Walking for charity still hurts a lot!
06.06.2009 - 06.06.2009 18 °C
Saturday, 6 June, 8.20am. It’s been tipping down with rain and is now just chilly, grey and dismal. And for some reason this is terrific good news!
For a start its not raining. Next thing it’s not boiling hot. Let’s face facts, when you have 10 hours or more of hard walking ahead of you rain or sun are not going to be your priority. So the 6 of us set off in naive jubilance thinking nothing of knocking out 50km in one day. Intrepid explorers on the go!
It took us 3 hours to get through the first 3 check points and that was with a wrong turn added in so things were looking quite reasonable for our 10 hour target. And then the blisters started to kick in. Debbie had already had a problem with her shoes and had changed them but the damage had been begun. Harry’s hips and feet had been tender since check point 2 but he was holding up. Matt, Aja and Martin were all apparently fine. So we all vas'ed up the soft tender pink bits of our feet, re-socked and headed out for check points 4, then the A4 and check point 5. Still naive but less jubilant.
Sometime around check point 3 the sun had come out but fortunately the walk took everyone through lovely tree lined paths and fields for much of the hottest part of the day. The 15 other teams were well spread out and while we did walk a lot of the course with the same 3 or so groups there were also many times where we very much felt that we were on our own.
The course went from good old fen style flat land (or there abouts) to much more hilly, undulating, horse fenced and cute village dotted vistas after the A14 and for a short while we all got a second wind as we felt we were so much closer to the finish line but after another 4 hours of walking the joys and jubilation had worn down to grit and determination to just keep going until it was all over. The team was awesome (quite literally - Team Awesome) and Martin turned out to be the b**tard love child of a sherpa and a mountain goat - carrying the injured’s backpacks, ducking back to collect the stragglers then zooming past us all to be in lead encouraging us on. Matt was the pace setter extraordinaire - keeping up a pretty consistent 16.5 mins/mile for almost the whole walk. Harry, Aja, Debbie and I just plugged along encouraging those behind and pushing those in front and taking turns leading or straggling.
Finally - 11 hours after starting (7.20pm) and after 9hours and 27 minutes of walking we struggled across the finish line at a pub in Burrough Green where we were clapped and cheered by both hale and hearty non-walkers and the limping survivors of the teams who had set off before us. It was a huge feeling of relief and there was a general agreement that we'd probably never volunteer to do that again but we had not only walked a total of 300km as a team but raised nearly £2500 for the Papworth Trust (if you want to donate see www.justgiving.com/nwbrown) and also got the grossest most hideous blood blisters and strains just to prove, at work on Monday, that we hadn't been kidding when we had harassed everyone for donations.
The Suffolk/Cambridgeshire countryside really is lovely. I don't remember much of it because I was either crazed with pain or just had my head down watching every step (turns out I can stub my toe on seemingly flat sealed tarmac at a moments in-attention) but the glimpses every dozen steps or so showed that we have some of the most lovely countryside to explore just down the road. I bet it would be lovely to explore on horse back...