Pat and Emma round up their 2019 Country Walking Challenge

"I've loved writing this blog, and I have loved my year. I can't possibly list everyone who has been there and helped, but you know who you are!" - Emma

As a charity partner for Country Walking Magazine's #walk1000miles in 2019 challenge, we've been speaking to Walkers who are getting involved! In 2019, Pat Hipkiss and Emma Thomas not only signed up for many events between them to raise money for breast cancer charity Walk the Walk – they also both completed Country Walking Magazine’s #walk1000miles challenge! For Pat in particular, the 1000 mile challenge went right to the wire. Here’s how they both did it!

You can read Pat and Emma's previous blogs.


I signed up for my 2019 1,000 mile challenge right at the end of December 2018. Having been diagnosed with breast cancer three months earlier, I needed to focus on a long term goal over the coming 12 months. I decided that my mileage would include all dog walks, training and event mileage. But in autumn 2019, after a challenging period of treatment, illness and injury, I decided not to give up, but to change the goalposts! From then on, I tracked all mileage from my daily steps. Even doing this would be a challenge but I decided to give it a go.

November was the month of “nothing special” happening… I managed another 113 miles so my year-to-date total was 817 by the end of the month. That left 183 to do in December!!!!

The month started and I hadn’t given up, but I needed to change my ways… 13,000 steps a day… just day to day walking was not going to cut it. I had my medal still in its envelope… I would get there and legitimately wear the medal. If I managed to get to 1,000 miles it would be the biggest month’s total this year. I guess this is what this challenge is about… getting out and about… I knew I might still be walking on 31st December.

I identified a walking group that walks a several times a week “Adventure Geek”– whilst I would struggle with the evening walks I know I could manage the weekend ones. On Saturday 7th December I swallowed my brave pill and joined the group… I knew absolutely no-one!! Well, 7.7 extremely muddy miles later, I had walked around the fields surrounding Blisworth in Northamptonshire and got to know a great walking group… full of like-minded people… yes despite the mud we were still smiling and laughing at the end. RESULT!

A week later I was walking with the group again – this time at Oakham, Rutland and around the Hambleton Peninsular on Rutland Water. A stunning day – this is what walking is about. Who knew there is a hidden gem in Oakham – Oakham Castle – England’s most complete Norman Great Hall!! It has over 230 ornate horseshoes donated by Royalty and Nobility – the oldest one donated by Edward IV in 1470. I had been to Oakham several times but never knew this building existed.


So there I was on 29th December with just 7 miles to go to achieve 1,000 miles. How on earth did I manage that?? What a great way to achieve my 1,000 miles – a walk around Virginia Water in Surrey with 2 of my best Walk the Walk friends – Jane Hyde and Julie Homewood. If I had written this at the start of the 2019, I couldn’t have thought of a better way of finishing the year!! 7 miles of walking and loads and loads of laughter later – and I had done it!!!! 1,000 miles completed.

Looking back what a year!!! I started with having radiotherapy… 6 weeks later I walked the Big Half in London… in May I walked my final MoonWalk London… then in July it was the pinnacle of my year – I managed to walk and complete Nijmegen Marches… 100 miles in 4 days!! By September I power walked the Great North Run in my fastest time for a couple of year. Then by changing the way I measured my mileage I managed to achieve 1,000 MILES!!!

We only get one life and I will continue to challenge myself and get everything from it that I can. I am so proud of myself – I have had peaks and lows this year, but I have pulled through them… onwards to 2020… another 1,000 miles of walking to support breast cancer charity Walk the WalkSpring CaminoMoonWalk London VolunteeringNijmegen… Great Wall of China… Disney Half Marathon.

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing the blog this year… it has been a privilege to walk for Walk the Walk. On top of all my challenges, I have walked 1,000 miles and I have also raised over £3,000 for the charity. I also have another £2,000 towards next year’s challenges.

A final massive thank you to the Walk the Walk team. Without you and my Walk the Walk family 2019 would have been so hard… you have made every step easier xx


WOW. What a year.  As I sit here, wishing I hadn't eaten quite so much at Christmas, and complimenting myself on a few miles this morning, I can look back on what I achieved over 2019, a key part of which was walking (and occasionally what I like to call running) pretty much 1050 miles. I am so pleased I was persuaded to sign up to Walk 1000 miles!

Rewind to the beginning of the year, and the main challenge I and several of my great friends I have met through doing events for Walk the Walk had signed up to - the 100k Thames Path Challenge. From having sworn blind there was no way I had 100k continuous walking in me, something possessed me to see if in fact I had. And I knew that if I couldn't do it with this fabulous bunch of people either with me or supporting me, then I never would. Completing that challenge has got to be one of the toughest things I have ever done, and I am so, so pleased I did it!

Looking back now and counting my event medals for the year, I totted up the official events I had taken part in – The Winter Walk (20K), London Winter 10K, Big Half (21K), Hampton Court Palace Half (21K), London Landmarks Half (21K), Wimbledon Common Half (21K), MoonWalk London (42K) and the full Thames Path Challenge (100K).

Give or take, converted into miles, that's 160 miles of official challenge. For the rest of my challenge (and to get my "Proclaimers" 500 miles and my coveted 1000 miles medal), I decided I would log not only all my training walks (and there were A LOT of those over the summer), but also every time that I walked when I didn't need to (when I could have got in the car or on public transport, or just not gone out at all). Fortunately, it worked out just right!

After the intensity of August and early September, my focus for the rest of the year was to finish my 1000 miles, which I did mainly in the course of a few nice walks along my lovely stretch of the Thames just for fun (I hope my husband thought it was fun....), finding a forgotten distance marker from September on the way!


I spent some quality time supporting various friends remotely from my sofa as they power walked the Berlin and New York Marathons for Walk the Walk, and did incredible things trekking in Patagonia. And we had a lovely Christmas get-together for a few of us Thames Path Challenge conquerors - a conversation, sitting down! Who knew we could do it!

For next year, so far, I've signed up to the Winter Walk, Winter 10K, Big Half and London Landmarks Half... then come May my 10th MoonWalk London - I am hoping many friends will be joining to help me celebrate that milestone - and in June my 3rd "Edinbra" MoonWalk. Through all of these events, I’ll be raising money for breast cancer charity Walk the Walk.

I've loved writing this blog, and I have loved my year. I can't possibly list everyone who has been there and helped, but you know who you are!

I can't finish though without the most massive of shout-outs to Elizabeth, my co-queen of planning and organising, who was there with me for pretty much everything; Anne, Rachel and Tricia, the core TPC training team; Andy for being Andy (no more needed, everyone knows Andy); and my fabulous husband Mike who never once whinged at the time I was out walking, and more than anything came to get me in the freezing fog at 5am at the end of the TPC! And, of course, the amazing charity that is Walk the Walk, who started me off on all this in 2010, and for whom I have raised over £1,200 in 2019 alone.

To find out more about Country Walking Magazine's #walk1000miles in 2020 challenge click here!

Feeling inspired?

Join The MoonWalk London, Register your Interest for The MoonWalk Scotland or take a look at the other Walk the Walk Challenges on offer... sign up now and start Walking regularly, all whilst raising money for vital breast cancer causes!


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