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The London 2 Brighton Challenge 2013 – The Bra Girls Adventure

We held our hands up high, hearing the WTW team singing we crossed the finish line with huge smiles on our faces!!!! We vowed to bin our trainers at the finish line. Over the next few days with blisters and tired bodies we found ourselves emotional, crying at every little thing and pinching ourselves in disbelief we had walked 100k.

After months of trying hard to stick to the WTW training plan, buying several different pairs of trial shoes and after a few walks which resulted in blisters we decided to go back to our trusty old trainers.  In true British fashion we were continually checking and talking about the weather we booked our travel lodge and set off for London on the Friday evening.

After a long nervous journey we arrived in London we encouraged each other to have a good meal and headed to our room to get our heads down for an early night.  Sitting in the room we found ourselves in the same frame of mind, questioning ‘Who’s idea was this?’  doubting whether we would actually achieve this challenge but knowing we would never give up and our passion for WTW who make such an impact to so many people.  People think because we have completed so many different challenges that we are “Professionals!!!” but we see ourselves as “NORMAL!!!” working mums and every event is so different both mentally and physically challenging. 

We arrived at Richmond Park to beautiful sunshine which after the very wet cold weather the night before was such a relief!  Registration was quick and we thought to ourselves, we could have had an extra half hour in bed!!! We stood around talking to old WTW friends and meeting new ones, along with some welcoming hugs from the WTW team. 

After a warm up with Mr Motivator (didn’t even realise he was still around and wearing the same leggings from 20 yrs ago!!) we set off in high spirits knowing we would not stop til tomorrow morning.  Just keep walking like ‘Forest Gump!’  With our thoughts of what a friend said to us “Keep eating, drinking and moving forward – you will complete!”  We walked at a good pace meeting new people and listening to inspirational stories seemed to make the Km’s fly by.  We passed beautiful canal boats, amazing wildlife and a few annoying gnats. Before we knew it we had arrived at our first rest stop.  The food was plentiful and looked yummy, plenty of drinks, toilets, blister station and a great time to re-group with familiar friends.  It was just a quick stop before hitting the road/fields/lanes again.  After more wonderful scenery, great walkers and our other walking buddy being hit by a very large bird splat on her arm – which we expressed was ‘Goodluck’ (Always have the wet wipes to hand!)the time seemed to fly and we were then greeted by some fabulous singing and hugs from the WTW team which we couldn’t wait to share the bird poo story with….

At this rest stop we reached for our sandwiches which were sadly very soggy but luckily our roadies had fresh supplies in the car.  The choice of cakes here were amazing alongside crisps and fruit bars, we sat for a little while before heading off.

Our tactics was to set ourselves small goals, focusing on getting to half way, we continued the challenge of rough terrain, slopes, stiles, narrow routes, sticky mud but our main focus was getting our blisters dressed, a good meal and time to concentrate our minds on walking through the night.  The sheer relief of seeing the 50K marker gave Julie the energy to do a little pole dancing!!! For the next 6k to the main rest stop we could hear the compare calling people in which spurred us on as we knew it was not far and we were looking forward to seeing our roadie’s again.  We couldn’t believe our eyes as the WTW team were there again willing us along. 

As Julia sat in the blister centre watching people crying as they had their feet dressed and families offering words of encouragement we headed to grab some much needed hot food. We tried not to stop long as we were starting to feel the cold so our roadies brought all our layers and we piled on the clothes and the most important WTW Wooly hat, gloves and buff then set off in the dusk. 

As we got walking this was the first time we really felt alone.  The darkness came down and the head torches went on as we started to hit the woods, we were sure we could hear wild animals but luckily as we turned around we met Barry and Andy and they weren’t wild!!! But also not capable of protecting us either!!!  This was the toughest part of the challenge, pitch black, climbing stiles and fallen trees, Julie’s trainer getting stuck in the mud, biting cold and small single paths but we linked arms to support each other wherever possible.  Our thoughts were with any walker that might have been alone during this part of the walk.  After walking very slowly for 4 hours we had a very brief stop at the rest point to be told by a marshal that we had several more forests to tackle. 

We knew once it was light our journey would be easier so with this in mind we focused our next target on the sun rising and a hot drink – ‘Just follow those pink arrows and pink ribbons which clearly marked the way as we hadn’t taken a map reading course plus we only briefly looked over the route which we feel in hindsight was a blessing in disguise.  Having been aware of the challenges ahead we feel could have made this more difficult.  The breakfast stop at 81k was a welcome relief as we knew the sun was not long from rising and we finally felt we could achieve this challenge.  Warm bacon, sausage and egg rolls went down a treat along with a hot drink to warm us through.  This set us up for the final part of the route. Feeling cold we tried hard to march to warm up but felt every step with burning feet and blisters along with several aches, pains and heavy legs.  As the sun started to rise we started to feel very tired and without control, our eyelids started to close and we struggled to stay awake.

We grabbed each other’s hands and some top Mars bar crispy cake (Made by Julie – get in touch via Facebook or Twitter for the recipe) and plodded on.  Lots of people had talked about the hills at the end of the route and we really hoped the end of the challenge would be kind but as we stood in front of a mountain, yes not a hill a mountain!!! We joked “I bet we are climbing over that” and before we knew it with a lot of huffing and puffing we’d reached the top.

To see amazing views and the breeze on our faces, at this point we had hoped to see the sea.  At 90k we found some new energy and spotted some old friends as Barry and Andy who walked along with us for a short while appeared again.  It was a huge relief as tears rolled down our faces we saw the race course and forgot to text our roadies to say we were nearly home and dry.  As we approached the race course the grass was so soft and kind to our feet and we still cannot believe from nowhere our legs just took off. 

We held our hands up high, hearing the WTW team singing we crossed the finish line with huge smiles on our faces!!!!  We vowed to bin our trainers at the finish line.  Over the next few days with blisters and tired bodies we found ourselves emotional, crying at every little thing and pinching ourselves in disbelief we had walked 100k.

OUR TOP TIPS….

  • Everyone must have a good head torch
  • Always have spare socks on you
  • Keep eating little and often
  • Talking to new people makes the time fly
  • Listen to your body
  • Hook up with a walking Buddy especially through the night
  • Take lots of photos
  • Julie’s Mars bar crispy cakes/Matchsticks!!!
  • Get friends and family to text/tweet or facebook as it is great support
  • Most of all enjoy it…

Our final words to Nina and Guy were “We’re just sticking to marathons from now on!!!” But where’s the challenge in that…….

The Bra Girls

Julie and Julia

>>>Learn more about the London 2 Brighton Challenge

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