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Team Six and the Madness of London 2 Brighton 2013

I had met 5 wonderful women with whom I will always have so many wonderful shared memories. Priceless. Totally amazing the whole adventure. And would I recommend it? ABSOLUTELY! Do not give it another thought – just sign up! Do the training, get the right equipment and be mentally positive. Team WtW were without a doubt the best supported, the best prepared, the best equipped and the most determined that they would get to the other end!

My biggest concern before the challenge was who would I end up walking with but if push came to shove I was mentally prepared to walk on my own.  I needn’t have worried as by 12.5km Team Six had discovered each other;  Liz Hamilton, Irena, Helen Jolliffe, Amanda Hayes, Jackie Barker and me! We talked our way over the whole 100k and formed a bond that will last a lifetime.

Highpoints:

  • The WtW team ogggeee ogggeee oggeeeing us at checkpoints!!!  No other charity supported their team  the way we were!
  • Our crew – Nick (my husband), my best friend Jackie Lilley and her husband Nigel who made it to every checkpoint except one as Nick was worried that if he didn’t get a couple of hours sleep then he wouldn’t be able to drive me home!  Their presence and hugs and smiles and words of encouragement made all the difference to the whole team.  Nick acquired a ‘Brighton this way’ sign by the first check point and it followed us around!  At the first checkpoint he had it folded in two so that it just read ‘Brighton’!    Apparently another walker didn’t see the funny side and told him to ‘F**k off’!
  • Children and Texts: I have  3 sons and 1 daughter.  One son (Fred) is not the best communicator in the world but two weeks ago he did the London Moonwalk with his girlfriend Louise and with no training!  Aged 24 they are both fit and really if your 50 year old mother can do it then how hard can it be?  The experience did change him though and he obviously now has an appreciation of how tough these challenges are as he texted me every 2 hours both night and day to give me encouragement.  I was so moved by this.  Some examples of the texts are: ‘Keep it going Lucy – you nutter!’  and ‘Go Lucy! You da man! ‘  and when I asked him to lend me his feet ”You don’t need mine, your feet are on it Lucy!  Muchos admiration!  Keep it up!’.  Amazing, emotional and never to be forgotten.  My daughter Rosie also texted me except her texts each time reduced me to tears.  At the start she wrote ‘Just think of Taff and Jean (friends – one who has died of cancer and one who has terminal cancer) and why you are doing this when you are feeling low!  If you can help one person like them, all the pain will be worth it!  you will be amazing xxxxxx’. I just couldn’t have asked for better cheer leaders and I couldn’t have let them down by failing.
  • Food: – so much free food!!!  But why oh why did I not feel like eating it most of the time!  I didn’t pick up a single Pick ‘n’ Mix from the huge stand at 25km!
  • Scenery: – the first 50Km were really stunning from rolling green fields to the most gorgeous bluebell clad woods.  We couldn’t have been luckier with the weather – lovely sunshine but not too hot and a clear night with a full moon.
  • Stiles: – I have no idea how many but maybe 80-100 were crossed!  Some were built for giants which is interesting as your legs are getting tired!  Most stiles were greeted by someone saying ‘not another f**king stile!’    My nickname was ‘Lucy nostiles Rickman’ as being a country lass I tried to find ways around rather than queuing to get over – so through barbed wire, over ditches, vaulting the gates or sometimes just opening them as it didn’t seem to occur to others that they might not be locked!
  • Night time and mud:-   walking along windy footpaths in dense woodland in the depths of the night with nothing but a head torch is a surreal experience!  The paths were rooted, muddy, slippery and you literally had to cling to trees to stop yourself sliding down into the mud.   At times I literally felt like Tarzan!   The highlight was the stretch that we thought was similar to the Florida Everglades and had a crocodile appeared I would not have been surprised.  There was a big sign saying Flood – Diversion except there was no diversion.  Just an extremely muddy track, great big tree roots and lots of slime!  A bottle neck formed as it was very slow and then Jackie Barker managed to lose her shoe into the mud!  Poor Jackie had not only to retrieve the shoe but then attempt to put it back on whilst clinging to a tree on a slippery ledge!  She managed it, walked on 5 strides and then went ‘arse over tit’ straight into the mud!  Funnily enough she did not seem to think it was funny at the time and the language was very blue…..   However later when her sense of humour returned it was cause of many a giggle!
  • The fallen tree: Yet another stile in the dark but immediately after it was a fallen tree.  Not a small fallen tree, a sodding great enormous one with no alternative route around it!  I am 5’3″ and had great difficulty getting a leg up on top of it and it was really wide so hard to straddle!  It really did feel  like this was turning into more of an outward bound course rather than a long walk!
  • The Pick Up!:  At some point in the dark and on another single file track of trees and mud I realised that I had a man behind me.  Turned out to be Lee (28).  We adopted him quickly and he became number ‘7’ and a little while later adopted his two mates – Andy and John? (22 and 28).    In the dark of course they could not see the ages of the 6 women who had ‘pulled’ them!  We ‘toyed’ with them for a while before we ‘out- walked’ them.  We saw them again at breakfast at 80km but didn’t see them again.  I do hope they managed to finish!  Just slightly satisfying that we were aged between 38 and 50-something and we were out walking them!

The lows:

  • Hills:- This one is personal to me and not something anyone else had a real problem with  but HILLS F**KING HILLS!!!!  I have exercise induced asthma and the one thing I can’t do is HILLS!! I would never have believed that between London and Brighton there were so many!!  The girls were amazing as each time we got to a hill one of them would drop back and walk and talk me up!
  • The final 20km:- this is where the mood started to change.  Blisters were hurting, legs were tired and we were all starting to feel the effects of lack of sleep.  When we left the 80km stop I really struggled with the need to fall asleep!    Had I fallen on to the grass at this point I think I would still be there snoring now!   I believe that this was the moment that Liz started singing/acting out YMCA  but unfortunately they were head then so I didn’t witness this masterpiece!
  • The Final Stop at 88km:- Liz shocked us all totally by announcing that she had decided to retire and had decided many miles before that this is where here adventure would end.  We were all in a state of shock and ready to move on so didn’t have time to try and talk her out of it as her mind seemed really made up.  If only she had talked to us earlier when she first made this decision then I am sure we would have talked her out of it.  She was content with her amazing achievement of having done over 2 marathons.  It was just not the same from that point on and having to leave her behind.  We were now faced with the giant South Downs hill and I knew due to my asthma I would be slow.  Jackie bless her stayed with me and thankfully the other 3 pressed on.
  • The Final 3 miles: OK this bit was hell!  By now it was like walking on glass.  The tracks were rough and every time your foot rocked on a stone it was as if someone was cutting into your foot.  It was at this point that I got a final text from  daughter Rosie (20 year old penniless student)  ‘You have walked 59!  What are 3 more!  Remember why you signed up for this!  Everyone on facebook is cheering you on! Just added a bit more to your fund because what you are doing is brilliant! xxxxx  Well that was the end of that – I cried the whole of those last 3 miles! I also looked up and saw Nick, Jackie and Nigel waving at us from the end of the track – they were just always there when we needed them.

 AND FINALLY:

I must admit that when Jackie and I  turned onto the race track at Brighton the finish looked 100km away!  I told Jackie that I would actually find it easier to crawl.  ‘No lady, you’re going to walk with your head held high’ was her reply!  We got there and before we crossed the line we hugged all the WtW staff and I sobbed!  We had done it – we had walked 100km in 25 hours.   I had met 5 wonderful women with whom I will always have so many wonderful shared memories.  Priceless.  Totally amazing the whole adventure.  And would I recommend it?  ABSOLUTELY!  Do not give it another thought – just sign up!  Do the training, get the right equipment and be mentally positive.  Team WtW were without a doubt the best supported, the best prepared, the best equipped and the most determined that they would get to  the other end!

>>>Learn more about the London 2 Brighton Challenge


From Guy:

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