Kids Village Costa Rica (cyclists on the road)
Costa Rica Challenge Kids Village (group paddling in a stream)