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Last weekend Joy, one of our walkers, joined over two thousand others and tackled the annual Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones 100k challenge.  Starting in the Chilterns, Oxfordshire, the race followed the Ridgeway National Trail, finishing next to the 5,000 year old stone circle at Avebury.  This is a route that I am interested in walking next year, maybe in one go or else over a couple of long weekends – so watch this space!  In the meantime, here is Joy’s account of her experience:

I am the old nag who didn’t quite make it!  In fact, I’m the old nag who only made it half way but I’m very proud of that achievement. 

The Race to the Stones is an annual event inviting the brave, the determined, the downright foolish to attempt the 100k along the Ridgeway.  There are a number of options: you can run or walk the whole thing in one go; you can run or walk the thing over two days; or you can do one half only. 

More than 2,000 people gathered at the start on Saturday morning.  Most, like me, had had little sleep.  There’s something about these events that impacts on your ability to get much needed sleep before massive exertions.  Anyhow, we set off at around 8 am with the runners leading the way.  It was already pretty warm and the pollen count was very high (not so good for me).  I set off with a gang of Nordic walkers from Cornwall (Walkkernow).  I’ve met most of them at other events and they’re a really good gang.  The organisation of this event is truly fantastic.   There are pitstops every 10k or so where you can get a range of different snacks, squash, hot drinks, and, of course, water.  There is also medical assistance at each stop and much needed encouragement. 

I was going well until around 12 miles, although the heat was a bit of a challenge, when my shoulders and neck became really painful.   And really, that was the story of my journey to 50k.  Intense pain across my shoulders turned the event into one of endurance and determination.  I really wasn’t sure I would make it to 50k but was supported and encouraged by other walkers.  I felt like I was draining every resource I had to get there but I did make it and I am really really proud of that.  I went straight to the information desk at the mid-way camp and told them there was no way I would be able to do the next day.  So I need to sort out what happened with the neck and shoulders but on the very positive side, my feet, legs and bum were great.  In fact I felt a bit like Wallace in the Wrong Trousers.  The legs were going great guns but the rest of me was struggling to keep up.  I am also pleased that I haven’t been put off.  I’m still going for the Thames Path Challenge in September.  Another 100k, this time in 24 hours.  I know, barking mad.

Setting yourself a challenge like Joy’s is a great way to focus your efforts and get fit.  It does not need to be as extreme as this one – 5k and 10k races are plentiful and generally allow Nordic walking provided you start at the back!  The next Nordic walking specific challenge is in Swindon on September 6th.  You can do 5k, 10k or 20k distances – so why not put it in your diary and join us?