Alison and Sue share their Incredible Arctic Experience!

By taking on the Arctic Challenge, I wanted to give something back! I liked the idea of joining a group of like-minded people to go on an adventure and raise much needed funds at the same time.

“I love a challenge and had been thinking about travelling to the Arctic for some time. Then I saw an advert for Walk the Walk’s Arctic Challenge on Facebook and decided to go for it!

I was diagnosed with breast cancer myself three years ago and when I was going through my treatment, I really appreciated the support from various cancer charities including Maggie’s (who I know are supported by Walk the Walk). I also benefitted from recent research - much of which has also been funded by Walk the Walk.

By taking on the Arctic Challenge, I wanted to give something back! I liked the idea of joining a group of like-minded people to go on an adventure and raise much needed funds at the same time. And I managed to persuade Sue, my wonderful friend of 40 years, to join the team too, so that was even better.

The training was quite straightforward for me. I am an avid hillwalker and live in the Lake District, so I do long walks a couple of times a week at least, and swim regularly. I added in the recommended Pilates, which was great, and started using walking poles a lot to build up upper body strength. But it was lovely having the motivation of the training programme to keep me going over winter. I think the programme was well planned, and if you hadn't done much before, you'd be fine for completing the challenge if you just follow it.

In terms of fundraising, I mostly did 'win-win' events so people were getting something for their money. I'm slightly reticent about just asking for donations, although many family and friends were incredibly generous. So, I organised a series of second hand events. The first two were at my house - Second Hand September and Second Hand January. It was “Bring and Buy” - clothes, outdoor kit, shoes and books. I supplied tea and cakes! They became quite social occasions with people enjoying meeting up and sitting around chatting. They each raised £300-£400, and I did have a third one planned for April, but then Covid19 happened!

I had a great time taking part in the Arctic Challenge itself. It wasn’t just a physical challenge – we developed other skills like learning to look after yourself and each other in a harsh, but beautiful environment. My highlights were experiencing such a vast beautiful expanse of Arctic wilderness, seeing millions of stars at night, the camaraderie of the days and the lovely conversations by candlelight over a meal in the huts, uninterrupted by technology! 

I was much more emotional at the finishing line than I expected, hugs with my best friend Sue of 40 years, who did the challenge to support me and what I'd been through, hugs with the lovely team, and very tearful hugs with another member of our team who had been through breast cancer treatment. It brought it home to me how lucky I was to be able to take part in the challenge, and at the same time raise money for such an excellent and personal cause.” - Alison

Alison's friend of 40 years joined too!

“My friend Ali had already asked me twice to join her on the Arctic Challenge. When she asked me for the third time, I finally said yes! I must admit that when she told me about it, it sounded like a rather mad marathon, backcountry skiing in the Arctic, of all places!

I knew Walk the Walk, having walked the Half Moon at The MoonWalk London back in 2008. I decided the Arctic Challenge must be doable with the right training and equipment, but I never realised how life changing it would be. Just the training alone made me push myself but the challenge made me dig deep.

I not only learnt how to backcountry ski (getting up is hard), but I learnt about preparation; to pack carefully chosen small amounts for the mountains; don't wear sun cream, it freezes on your face; don't take your two pairs of gloves off for too long, you risk frost bite; take hot water otherwise it freezes, and above all, look after each other.

The 2-day challenge was a wondrous pleasure in glorious sun and stunning snow covered hills; skiing 50 minutes then stop 10 minutes to eat, drink and wee in the snow, repeat. Get to the next hut before sun down. At night the magical glow of candle light with hot Lingonberry juice and home cooked reindeer stew; the ritual of washing in a Swedish sauna (nowhere else to wash) and the huskies asleep by their sleighs outside our window. Even venturing out in minus 27 to walk 50 metres through deep snow to use the loo was a magical experience of starry skies and gentle Aurora Borealis glow. The camaraderie of the group and all the amazing guides will remain with me forever. 

There was the additional excitement of seeing moose, reindeer and an eagle; of sleeping in the Ice hotel; skidoo rides and sleigh rides made it possibly the most memorable trip of my life. 

For my fundraising, I sent out emails and posted on Whatsapp groups to let everyone know what the challenge was for and what it entailed. I contacted friends and family including my husband's extended Dutch family spread around the world, who encouraged each other to donate in order to get me over the fundraising finish line. I put up posters in places of work and gave talks to patients and to my Quaker Meeting, handing out slips of paper with my fundraising page address on it. I put collection tins in reception areas and in shops with their permission. 

Many people appeared impressed by the Arctic setting and marathon distance on skis and were very generous!

Well done Polla and the team from Walk the Walk. Thank you Ali for asking me. To all the women (and Andy) on the challenge... My friends, I salute you!” - Sue

Interested in joining our 2021 Arctic Challenge... Register your Interest now and we will be in very touch soon with launch details!



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