I was four months into the recovery of my third surgery on my left shoulder; it was time to take a closer look at the Conqueror Virtual Challenges which first tempted me in December, 2022, when I saw an ad to virtually walk the Cabot Trail. Imagine my surprise, and delight, when I learned how many trails could be walked virtually, and even more, that the challenges were legitimate! I had a sneaking suspicion that, if I was to participate in such a challenge, it wouldn't be a one-time event for me; it could become a way of life. It could even enhance my life.
When I began the task of virtually walking the 154.5 km of Chichén Itzá as my first Conqueror Challenge, I gave myself 49 days to complete it; yes, seven weeks. It would average walking 22 km per week and, given that I enjoy exploring, sightseeing and photography during my walks, the goal seemed reasonable.
I had many things flittering through my mind at the beginning - a few concerns for family and friends which were beyond my control - and a few pertaining to myself. My soul felt as though it had splinters poking at me from various depths; it was causing me varying levels of emotional pain, or what one might constitute as feeling some level of heartache.
Walking is Therapeutic
Since walking had always been therapeutic for me, with so many soulfelt splinters, I started my first walk toward the Chichén Itzá challenge on May 5. I revisited parks I had enjoyed and discovered new parks along the way. I saw several beautiful sights, witnessed a few glorious aspects of nature and documented it all through photos, some of which I've shared along with a few words on Facebook.
I had numerous conversations with various people I met along the trails, some people giving me other options for trails to explore. I've also had several conversations with people from the Conqueror Community Facebook group; I must admit it is one of my favourite groups to belong to because everyone I've encountered shows encouragement and provides varying degrees of help to other members of the group. I'm proud to say three friends came into my life during the period of the Chichén Itzá challenge, two of them being fellow Conquerors each owning various medals.
Occupying Myself on The Trails
Many people would usually be listening to some type of sound if walking, jogging or performing other types of exercise.
I will admit that, occasionally, I listened to music but I always had one ear free to know what was going on around me. Sometimes, I would listen to a voice on the other end of my phone or might even see a face for a few minutes. Often, I would listen to the sounds around me, marvelling at the sights. Always, I had my ear tuned to God. He had a habit of grabbing hold of my spirit, then capturing every ounce of my attention at random moments; those experiences turned into the highlights of any day.
Day by day, I felt fewer effects of those splinters which had pierced my soul. I felt I had been blessed with so much as I walked with, and talked to, God - sharing laughter and excitement about my discoveries. I would step on a branch of a low hanging limb or rest my arm on a branch and take a photo, or even crouch as I walked beneath the canopy of a few trees, feeling like I was hiding from those passing by on the trail.
Other times, I would be talking to God, addressing heartfelt concerns. I can't hide anything from Him so see no point in pretending things are fine if I feel something is wrong. Then there were those times I would think about my blessings - my friends and family, my hopes and dreams, the many gifts and talents God bestowed upon me - and I would be thanking Him.
Of course, there were those times when my thoughts would be jumbled, when I would think about some aspect of my life and feel confused or unsure what to do next, and I would ask for wisdom. All of these things are a routine occurrence for me, if I am to be honest. Even in the absence of people, I never feel alone. The only difference in this situation was I walked 154.5 km in a very short period of time so I had more alone time with God than usual.
Ahead of Schedule
I ended up completing the Chichén Itzá challenge in two and a half weeks instead of the intended seven. I saw my marker progress along the trail as my walking distance increased. I received various virtual postcards as I would achieve milestones, even had a tree planted on my behalf for each 20% increment I completed. I discovered a few of the local interests and, after I crossed the finish line, I received various sizes of a digital certificate and ordered my medal; I will post a photo of it when it arrives. I signed up for three additional challenges the same day I completed Chichén Itzá.
As for the virtual challenge, I could have taken as long as 18 months to complete it. If my guess was off or I fell behind, I could always update my intended timeframe but, even knowing I was ahead of schedule, I left it at seven weeks since I am my fiercest competitor. I wanted to know if I could cut my time in half; I ended up finishing the challenge in just over a third of my timeframe.
I paid just over $40 CAD to join that challenge (which included the shipping of my medal) and, though it may seem like a lot if buying multiple challenges at one time - or even buying one - I can think of so many other areas that money could be spent, which would never bring such lasting personal satisfaction, on many levels.
If these Conqueror Challenges sound interesting to you, feel free to reach out for more information. You can also sign up here using my referral code and get 10% off your first challenge. I can already say this has changed my life for the better. Actually, I can't imagine not being a part of one. I hope you enjoyed the photos I decided to share - all taken at some point within the 154.5 km I had virtually walked Chichén Itzá.
This entire virtual challenge was walked outside on various types of terrain.