Monday, 30 June 2014

London to Brighton Trek

Sometimes in life, you fail. When I began the London to Brighton trek on the 21st (feels like forever ago now) I knew I was physically prepared but I came to learn that day that I wasn't entirely mentally prepared. I don't think the thought properly sank in that I was attempting to walk 100km!

So naive

With weather that brought joy to the country that day, filled me and my fellow trekkers with dread. It's pretty damn hot for 8am isn't it? And where are all the clouds? Never have I seen a sky so blue! Thoughts filled my head of my friends tanning themselves in a park somewhere while I was facing dehydration, heat stroke and blisters. It's all for a good cause though so off we trotted.


10 miles in I got my first blister. I walked on. 20 miles in I visited the first aid tent. I was surrounded my people having their entire foot bandaged up. I got a sheep plaster. I walked on.

At checkpoint 4 around 9pm, 47km in, my feet were covered in blisters. I visited the first aid tent again, this time to join the bandage crew and got both my feet almost covered in gauze. I hobbled on in a fair bit of pain. At this stage I was determined to get to the end, no matter how long it took. Topher led the way into the dark forest and we hobbled on with our head torches. This is when things changed. The terrain got rocky and the woods started to slope up. I had completely forgotten about my fear of the dark as I couldn't feel anything else but the rocks agitating my blistered feet. That was bloody painful. I slowed down. We reached the half way point and still carried on. I was close to tears but didn't cry - I wouldn't let myself. That last kilometere to checkpoint 5, felt like it went on forever.

I really didn't want to quit but I knew that I had to. Topher told me it was ok and that he wouldn't go on without me. We reached checkpoint 5, just under 54km at about 11/12pm (I'm quite hazy on the exact timing). We had walked aprox 33miles in 15 hours. I visited the first aid tent a final time and got the remainder of my feet bandaged up.


We were then driven to checkpoint 6 along with some other people who had to drop out and got some hot food in our bellies. Checkpoint 6 was 12km further and it was like a war zone. We got out of the van and there was a girl being loaded onto a crash trolley as she was in shock and later another girl collapsed at the table next to us when we were eating. Topher overheard one of the first aid crew saying that they wished that some people hadn't pushed themselves so hard. They turned their minor injuries into worse ones. That made me feel relieved that I had dropped out before I had done any further damage to myself. I have a huge respect for those people (both a mix of fitter and less fit than myself) who carried on after that point.

After the food, we were taken to Brighton and found to our horror that the finish line was at the top of a massive hill. Even bigger respect to those who finished now. I think that would have killed me! We were led into the race track building where there we're blow up mattresses and food waiting for us. I just stuck with the mattress - I wasn't hungry at all at that point.


Part of me felt like a failure to have only gotten half way - that I'd let my sponsors down. But it turns out that only half of the 900 people who began the challenge finished it. The other half dropped out like I did, all along the route, before and after me. Besides, it's the big picture you've got to look at. Topher and I have raised money for a charity that we both care a lot about and we walked further than we've ever walked before by just over 10 miles so it was quite an achievement. This time last year, we killed ourselves walking 8 miles when we were heavier so I'm really proud of the two of us.


Besides, there's always next year!

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