Lucy takes on London 2 Brighton 2021!

I realised that a 100km event needed serious commitment and training, as well as early starts for my training walks!

Gynette on the left and Lucy on the right

"Here’s the story of how I ending up taking on ultra-marathon challenges, like London 2 Brighton!

When I was in my early twenties I was (eventually) diagnosed with M.E., which displayed itself (in me) with severe leg and back spasms. Back then, on a good day I could just about manage 20 minutes’ maximum of any sort of exercise.

I slowly began my healing process and my levels of fitness improved, although at that time, power walking wasn’t on my agenda. Fast forward a few years to 2006 and a friend asked me if I would like sign up with her for the Full Moon (26.2 miles) at The MoonWalk London. At the time, my only other form of exercise was swimming, I was up for a challenge and the answer was yes! It was going to be a one-off event for me and I had no idea as I walked over the start line what a difference Walk the Walk and power walking would make to my life.

For the next 3 years, I entered The MoonWalk alone, loving the training, the me-time it gave me and seeing my fitness level improve. However, I was lazy once The MoonWalk was over and started looking at other, sometimes much longer events. In 2010, I walked the Nijmegen Marches for Walk the Walk – four marathons in four days. I was slowly coming to realise I could power walk quite well and wondered if I could ever do an “Ultra” marathon.

In 2013, I took the leap and walked my first London 2 Brighton (100km or 62 miles) for Great Ormond Street Hospital, which supported my youngest child Fraser, when he had life changing brain surgery as a toddler. I realised that the event needed serious commitment and training, as well as early starts for my training walks. My 40 miler one hot Saturday morning was SO hard! My aim for my first London 2 Brighton was 24 hours, I completed it, with one tiny blister, in 21 hours with constant texts and support from special friends and hubby at every rest stop. Twenty years after my M.E. diagnosis I became an ultra-marathoner!

I have now done more than twenty 100km events, the majority for Walk the Walk - a charity which has given me so much support, encouragement and friendship over the years, especially after my own sister was diagnosed with breast cancer herself and subsequently passed away. I did one 100k just two days after she died - 100k is a good time for thinking, smiling at happy memories and tears...

My training programme now includes classes to support, maintain and aid my fitness. I attend Boot Camp, Yoga, Pilates, PiYo (a blend of Pilates and Yoga), Zumba and do as much walking as I can manage!

The training plan from Walk the Walk is fantastic, my big hint is to do a 40 miler, I usually do this on the Easter weekend and learn to eat in the middle of training. I normally do 15 miles, then have coffee and Hot Cross Buns, then another 15 miles and I have scrambled eggs on toast. Then at the end of the 40 miles, bubbles in a hot bubble bath! Monthly personal challenges, sometimes with bling as a reward, have helped, and walking 5 or 6 miles with the dog before work is now my norm.

Fundraising has become harder - I try to think outside the box and have found people are more generous when they receive something in return. My homemade fudge at Christmas is one of my biggest fundraisers, although 80 boxes for a corporate order in two weeks at the end of November was a major arm workout! Fingers crossed, with one or two wedding orders in the pipeline, my fundraising will be kept busy!

And so to the event itself. After 15 months of virtual events and training within 45 minutes of home (which was testing and at times difficult) I will admit to HUGE butterflies and stomach knots in the weeks leading up to London 2 Brighton 2021. It’s now one of my favourite events on the calendar, having completed it five times since 2013, where I met and became good friends with the fabulous Gynette Janney.

Meeting Gynette at 6.40am on the Saturday was emotional to say the least and we managed to see two other friends also walking for Walk the Walk - a priceless few moments. Temperatures were taken, numbers scanned and we were off! We’d already decided that a personal best wasn't on the agenda - the focus of the day was 100km of catch up chatter, friendship, support AND the finish line! 

Rest stops were well organised, mostly in the open, with lots of sanitizers, friendly event crew and my amazing hubby (our personal support crew) who provided us with ice cold water - sometimes it is the little things which matter most! Clean socks and trainers are great to have after a slippy encounter with mud and my bumbag holds my “go to” snacks, which are tried and tested during training. Plus, there is loads of food at the rest stops.

It was strange not seeing the Walk the Walk crew en route, like we do in usual years, but phone calls from Nina, Ailsa and Jo were so, so welcome and it was great to touch base with the team and find out how everyone else was doing.

Slipping and sliding in the mud, the extra wet May was very evident on many levels! The 67 - 80k forest section was very tricky and our pace dropped dramatically, we both 'lost 'our sun glasses on low hanging undergrowth and they required washing after landing in the mud!

Having done the event before, we subconsciously looked for landmarks. Ditchling Beacon (Gynette and I have our own name for this!) was completed with me deciding my hands and shins needed to join my feet with a spectacular fall at 94km! I was bruised and had gravel rash, but the last 6k would have been even tougher without Gynette checking I was ok and who knew Rowntree Drumsticks were fab for shock! 

In previous years, once Ditchling Beacon was completed the final kilometres were relatively flat, but a reroute for 2021 meant this was actually very, very hilly and it was a tad confusing approaching the finish line from a different angle. But approach and cross it we did, at 1am on the Sunday morning, with great bling for the collection, a glass of bubbles and a hug from hubby. Priceless, we had finished!

After a sleep and breakfast on the beach, Gynette, Andy and I returned to Brighton racecourse to welcome our friends over the line. We had a great couple of hours, watching others finish and having a long overdue catch up, showing the amazing friendships born through our love of walking and Walk the Walk. 

Will Gynette and I be back? Well the 2022 date is in our diaries, and the hotels are booked! It’s an amazing, if tough event, but crossing the start and finish line after so long, walking with others, especially my team mate and doing an actual event made the 100km an emotional, fantastic, memorable weekend. And I LOVE Brighton!"

Thank you Lucy for sharing your story. Join the Walk the Walk team for the London 2 Brighton Challenge 2021! Don't miss out... sign up now! 

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