London 2 Brighton 2018 with The Dales Divas

"2018 saw my sister and I’s 50th birthday (we’re twins!) and we thought we should challenge ourselves to prove we weren’t 'past it'!"

Back in 2017 my sister and I completed the first half of the London to Brighton Ultra Challenge, it was hot, my sister fell and twisted her ankle before we’d got half way around and I had stomach cramps meaning I was out of action for 4 days! Whilst my sister said she would be up for the full 100km I was decidedly unenthusiastic!

Fast forward a few months...

...and we got talking about the MoonWalk London and participating in it. 2018 saw my sister and I’s 50th birthday (we’re twins!) and we thought we should challenge ourselves to prove we weren’t “past it”! The MoonWalk was a no-brainer and soon we had a team of 9 of us prepared to train and fundraise for the event, but Denise and I talked about doing the London 2 Brighton again, and one of the teammates, Kim, felt that she would like to be challenged too, somehow we figured that the full 100km was doable and so our participation was sealed.

Training began in the Autumn...

...with walks of up to 10 miles on a weekend and 4 miles on Wednesday nights, ramping up too much longer walks as we reached the Spring, following our own version of the training plan. Kim and Denise also participated in classes, my job involves a fair bit of travel so committing to regular classes is not possible so I participated in the walking only.

The training walks took part around our hometown in all weathers...

...sunshine, rain, hail, snow, high winds, sometimes all on the same walk. We trained on hills and Dales, roads, bridleways, paths and a racehorse training ground high on the fells of Wensleydale. We enjoyed looking out for strange things which were out of place on our walks, our tally includes a chest of drawers in a hedge back, a mug and plate on a drystone wall in the middle of nowhere, a boat in the middle of a field nowhere near any water source, a strip of carpet plus various pieces of clothing. When we got onto the longer walks we made sure we rewarded ourselves with a little treat; usually a cream scone or a pint of cider!

Meanwhile, our fundraising was going well...

...we created a Facebook page for the group and posted regular updates from our training and other activities, we also used it to publicise the events we were holding to fundraise. We got some great support from our local community with sponsorship for training hoodies for the entire team, the proceeds of the Spartan 300 challenge from our local gym, a raffle and collection in our local Co-op, a Charity Clothes Swap at a local guest house, and a special loyalty day at our local department store. We also received lots of support in the form of prizes and auction lots for the Ball we decided would be our main fundraising event. The ball itself was a great success and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the evening. We raised over £10,000 from the event!

Soon though the time approached to journey South to London... complete The MoonWalk – we had a great weekend with all 9 Diva’s completing the challenge. For Denise, Kim and I, it was a great opportunity for a night-time training walk ready for our big challenge two weeks later. Because we live over 250 miles from the capital, and with a 7.30am start time we had to come down to London the day before the challenge. We joined the rest of our Walk the Walk team at the start and met the support team in person – it was lovely to put names to the faces of people we had been talking to for the last few months – it was great to see so many supporting us, and the positivity and enthusiasm of the team rubbed off on us.

Obviously, several selfies and photos were taken up to and during the warm-up and then we were off!

The initial walk along the Thames involved threading our way through the teams of rowers getting themselves sorted and onto the river, and dodging cyclists and runners, and then we were threading our way through the streets of the London suburbs. So far so good, the temperatures were high though and our speed dropped as we felt that to crack on at our normal pace wasn’t the sensible thing to do. We didn’t think about the total walk but just concentrated on getting to the next rest stop and refueling. As we approached each stop it was lovely to see the Walk the Walk Team cheering us on, it was very noticeable that they were the only Charity cheering on their team at most of the stops, and they did so with enthusiasm and warmth that gave us a boost each time.

By the time we reached the halfway stage at Tulley’s Farm...

...we were about an hour and a half slower than the previous year but we were comfortable with our pace, we fuelled up and had a change of clothing – new socks and longer trousers for the night section plus a hoody for when it got a bit cooler – that never happened, the temperature didn’t drop below 18 degrees! On the run-up to the 88km rest stop, there were tears and we reached the lowest point mentally, we had a discussion on how we didn’t think it was at all possible to fall asleep whilst walking but it appeared that we were giving it a good go! We felt like the living dead! The refueling at this stop made a huge difference to both our energy levels and our attitude, it was our saving grace and gave us the perfect start to climb the hill, however, the energy dropped away when we got to the top and that section to the last rest stop was our slowest section. When we reached the last stop we took the opportunity to massage our feet on the rungs of the seats – it was bliss!

We set off from this stop as a team and stayed that way until we reached the end...

...we were so happy to see the 100km marker and once again hear the cheers and encouragement from the Walk the Walk team. There was a stage where we wondered if we would be physically able to complete the challenge; it was mentally and physically exhausting but the combination of team camaraderie, support along the way and grim determination got us through, there was no way that after raising all that money we could let our supporters down and so we arrived at the finish after 29 hours of walking. We celebrated with an Indian takeaway, a bottle of prosecco and several gratuitous selfies posted on our Facebook page so all of our supporters could share in our achievement!

We said “never again”, but the truth is we are already debating The MoonWalk Scotland 2019!

If you're feeling inspired by The Double D's, why not join the Walk the Walk London 2 Brighton 2019 team... Entries are open now!


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