Paul’s Memories

Posted on August 3rd, 2008 at 17:43 by Paul

I’ve encouraged everyone to write their memories of the day, sadly I’ve been so busy since the trailwalker weekend I’ve not had a chance, so here goes….

Pre-walk

Friday was a normal working day for me. We normally have a pub lunch on Friday, I took the opportunity to “carb up” with some pasta. In fact, whenever anyone questioned why I was stuffing my face, I would reply “leave me alone, I’m carbing up!”.

After leaving the office, we loaded up the car with all our gear, and had a long drive down to a Travelodge near the start point. We arrived too late to pre-register, so after a little more carbing up (a team chinese takeaway), we took took the last sleep we’d be getting for a while…

Registration 7:30am

We arrived on site and went through the registration process. It took us an hour to register, get our kit checked by the Gurkhas and be issued with a wristband containing an indentification chip for each checkpoint.

As we made final preparations by the car, we heard the countdown for the start begin, and the Gurkha bagpipes began playing! The challenge we’d be planning all year was about to start!

Start – 8:30am

We got the start line a few moments after the main crowd had set off. After hurried Banzaigoodbyes to our support crew, we were away. Pete had supplied us all with kamikaze headbands which drew smiles from the crowds waving everyone off.  The walk to the first checkpoint was very busy with walkers, and we had to walk a slower pace than we were used to.

After an hour people were a little more spaced out and we found our pace picking up.

10:15am – Checkpoint 1

Despite the slow start, we reached the first checkpoint well ahead of our schedule. We had previously arranged not to meet our support crew there, since we didn’t feel we’d need anything. The walking had been easy, the weather kind, and after 15 minutes rest we continued.

It wasn’t long before we hit the first proper climb – a short but steep ascent to Beacon Hill. Had a short breather at the top, but the rest of the section was relative easy, with some woodland providing welcome shade from the sun which was starting to get warm.

It wasn’t long before we got our first experience of being met by our support crew…

1:12pm – Checkpoint 2

After four hours walking we were ready for a little pampering from our support crew, and they didn’t disappoint. On arrival four chairs were ready and a table laden with goodies – Sarah and Jo made sure our water containers were replenished and plied us with energy giving food!

I was carrying an iPod with powered speakers, and we fired it up. Groove Armada’s “Superstylin'” filled the air and there was a party atmosphere. It was great to see our crew, we all felt fine and raring to continue.

team photoWith the tunes still pumping, we said goodbye to Sarah and Jo, and set off to checkpoint 3. After a few hundred yards, Alex remarked how good the PA system at the checkpoint was, as she could still clearly hear the music. Bless her.

A problem was brewing though. The sun was getting hotter, and I wasn’t drinking as much as I should have been. We’d all been checking how hydrated we were, and I was aware I needed to take on more water. I thought I had been drinking frequently, but I was in for a surprise at the next checkpoint…

3:00pm – Checkpoint 3

By now, checkpoints were starting to become a welcome sight. At this one we were doubly pleased, as our 3rd support crew member, Andy, had arrived early. He was supposed to be covering the team from midnight, but was too excited to miss the daytime stages!

Cream TeaSarah and Jo had laid on a cream tea, and it was clotted cream, jam and scones all round. While we tucked in, Sarah pulled the drinking bladder from my backpack – it was almost full.

I was just as shocked as everyone. Though I felt fine, this meant I was almost certainly going to experience some symptoms of dehydration. I took on as much water as possible and we continued…

I had been walking without poles until this point, as I hadn’t really got on with them in training. As I’d been slow on ascents, I took poles with me after this stage and used them almost constantly.

Somehow, I just clicked with them. On the flat, I could ease the pressure on my feet, climbing was faster and descents more stable. Over time, I found another benefit – using the poles seemed to correct my posture and I never got any backache or shoulder aches – something which was common in training after 8 hours walking.

5:30pm – Checkpoint 4

Again, it was great to see the support crew!I had stayed pretty focused on drinking and this seemed to be paying off. I had a few cramps in my calves as we sat down for a rest at the checkpoint, but Andy came to the rescue – he’s a trained sports physio, our very own Mr Miyagi (wax on! wax off!) and he soon had me feeling good as new.

Though I though I’d arrested any serious dehydration, I didn’t feel hungry. That’s one symptom, so I forced down some pasta and a banana. I think it was here that Alex gave me a dioralyte rehydration solution, which was vile!

My legs were starting to feel like they’d had some exercise, but Dr Alex issued us all with aspirin as an anti-inflammatory and we were good to go!

We weren’t long out of that checkpoint when Peter had to stop – he could feel a blister. Out came the first aid kit and we patched him up. Peter would be picking up many more as we progressed…

Wonderful WorldThis was one of the longer stages, and as we neared checkpoint 5 the sun began setting behind us, casting long shadows Sunsetand bathing the landscape in gold. As we descended down into the village of Washington, my iPod began playing Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. I’ve often found an iPod in shuffle mode can provide the most serendipitous soundtrack, and it leant a filmic quality to the final kilometre to checkpoint 5.

Sadly it was at this point that something went wrong with the tracking web site. My phone beeped every few hundred yards with a fresh SMS message telling me it was down. I tried ringing a few developer friends to no avail, and then decided to try again once I’d reached the checkpoint.

9:00pm – Checkpoint 5, halfway there!

Dusk was setting in as we arrived at checkpoint 5, and this is where I started to find it physiologically difficult. We’d been walking for over 12 hours, and I’d struggled to maintain a balanced fluid intake. I tried to eat a cornish pastie, but could only nibble at it. I realised that I hadn’t managed to stave off dehydration.

I drank as much as I could, and ate a strange mixture of foods. Mouthfuls of whatever I could manage to swallow – some pasta, a banana, half a sandwich,  fruit cake.

It quickly got darker, and colder.

So there I am, cold, dehydrated and malnourished, trying to call up friends to fix the damn website. Eventually, salvation arrives in the form of one of my oldest friends, Harry, who got things up and running again in no time.  Not only that, he sponsored me £50 while he was at it! Pretty impressive – he does late night tech support on a weekend, and ends up paying!

Once I got off the phone, I ate a little more then it was time to don our hi-vis jackets and headtorches and begin our march into the great unknown. We’d now be walking further than any of us had done before in training!

This was the section myself and Peter had trained on 3 weeks previously, and the familiarity helped a lot.

However, I wasn’t feeling tip top – stomach was rather queasy from effects of dehydration and eating lots of different things. My legs were tired. I began to wonder whether I would make it, and I remember thinking that there was no way I would put myself through it again.

It was, however, a beautiful night. The full moon began rising in front of us, and illuminating the distant sea in silver.

Around halfway to the next checkpoint though, all the tiredness and vague nausea just fell away. In around one minute I went from focused struggling to bouncing euphoria. Everything was suddenly fine in the world! It was a great moment, I figured I’d broken through my personal “wall” and that nothing was going to stop me finishing the entire walk!

00:26am – Checkpoint 6

Sarah had left the support crew for the night stages as she would be the driver in the morning. We were met at the checkpoint by Andy and Jo who kept us supplied as usual.

I had just been wearing a fleece for the last stage, and although it was warm enough while walking, once we stopped I began to get cold quickly. The earlier euphoria wore off, and I crashed back into another low point. It took me about 20 minutes to recover to point where I was happy to continue, and I probably looked terrible. This checkpoint sticks in mind more than the others, and I think if my wife Sarah had been there, she would have pleaded with me to stop!

Once we got going again, I didn’t feel so bad, though I knew we had a sustained climb ahead, which I wasn’t looking forward to.

Before we reached that, we had a few miles on the flat, following a river before picking our way though the village of Upper Beeding. It was very peaceful and pleasant, but then came “the climb”.

I was slow on this climb back onto the top of the ridge, my left ankle was starting to ache. I didn’t worry too much about it, I’d had plenty of other aches I’d worked through. I knew that once at the top, we had a long period of flat walking and I stayed focused on that.

Once at the top, I had a bit of breather, and we continued.

Peter was having some serious blister problems and found it hard to stand around or go slowly, so he and Matt marched off at quite a pace.

Though I should have been able to match it, something was wrong. They were soon 100ft ahead and  the ache in my ankle was turning into something more painful. I was using my poles to avoid straining it, but that just made me slower.

A few hundred yards further, the pain got much worse and I had to sit down. I took my boot and sock off, there was no obvious external damage but any flexing of my ankle was painful. I figured that if I strapped it up to limit the amount of movement, I’d be OK. Out came the tubigrip and Alex helped me bind it.

It certainly helped – but my pace was slow. We had around 5km to go to the next checkpoint, a distance which should have taken us an hour.

It took 90 minutes – for a lot of that time, Matt hung back with me and had a struggle of his own: walking that slowly wasn’t easy for him! Ascents and descents were particularly bad. I couldn’t avoid flexing my ankle, and whatever damage I had done, hills were making it worse.

4:00am – Checkpoint 7

I limped into checkpoint 7 and made for the first aid tent. Their advice was to take Ibuprofen and keep my leg raised up. Determined to continue, I did that right away, though my aspirin intake meant I had to wait an hour before taking Ibuprofen.

I ate some pasta and chilli while lying down with my left left held up on a chair. I was getting excruciating cramps in both calves, but I was determined to be fixed!

We checked our timing against our plan, and were dismayed to find we were over an hour behind schedule. My speed on the flat was 2mph, much less on ascents and descents. Given the hills yet to come, it seemed unlikely my speed would get us to the finish line in less than 30 hours.

Dawn was approaching, and the rest of the team were ready. I’d been resting my ankle for around 40 mins, and had taken the Ibuprofen. I stood up to test it out.

It wasn’t good. Pain was still there. Relax, try again. Nope. Use the poles to avoid placing any weight on left foot? Better but still slow, and could I really walk another 20 miles on one leg? I figured that maybe I could – this was a one-time-only experience. There was no way I was going to try it again, so I had one shot. Right now. In other words, complete denial was going to get me through!

So I walk around a bit more, psyching myself up. But gradually, the pain becomes more apparent, and I finally admit to myself that it’s over.

It didn’t become “real” until I told the rest of team. Most would characterise me as extremely laid back, not much gets me down, but I found this difficult and upsetting. I never imagined having to drop out, and was unprepared for it.

I watched the team leave for checkpoint 8, then walked over to the race control tent inform them I was dropping out.

They cut my wristband off, and it was officially over.

12:30pm – Finish

MedalThough Alex had to stop walking at checkpoint 9, they allowed her to remain in the race and rejoin Peter and Matt for the final kilometre. It was great to see them cross the finish line, and after joining them on the finish podium, I felt much better about having dropped out.

We all sat in the sunshine and ate a hearty Gurkha curry, which was the best thing I’d eaten in ages. Thanks to late sponsorships, we found we’d raised over £3000, double our original total, which made us smile even more.

Thankyous

I can’t finish this without thanking the many people who made this possible.

  • Our fantastic support crew just did everything right. Meeting them every 2-3 hours gave us something to look forward to. Sarah, Jo and Andy, thankyou so much.
  • Thankyou Harry for fixing the tracking website late on Saturday night, you are a star.
  • Alex for ensuring our biochemistry was in tip top working order.
  • Matt for walking half his normal speed with me while I limped to checkpoint 7
  • Pete for the repartee and unexpectedly gung-ho attitude!
  • The Oxfam volunteers and the Gurkhas were fantastic on the day – cheerful and well organised.
  • To the many, many people who sent us text messages around the clock. It was great to know people were thinking of us.
  • And lastly, to everyone who sponsored us. We really appreciate it, Oxfam and The Gurkha Welfare Trust will be able to do a lot of good with £3000.

Epilogue

I’m writing this some two weeks after the event. The pain in my ankle took 5 days to go away, but I can feel that it isn’t fully healed. This is actually a relief – if the ankle recovered quickly, I would have forever wondered if I could have continued. As it is, I’m pretty sure that if I carried on, I’d have dropped out at checkpoint 8 with a more serious injury.

I also had an enormous friction blister underneath my right big toenail. It was black and had raised the entire nail up several millimetres. It was so painful that the Wednesday after the walk I went into A&E to have it looked at. They drilled a hole in the nail to release the pressure, which was nice. They said the whole toenail will drop off in a month or so, but it will grow back!

The million dollar question is of course “will I do it again”. Despite the seriously low points, it was an incredible experience. If I am injury free when Trailwalker 2009 registration opens in November, I’ll do it.

Who’s with me? Come on!

Alex’s experience of 100K

Posted on July 31st, 2008 at 23:09 by Alex

The day started early, full of anticipation and excitement. We were assigned our electronic tags and at 10K intervals had to be scanned and meet our support crew. The South Downs provided beautiful scenery and the first 12 hours of walking went smoothly enough with brief rest stops to refuel with food and drink, lovingly provided to us by our amazing support crew. Each rest stop they cheered us on and provided words of encouragement. The support from family and friends via text messages was amazing.  Watching the messages coming through on the Alexwebsite, knowing that our progress was being tracked made us feel as  if all of our supporters were somehow there with us. It was hot and staying hydrated was our main priority (especially due to the large number of people already in the first aid tent).

After 12 hours of walking we had completed 50K (31m) and were generally feeling optimistic about completing our goal.  The effects of the walk were starting to take hold; muscles were aching and our feet were starting to show signs of blistering. We left our support crew to continue our walk as the sun was setting across the South Downs. Tiredness was creeping  in but the sunset was so beautiful, we comforted ourselves with the thought of a nice cup of tea at the next rest point. Around midnight we sat down to change into night clothing, massage our aching muscles and bandage our blisters. Leaving the warmth of the camp was tough. We had walked 60K (37m) by this point and physically our bodies were telling us it was time to relax, crack open a beer and rest for the night. This was our black box. None of us had ever walked further than this before. We were going into the unknown.

Hiking at night is an eerie but beautiful experience.  The moon was full, removing the need for head torches.  We would occasionally bump into other teams but for the most part it was just the four of us. We settled into an amicable silence and adjusted to the different scenery which night brings. We had four hours of walking ahead of us and the tiredness was setting in. I had anticipated hitting a mental wall at this point and sure enough it came. We could see the next rest stop ahead of us but every hill we climbed seemed to bring more hills between us and a warm meal. At this point, Paul, our amazing team leader, was showing signs of fatigue. Most likely due to all the late nights he had been working so hard on planning the event and setting up the live tracker on the internet.  Suddenly he commented on a pain in his ankle and before long he was limping. We bandaged his ankle as best we could and continued. He was in a lot of pain but soldiered on uncomplaining. Pete began to develop signs of hypoglycaemia (a condition in which blood sugar levels are low) and reaching the next camp was of critical importance. Supporting the team took my mind off the knee pain I was beginning to feel and we reached our 70K (44m) camp at about 4am.

By now, we had all hit our wall. Paul was badly injured and he knew he couldn’t complete the walk. His decision to stop walking may have been the sensible option but was still heart wrenchingly difficult for him. We felt his pain and respected his brave decision. At this point our appetites had waned and we had to force ourselves to eat and drink. Having done it in the past, I knew that I also was carrying an injury; my knee ligaments were torn and I wondered if I was going to make it? Pete was suffering from severe blisters. Leaving camp brought the pain back to our legs and made starting again tough. The beautiful sunrise did little to boost our flagging morale and we all felt the loss of Paul. Thankfully text messages and phone calls were still pouring in and on we went.  It was only 7K (4m) to the next rest stop but tackling the hills were painful. Every step was beginning to hurt. Even Matt, the strongest of the team in terms of experience and endurance, was beginning to feel the pain.  We made it to the next camp and I honestly had tears in my eyes as I hugged our support crew.

We felt so close to finishing and yet still had 24K (15m) to go. We stopped only briefly and set out for another four hours of walking.  Our pace was slow. Such pain was difficult to describe. We began to see more people as everybody’s pace slowed. Many were at the side of the trail, nursing injuries and crying at the frustration of knowing they were so close but shattered by the realisation they were not going to make it. Every foot step sent reverberations of pain through our bodies. We soldiered on.  At this point I have to give full respect to my team. Throughout their pain Matt and Pete showed considerable stamina. Pete, despite terrible foot pain was able to keep up a fast pace. My knee injuries were now slowing down the team. I could no longer walk downhill without considerable effort and every step brought tears to my eyes and waves of nausea. Matt never left my side and inched his way down the hills next to me.  It was the longest four hours of my life. By the time we reached camp at 87K (55m) we had been walking non-stop for 25 hours.  We did our calculations and realised we could make our target of thirty hours. But not with me in the team.

Despite this, Matt and Pete, filled with a renewed sense of purpose, continued. There was no check point now, just the end in sight. With a sad heart I went to officially withdraw from the race. I tried to console myself with completing 87K but I felt I had let the team and the sponsors down. I limped to the official’s tent and explained my injury and that I intended to stand down for the sake of the team. They weren’t ready to let me bow out and it was decided I should avoid the final hill and join the team for the walk of glory into Brighton Race Course. The support crew rallied round and drove me to meet the team. Matt and Pete completed the last stage of the journey in amazing time,showing their incedible tenacity and we limped the last part together up the race course to be met with the most amazing cheering as we crossed the finish line. We joined Paul and the support crew to celebrate our success. We had done it in 28 hours.

Alex medalTo push yourself beyond your boundaries is always an amazing experience but rarely can you do it alone. Paul was an amazing team leader, without whom we would never have had this experience.  Pete, despite considerable foot pain, was an inspiration in his stamina and determination. Matt never wavered once, demonstrating his endurance and strength of character. Jo, Sarah and Andy were our muses. Without their support we could never have completed this challenge. And finally our friends and family who worked so hard to raise sponsorship and provide encouragement when it was needed most. We raised over £3000 for charity. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  We did it together.

Matt’s experience of 100k

Posted on July 21st, 2008 at 16:18 by Matt

Wow, we made it!

I’d like to start out by saying a BIG thank you to our support crew comprised of Jo, Sarah and Andy, there was no ‘four king hell’ of a way that I would have been able to do this without them.  I’d also like to thank Paul for coming up with the idea and to all of the team mates for putting in the hard work to get this done.

Before the event, I was both excited and nervous to what was ahead.  I knew I could do it, or at least, I thought I knew.  We went through our supplies together and we received am electronic wristband for swiping in at each checkpoint.  Then we were off!  The first few checkpoints went by quite quickly in my opinion, that or the later checkpoints are marked with pain and emotion.  We listened to music, came up with silly lists of ‘top ten actresses’ or ‘who would be in your ‘celebrity family’, anything to pass the time and make things fun.

By the mid-point people were hurting a bit, but everyone tried to stay optimistic and kept pushing on.  The first 2/3rds of the trip went well for me however, Paul strained a ligament in his ankle between checkpoints 6&7.  On the slow trip back up the hill to checkpoint 7, I could feel the morale of the team drop considerably and morale is all you have in a challenge like this.

For me, checkpoint 7 was the toughest checkpoint of the trek.  Paul needed to rest his ankle and take some anti-inflammatorys, it was cold and dark, our muscles were cramping, Pete’s feet were badly blistered and Alex’s knees had had enough.  My main focus was on Paul and his ankle and it was very emotional for me (and him of course) when I had to tell him that there was no way that he would make our remaining 20 mile journey on a sprained ankle, especially in our allotted time.  Pete was starting to doubt himself as well and I was getting worried that everyone was falling to pieces.  Peter, Alex and I said our good-byes to Paul and the support crew and headed towards #8 just before sunrise.

#8 was a quick stop, refill our water, had a quick bite to eat then off to the longest leg of the challenge, and it was tiresome.  By this time, we have done approx. 46 miles and the 3.5 hour journey really got to me.  Shooting pains in my feet and legs, and just generalized pain all over.  Towards the end of leg 8, Alex’s knees were so bad on the down-climb that she needed help towards the end.

After assessing Alex’s knees at #9, we had to persuade Alex not to continue on to the 10th and final checkpoint before the finish line, she objected, but her knees were just too damaged to continue.  Pete and I regrouped at this point and made the decision to blitz the next checkpoint and head to the finish regardless of pain.  I drank a bunch of water, ate a couple cereal bars, left my overweight backpack and replaced it with Paul’s camelback and we were off with a renewed vengeance.

I was on a new high, I could sense the finish line drawing near.  We managed to make the 3.5 mile journey to #10 in an amazing time of 50 minutes considering we have already done 55 miles.  We took a small break and headed up the hill for our final approach to the finish line.  On the way, we got a phone call from Alex, the Gurkas refused to take her electronic wristband and they wanted her to finish with the team since she has already done 95% of the walk.  Pete and I met up with Alex towards the end and the three of us tiredly walk towards the finish line.

img_0024.JPGWe did it.  We met up with our support crew and Paul to receive our medals, take pictures and eat a great curry meal cooked for us by the Gurkas themselves

Would I ever do it again?  NO   I’m I glad I’ve done it?  YES

At last, I’d like to thank myself.  I found out exactly what was in the 30 mile black box (see blog: Sooooo close).  Along with those I listed, I’d like to add number 3. An overwhelming feeling of satisfaction.

It begins!

Posted on July 18th, 2008 at 17:59 by Paul

This will probably be our final full post before the walk itself, but we’re posting micro-updates as we walk.

We’ll be starting at 8:30am on Saturday, finishing sometime Sunday morning, around 11am – watch our progress and send us instant messages here!

If you want to get a feel for how other teams are doing, check out the live twitter feed – teams will be sending SMS updates to this throughout the day and night.

Thankyou to all our sponsors – we’ve far exceeded our wildest expectations, raising over £2700 at the last count.

Here we go….

60 hours to go…

Posted on July 16th, 2008 at 20:48 by Paul

Thanks to a late surge from Alex and Pete, we’ve stormed past £2000 in online donations – including offline donations we’re now at about £2260 which is way beyond what we thought we’d manage. Sincere thanks for everyone who has sponsored us, it’s really appreciated!

With 60 hours to go now I’m actually rather excited and can’t wait for it to begin. I’m feeling really fit, training has gone well and we know we can get to 30 miles without too much worry. Beyond that distance is the great unknown – but it will probably feature pain, shouting, screaming, blood, fighting, acrimony, reconciliation, cameraderie, more pain, extra screaming, and a sprint finish.

Bring it on!

Sooooo close

Posted on July 16th, 2008 at 10:02 by Matt

I’m coming to the realization that the walk is just around the corner, mainly because IT IS just around the corner!  We’ve spent months training and talking about this walk in general conversations but now that I’m packing my odds ‘n’ ends, I’m trying to fill in the gaps…  What will I REALLY need on the walk?  Will I get a blister at mile 33?  Will my knees start hurting around mile 39?  Will I make it to mile 62?  It’s a big black box really.  I’ve spent years avidly walking, hiking and climbing, something that should have prepared me for this walk long ago but I’ve never exceeded much more than 32 miles in one stretch, who needs too?  >30 miles exceeds the ‘recreational’ range.  Only 30 miles to go!
I’ve accepted 2 things in my 30 mile ‘black box’:
1.  It’s going to be painful, very painful.

2. This half is the mental game.

Mortal Terror…

Posted on July 14th, 2008 at 17:22 by Peter

5 days to go and in all honesty I’m bricking it! Every moment of my day somehow trails back to the cold fact that I will be walking 62 miles. Sleep is no refuge, as of Friday night, due to my dreams quickly sliding into a dark “walking in the air”-esque nightmare where all the walkers below me are suffering from wracks of foot and leg related pain! Everyone I talk to about sponsoring me and what I’m attempting to do keep saying “You’re crazy” which was funny at first but now frequency of the statement is wigging me out… Am I Crazy???

I’m nervous, that’s what I’m trying to convey. I have trouble staying awake for 24 hours let alone for moving for that length of time and I’m all too aware of the fact. I talk to my team-mates and they’re all shiny, happy and optimistic individuals which puts even greater stress on my brow as I’m completely the opposite! So now all I can rely on is my stupid stubborn streak to get me through the experience…*gulp*

Keep your fingers crossed for us!

5 days to go!

Posted on July 14th, 2008 at 11:53 by Paul

Final preparations underway, suddenly starting to seem real…

  • We’ve now raised over £1500 for Oxfam, still plenty of time to sponsor us though if you haven’t already!
  • I’ve put together a live tracking page – you’ll be able to see where we are and our state of mind, along with pictures of the team. You’ll also be able to send us instant messages to keep up our morale – bookmark it now and be sure to check it over the weekend.
  • We’ve got our support schedule worked out, with Sarah and Jo covering us from the start at 8:30am until midnight, when Andy will take over the nightshift for checkpoints 6,7 and 8. The last opportunity to meet your support crew is checkpoint 9, which we’ll be hitting around 7-8am the next day, where we hope to be met with bacon sandwiches!
  • Weather forecast is cloudy – which is good, though rain is forecast for midweek at the moment. Let’s hope it stays dry for the weekend.

Jo Forced to Quit Team in Wii Fit Disaster!

Posted on July 4th, 2008 at 08:12 by Paul

We’ve lost another team member to a comedy accident – Jo was so eager to place an order for the rare Wii-Fit game that she fell down the stairs did herself a mischief. Enough irony there for an Eiffely Towery :)

As she’s unable to train and unlikely to heal in time for the walk, she has to bow out. Such a shame at this late stage, but  she will be joining Sarah on our support crew! If you’re were thinking of sponsoring Jo, please still do so as she’s been training since January for this!

Thankfully, we do have a spare – our “fifth wheel” Alex is now officially on the team, and she’ll have a sponsorship page up shortly… (edit: here it is!)

Only two weeks to go now, let’s hope the team stays intact!

30 miles of training on the South Downs!

Posted on June 30th, 2008 at 08:24 by Paul

On Sunday myself and Pete walked the stage of the Trailwalker course we’ll be walking at night, from checkpoint 5 to 8 and back again. This was the first time we’d seen the course, and was our furthest training walk yet!

We started at 9am on a gloriously sunny day at checkpoint 5, which which we’ll probably hit at between 8pm and 9pm on the day.  From there we had an estimated 2.5 hr walk to checkpoint 6, which we managed even after a few stops for geocaching and a 1 mile detour after following the wrong trail.

At the checkpoint it was time for a sock change and application of the blister prevention techniques we’ve learned from previous walks!

A little way into the next stage, we passed a very inviting pub, and stopped for a sit down and a drink in the shade. Then it was onwards with a long climb back onto the hills with a very undulating but pleasant walk to checkpoint 7. Our timings were still good, we’d shaved around 50 mins from our target timings which would have us completing the course in 24 hours.

From here we had another descent and climb towards checkpoint 8, but a couple kilometres short of checkpoint 8 it was 3:30pm which meant we had to turn back in order to reach the cars before sunset – we had a 2 hour drive back home ahead of us too.

The walk back was fairly speedy over the now familiar terrain, but the final 5 miles was a challenge. Energy levels were high, legs weren’t too bad, but both us found our feet beginning to get painful.

The car was a welcome sight.

Overall though, a very successful days training. The care and attention we paid our feet paid off, with few serious blisters. The climbs were fine, but some of the longer descents were hard on the feet.

Only 3 weeks to go, but I think we’re ready!