Yesterday I took part in The louise Smalley Walk or as I called it the LSW 2. The Louise Smalley Walk is a 40 mile walk in Whitwell in Derbyshire, it is done in the memory of a little girl called Louise, she died young. They named the walk after her. This year I was both on walking and then I was checkpoint. This year the walk was for Neuro-care and it was different this year. Normally it would either be a round robin where it would start at one place and you’d have 8 checkpoints between the start and the end which would be the same place the Royal Oak in Whitwell. Or they get mini-buses to drop you off in the middle of the peak district or at a location and you use a route description to get you to the finish line again which is the Royal Oak. Yesterday however it was the shape of a flower with one base which was the community centre. So everything was looped back to the community centre. Due to the restrictions we had different start times based on our pace and past timings. Ruth and I were on the 4am start.
The day before we went shopping and got ourselves ready with an early night. The next day we woke up at 2:30am to get ourselves awake. We got our feet blister plastered up and we vaselined up to avoid rubbing. This was the first year we did it and we were living in Whitwell and it was amazing to get up and walk down. It exactly the reason why I moved back to Whitwell. Anyway we got down to the centre and we waited outside and got chatting to every single person in our start group. We were going to sixes and I knew 5 out of the 6 of them so I was excited all round to get started. I started to feel the adrenaline build up which was good and bad because if it went bad I would end up throwing up in a bush fortunately that didn’t happen. We all signed in and we went outside to set off. Before we set off we did the usual 1 minute silence we usually have for Louise Smalley and for absent friends. It felt like a moment in time as if time stood still even though it was a minute and medical teams were still talking, it felt like such a moment.
It was a lovely morning, it wasn’t raining or it wasn’t too sunny. I had been worrying it was going to be the same heat as the Summer Walk in London. So we set off and I knew from the moment we started I knew something wasn’t right. To start of with my legs weren’t moving fast enough, it was like one of those nightmares where you try to run and you can’t run you can only walk. But obviously I wasn’t trying to run. Local people will know Mallet and Chisel hill is a monster of hill, only a mad man would run up it. So, I decided early on I decided I was going to pull out at checkpoint 1. I wasn’t keeping to pace and I was struggling so early on. I blame the fact that I have gained a few pounds over the few lockdowns and I haven’t been training as much. I was walking behind the group and one of the more seasoned walkers Howard walked with me while Ruth went off ahead. We were overtaken by the fast walkers in the group behind. I found this interesting because we mainly see them at the start so to see them walking/running was interesting. We did the first section and then I transferred onto checkpoint support. This walk was different to the Summer Walk (video linked below) I didn’t feel like I had failed because I had got out of bed and got the start line. I would have failed if I had of not even tried to start and 10 miles is a lot considering the lack of practise. I was worried about letting Ruth down but she understood. She continued for the rest of the walk.
After getting changed, a bacon sandwich, a couple of cups of coffee and sitting under a blanket for half an hour I started to do checkpoint stuff. I was doing a lot of cheering and a lot whooping because my legs ached from the mileage I did. I did a little bit of drink making. I mainly chilled though and did some cheering. Ruth walked with Howard and she would get back into the checkpoint and would have water and food before going off again. I am glad that I could support her through the challenge on the checkpoint obviously I wished I was walking but I didn’t want to cause more grief by causing other people to walk slowly with me. Being on checkpoint and not moving much I did a lot of people watching and I found it fascinating. The checkpoint layout this year was four Gazebos with food, drinks and other miscellaneous items with chairs in a circle around the areas for the participants to sit. The idea was to avoid mass gatherings so having the different stations would mean it would even out a lot more. It was interesting seeing all the people come in and do normal walk activities like using talc or having a chat. It was nice to be back to normal or have a sense of normality. It was also nice to be apart of a community again and not have to worry about lockdown madness. The first walkers to finish finished at around 4pm which I thought was interesting. It was a very different year with the one checkpoint. It was hard to tell sometimes if they were finishing the walk or just walking through. I loved the community feeling of it all. Ruth and Howard were the last walkers in and they got in at about 11:30 and they were fantastic.
So, two walks in the space of a month that I retired from, is it time to decide that I should give up with walking. Well absolutely not, I have decided though I am not going to do anymore organized walks this year except the Halloween walk in October but that’s a nice little 10km. Ruth will be doing Chiltern 50 in September and I am going to support either working the checkpoint or as a spectator. I am going to do some walks of my own practising the potential route for next year and due to the fact I want to be a 100% ready to Louise Smalley Walk next year I have decided to do Thames Path Challenge instead of London to Brighton because I want to be fit and ready to do the LSW. I am going to build myself back up again stamina wise and make sure I improve. I am going to get myself back to my pre-pandemic fitness.
To finish off this blog well done to all the finishers, the volunteers and the retirees. Retiring isn’t easy but it has to be done sometimes. Anyway want to see more walking content like and follow. If you have anything to say leave a comment.