We set out to walk 50km – it ended up being 30, but before we focus on the missing 20km, let’s look at the kms we did! The day started out bad – the worst night’s sleep I have had for some time, slightly upside down in a tent on a slope with a ground mat that was as comfortable as marbles (I probably should have got a thicker one than my 13 year old daughter’s) – but then we had breakfast, and set out as a team.
Personally, I thought it would be easy. Walking is easy, right? The weather was great, team spirits were high and off we went. 1km marker, done. 3km, great. 8km? This is when it started taking effect. As a team of five, we did some buddying up, two going ahead and two trailing behind. There was some see-sawing of sorts and it wasn’t until we got to a steep 1km incline at the 14-15km marker that we really started to struggle.
Break stops were at 8 and 16km – the second one being at a pub which boosted our spirits, but it probably wasn’t wise having the beer! Then off again. I can honestly say the last 10, 5, 3km (can’t decide which) was the hardest. No, it was the last 1km that seemed more like 2 (I swear they lied at marker 29), especially as we could see the finish line. But the route was taking us in the opposite direction. Team members were struggling; I just wanted to finish, and after ten hours of walking, that slightly sloped marble rack to sleep on actually sounded appealing.
Well, we finished, crossing the line as a team of five all together. Each one of us had our own challenges – except Kristina who, after this, I think is a little bit of a machine! – and we settled to the evening with some recovery, relaxation, and an awesome band who played nu-rock until 11pm in the open tent bar. The sleep went better on night two but the next morning? ‘Tight muscles’ is an understatement. Trying to get dressed in a tent half your height and walking across a field to showers in the rain were also a particular highlight. Then came the discussion. Some were struggling. I was worried about being able to drive if blisters that were now evident from day one took effect if I walked another 20km. Being stranded in a field just outside Brighton wouldn’t be all bad would it? But as a team, we knew not all of us would make the second day. At breakfast the decision was made – again as a team – we would not do the full 50km. We had our medals as these were given for completing day one, what’s the harm? Personal achievement (or failure if you think of the glass as half empty) was a major sticking point. We all wanted to do the full distance, so we came to an agreement. Next year, we’ll do it again, and we’ll prep a bit more (maybe longer than two weeks?). If we had done the full 50km this year, where could we improve? I am trying to find a silver lining I know, but it wouldn’t be called the DofE Challenge if it wasn’t challenging! And what about the fundraising? Oh yes, we managed to raise £1,260 (current total) for the DofE Charity, which was also the highest total raised per person as a group than any other corporate team that attended – there were over 1,000 volunteers! Now if that’s not an achievement…
– David Gregory
Sara Shah said, “Being the oldest of the group and achieving this challenge, I would say, proved that age is just a number! The team kept me going, especially when my new hiking boots destroyed my feet and the team came to the rescue with a walking stick made from a tree branch and footwear that was two sizes bigger – but such a welcome relief! The team’s love and support helped me cross the finish line with these lovely people!”
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