The Barefoot Blog

Keeping you up to date with events, new products and news from Barefoot Studio and team Nordic Walk and newest baby - Barefoot Nordic Walking Club!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

windmills





windmill pics





The Windmill Walk






It was billed as ‘Llanharan and the wind turbines’
Lead by: Karen Ingram, flankers Avril Brown and Niki Adams.
A classic circular walk of 9 miles, 15.5 Kms, along footpaths, trackways and
an ancient ridgeway with fine views. You pass Bronze Age burial chambers,
the ruins of an old church, old colliery buildings and a modern wind farm.

There was never any mention of livestock. Did you read: Great Big Hairy Bullocks amongst that anywhere? Hmmm???? No, nor me. Very shortly after climbing the first gentle hill, we lost Jake and Richard almost instantly as I think Richard had stopped to attend to Jake's bathroom needs (he's a dog, before anyone starts to wonder.)
Having reclaimed everyone, we climbed over the second of the days many vertiginously high stiles, nervously noting the quantity of large, fresh cowpats.

Heaving into view over the horizon, the 20 or 30 Very Large Bullocks clearly regarded us as Sunday's entertainment. We moved into the lower portion of the field hoping they'd get bored with us. No chance. With our bright colourful clothing, shiny poles and high pitched voices we were fair game, and as the bullocks gleefully herded down the sloping field towards our skittering figures, Paula sprang across the deeply rutted meadow like a hare and vaulted the barbed wire fence. 'Save yourselves!" I think she said, but I couldn't be sure.
The rest of us mere mortals, either made of sterner stuff, or more likely, not possessed of Paula's nimble knees and speed, squelched and stumbled towards the stile - even higher than the last, and bound by a virtual quagmire of cowshit.
"Make yourself bigger!" shouted Karen, holding her poles outstretched. She and I yelled "graaaa graaa!!!!!" in a really scarey way at the cows. They peered at us interestedly from lowered horns, scraping their front hooves on the ground in an unfriendly way.
Progress over the the head height stile was agonisingly slow, what with trying to negotiate the plop slurry first. "HURRY UP" we squeaked, bravely, as the herd wheeled away from our pitifully thin squawks, only to thunder as one back towards us, bucking and snorting, clods of earth flicking up around them.
I was just thinking that maybe I should have written a will before this walk, when over the hill, chewing on a hayseed, with bluebirds twittering around her head, strode Niki Adams.
Staring down at us all clustered in the cowpats, her head swivelled around and took in the belligerent bullocks in a single glance.
"WWWHHEEEEEAAAAAARRRROOOOGRAAAGHHHHH!!!!!!!" she yelled mightily, and ran towards them, poles out at right angles. As one, the cows turned tail, and fled back up the hill.
"HURRAY!!!" we cheered. "Our Heroine!!!!"
The cows in the next field had obviously already heard about our Super Cow Scarer and huddled together, watching us. That didn't fool Claire though, who had taken up residence behind a brick shed. "If they're facing you," she declared "that means they're going to charge!"
The remainder of the walk passed without further bovine incident, and we all felt brave enough later on to admire the colossal bull in a field with his wives and children - from safely behind the fence of course.
The views were most unexpected - I hardly imagined that I was so local. It was as if civilisation was very far away.

The windmills were everything they were billed to be. Awe inspiring and very windy. Karen and Avril told me that they'd met the farmer planting mini wind turbines which grow up to be big turbines. "And the windmills that go around slower than the others? They're the adolescents and haven't got up to full strength yet" They must think I'm stupid. Everyone knows it's the OLD ones that go slow!
Avril's walk next. Can't wait!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The PenyFan walk


So. Capt K and I have decided - PenyFan or bust, the memberships have rolled in, and the first-of-it's-kind Nordic Walking Club is born. Throwing myself with enthusiasm into it, I design a logo. Actually, I design about 20 logos all based on the same idea and bombard Karen with them, who is frantically trying to organise her stand for the imminent Grand Designs Show in London.
Over the coming weeks, e.mails zip back and forth.
Keep waking up worrying that I've missed somebody and envisaging a sad little soul abandoned with their Nordic Walking poles expecting to be collected from somewhere....
End up setting up office in the Barefoot Studio shop with my laptop, entering all the membership details, chatting to waiting customers - "no, I don't work here, but I've bought just about everything in here, so, what can I help you with?" whilst Paula tries to deal with the sudden rush on her 'quiet' day. Eventually, we pronounce ourselves happy with the preparations.
And on the day, everything goes like clockwork! Everyone appears on time, in the right place, with all the right stuff. The weather is perfect.
We gather in the car park at the foot of PenyFan, kit up, make some introductions, and whilst warming up, set a few ground rules about 'if you don't play follow the leader we won't let you play any more', and then we're off! To the toilet, mainly. But then, full of expectation, through the gate leading down to the footbridge over the stream, I mean, how much more picturesque can the start of a walk be.
It's a long, long climb, in some parts needing a fair bit of puff, and the group begins to string out. Karen and Paula and I have anticipated this, and Paula, assuming her 'sheepdog' role, drops back to encourage the slower walkers. I'm in the middle, and trying to get to the front to slow the front runners down, trip over a stone and fall flat on my face. I didn't cry though.
We re-group to take photos, admire the view, and got Avril to set the pace from the front to maintain a comfortable ascent.  I try to speak to everyone on the way and get all their names wrong, calling Diane  Michelle umpteen times.
In the lee of Corn Du, the second highest peak by a whisker, we call an elevenses break. "Elevenses?" squeaks Paula's metabolism. "It's lunchtime, surely!" So the quick snack turns into a leisurely lunch, whilst we immerse ourselves in the spectacular views. We decide at that point that Karen will take those who want to up and over Corn Du, and those who want to save their energies will come with me on the by-pass route, meeting up to go onto PenyFan together.  The temperature has dropped quite dramatically up here, and gloves and hats are needed.

Avril, who struggled a bit up the long climb, opts for the by-pass, and then is not to be out-done and makes a sudden decision to go up Corn Du.
Jubilantly photographed on the summit of PenyFan, the group surveys the National Park spread out before them, and we identify other walk options for the future, with BIG climbs.  'bring 'em on!'  says Avril.
We set a spanking pace to return from the summit, and walk some way along the horseshoe to take in another view over the reservoir.  
If the climb had spread the group, the descent proved even more of a challenge. For some of us with creaky joints, it was quite slow going, and tough on muscles unused to such a pounding.
For a group of this size, we definitely need 'top and tailers' to keep everyone together. The track is so well marked, that it was very easy for the front runners to march off, but I guess this will be curtailed by less clearly marked walks. All a learning curve.
I felt quite sad to get to the bottom. The van provided a most welcome cuppa, and we all sat on the wall, peacefully enjoying our achievements.
Our meeting at the Bear Hotel last week was well attended, with plenty of feedback, and dates set for the next 12 months. Lots of volunteers to lead walks as well, which is brilliant.
The next walk on June 22, is to be led by Karen. If you'd like to book onto the walk, contact her at karen@barefootstudio.co.uk.





Friday, May 23, 2008

A shady route through the pine trees drops gently down to the footbridge over the stream. And here we all are on the summit of PenyFan. Thanks to Richard for photo!


Claire demonstrates how to lick her kneecaps...Or is she just taking an alternative view of the landscape.......Or 'does my bum look big in this?'.......




Thursday, May 22, 2008




Our first walk, a great turnout of 18 of our 21 members. The weather couldn't have been more perfect!



Our new Club

Welcome to the newest entry for our brand new baby - the Barefoot Nordic Walking Club. Which does sound a bit like we are all hobbits with big hairy feet ...well, maybe some of us may have big hairy feet, but we will be keeping them very firmly in our nordic walking shoes, thankyou very much.
Rapidly acquiring 21 members, our inaugural walk was up PenyFan and back on Sunday 18th May 2008. Paula did raise her eyebrows when Karen and I scampered excitedly back from our meeting and announced the FIRST WALK. Hmm she said. Nothing like easing everyone into it, she said.
Her misgivings turned out to be not without foundation when she and I reccied the walk a few weeks ago. Ok, I said, maybe we just need to...tweak it a bit....make it..less steep......and shorter......?
Retiring to the Mountain Centre at Libanus, spreading the maps all over the tables with coffee and cake, we decided to use the yak trail to go up and back, thus reducing wear and tear on knees, reducing the climb severity, whilst retaining the flavour of the walk.
I still went back the following week and did a Plan B walk, which was lovely, starting at the Mountain Centre. Scribble was impressed too, but mainly with the quantity of sheep on the route...
As it turned out, my fears of howling rain, fog, snow, hailstones,tornadoes or worse, the sudden heatwave we experienced a few days before, were all dispelled when the day dawned, bright, sunny, with a nice breeze. Perfect conditions!

Stopping here- read next post for The Walk!
Sue
x

an old post - from Oct 06! but still worth a read

My Barefoot Blog
re Coppermines Walk, Coniston, 7th October 2006
(Well, not really sure if I'm doing this right -my initial excitement about creating a blog has been lost in a fug of technobabble and passwords, and I think I've managed to cross wires with Karen's blog, but NEVER MIND lets get one with it.)
Saturday was a major achievement - our first warm-up race for the Big Event- in the Lake District. A 'mere' 9.3 miler, I thought on fairly reasonable level packed hard track hurr hurr- how wrong can you be....
Al drove (brilliantly, thanks love) Dawn and I up on Friday through sheets of rain. We peered up the vertiginous (good word, that) mountains, shrouded in mist and went a bit quiet.
A texted photo from Karen, already walking part of the route with Paula, Ceri and Vic (who was RUNNING it in the race) did not dispel our apprehension. "it's......Hilly" she'd written.
It'll be fine, I said. Did that sound convincing?
Felt better after some retail therapy (although the shop keeper was such a grumpy git I'm sorry I bought anything from him) and a bit of a walk. And some pasta, And garlic bread, And just the one mrs wembley glass of wine.
We went to bed early, although Dawn entertained us into the night reading from her book, the first line of which is engraved on my mind - She was a Woman. She had no FACE -and eventually dropped off. Up at 8 am, showered and burned half a loaf of bread with the toaster set to 'defrost' instead of 1, oops, breakfasted and warmed up, walked across the campsite to the start line. A rapid readjustment of clothing - off with the waterproof legs, if it rains it's tough, and we're on the start line. I wanted to cry and laugh all at once.
We were off, and trying not to trip the couple of hundred runners behind us with our poles. Bloody hell, I thought, i can't keep this up for nearly 10 miles. We did a walking removal of jackets - which was quite nifty I thought, stuffed them into our camelbaks - me: "oh no, mines broken, I'm not getting any water out" Paula "The valve's not turned on"
Through Coniston village, and then we start to head uphill. And it keeps going, And going....I just focus, think about how amazing it is to be doing this. Less than 2 years ago I was on crutches waiting for a new hip. Paula keeps pace with me, I am relieved that she doesn't expect me to chat - I haven't enough breath for anything other than this. I look up and see Karen and Dawn striding easily uphill. Make mental note to do more quad training. And hills. Many many more hills.
My nose starts to run. I try to blow with one finger against the nostril. A stream of snot sticks to my hand. Lovely. Finally we get to the top. A marker says 2k. Or 3, or something - but it felt like longer.
Whheeee - off we go on more undulating rocky trail - I've got my second wind, feeling good, still can't keep up with the other 3, but Paula has identified my problem. Come on Shortlegs, she says, as I trot after them like a pit pony - clatter clatter pole tips on the slate hey look girls I'm nordic running!
Blow my nose and snot hits my shoes this time.
After about 8k, the serious runners begin to hurtle past us at breakneck speed. There is barely time to avoid a collision - I'm at the back and hear their breathing and yell - RUNNERS!!! so the girls can move over to the left.
Several kilometres of this and I'm starting to feel a bit fed up - can't get a rhythm, having to walk through huge puddles to get out of their way. Some are nice enough to say thank you, others just shout -out the WAY!!!!!- it's our race too, I grumble to myself.
In front, Karen and Dawn are picking off the other competitors. I stretch my (short) legs, ignore the pain in my arthritic toe and grunt onwards. Paula is like an attentive sheepdog - she's in front, beside, behind, cajoling and cheering.
Finally, the lake is in sight, and I know there's only a couple of miles to go. I don’t seem to be able to go any faster - Karen falls back to psyche me up - just think you can fall into Allan’s arms at the end, she says. Hmm, I think, he’s not going to want to kiss me with a face covered in snot.
Suddenly we are at the finish field. I see Al’s face and hear him cheer us on. There’s a watery ditch we have to leap over, and then its round the field to the finish line. It seems never-ending, and then I spot the red blow up arch, and astoundingly, about 20 feet from the finish line, I break into a trot! Where the hell did that come from? “Team, Teaam!!” yells Karen, reining me in, and we pass under the arch in a line. The commentator says something about us being the Welsh Nordic Walking Team or something and we laugh. Queuing for our commemorative tee shirts, we look at the timing and find that we’ve finished in 2 hours 32 mins. Which is weird, as that’s what I had prophesied about a week ago, it just popped into my head.
(I’ve said we will do THE BIG ONE in 14 hours 6 minutes. There. It’s in black and white.)
Lottery numbers, anyone??

Friday, April 13, 2007

We Did It!!!!

Well - we did it - and it hasn't quite sunk in yet, and I guess when I start to write it all down, it will finally be real, and I'm a little bit sad that it's all over!

Arranging to meet at 9.30am, at Barefoot for the final kit inspection, I was choked to see balloons and 'Good Luck' banners across the front gate and door. (Janine, bless her socks, had been the good fairy) Laying all our kit out on the studio floor, we hugged each other, packed and were finally on our way. Planning a leisurely drive up, with lots of stops for cappuchinos and muffins, we overshot our turnoff and had to go through Manchester, finally arriving with just about enough time to unpack and get ourselves to The Bull at Tintwistle for a 6pm private 'pasta party'. I could hardly eat! I was putty pale, my innards shook and I felt freezing cold. I didn't think I was nervous, but my body was telling me otherwise. The other three seemed as calm as ever. You're not ready for this, said my body. You're not fit enough, you had that virus you did, for AGES. You'll hold everybody up, said this nasty insistent little voice, and your hip will drop off and EVERYFINK.
A pep talk from Captain K set me back on the staight and narrow, and we returned to the hostel to assemble our trail mix for our bumbags. We sat around the table, dividing our treats - nuts, dried fruit, mini mars and broken up Nak'd bars - into 2 little resealable bags for first half snacks and second half snacks and then we all were packed off to bed early, alarms set for 4am.
With admonishments from the hostel warden to keep the noise down, we crept out into the cold dark morning at 4.30, and Al drove us to Holmbridge Village Hall for registration.
Walking past a very fat chef cooking mountains of bacon beneath a gazebo outside, we entered the hall, packed to the brim with - well, about 400 mainly very young men, a sprinkling of women - none of them nearly as old as me - all busily packing their rucksacks and stretching and eating and all seeming to know exactly what they were doing. We made our way to the registration table, where we were handed our identity tags - I was 61B - to be tied around our necks until we complete or retire from the race.
We decided to go and have breakfast and a hot drink, back at the van with Al. I have been having a protein shake for breakfast every morning for months, but, unable to plug my blender in, I had to settle for muesli. It was nice, but I'm not very good at digesting it, and I thought it was the best option at the time. To be honest, my stomach felt about the size of a thimble, just when I needed a capacious holdall!
We trotted back for our kit inspection, anxious about our shoes. The kit inspector whizzed efficiently and rapidly through all our kit, casting a brief and knowing glance at our shoes and pronouncing them 'fine'. All that worry, and there they were -'fine'. "Off you go", he said, quite kindly,checking that we weren't carrying too much. In my haste to repack, the bag containing my afternoon nibbles exploded all over the floor. "Aargh, my snacks" I whimpered, scrabbling to pick up some dried apricots before catching myself and leaving them, under the kit inspectors table, where they stuck to everyone's feet for the rest of the morning I imagine.
Time for a quick cuppa, a warm up around the church and then suddenly, it was 6.45, and we began to hang around the exit, for the OFF. Very low key, teams are started in pairs, in 2 minute intervals. No worries about adrenaline making us set off too fast - a man sat next to a big clock by the door, and said languidly, ok, teams 60 and 61, 10,9,8,7,6, right oh, off you go. And we were off! Stepping out from the Hall, Al is waiting with his cameras - "Hang on" he says, "I haven't got you all in!" "Can't wait!" we said cheerily, "See you at the next checkpoint!"
I felt good. I'd taken my anti-inflammatories for my arthritic toe joint (poor old cow, haven't I mentioned it before), and we set off at a fair pace, walking with a number of other teams, and listening to their banter and cheery voices, for that first 3 miles of easy track and reaching the 1st checkpoint dead on time.
It all went a bit wrong after that. The next section is Black Hill, and the first climb is short but very steep, and suddenly every scrap of energy deserted me. "Blimey" I puffed "I thought I'd feel like this at the end, not right at the beginning!"
Soon after the climb is the bit where you need to sort out your own navigation. And the fog decided at that point to thicken up to about 20 feet of visibility. I had absolutely no memory of this bit - the first time we'd done it I'd had a terrible time with my hip, and just limped along behind everyone, not seeing where I was going (it all looks the same anyway), and the second time, I wasn't well enough to do that section and Karen and Dawn had done it alone.
It soon dawned on us that we weren't where we wanted to be, and Karen sprinted on ahead to try to find the path. This was my least favourite terrain, ankle twisting tussocky grass, and constantly climbing in and out of peat groughs. Stringing ourselves out so we could just see each other in the fog, I suddenly heard a cry, and thought 'Hey, they've found the path!" Then I saw Dawn's orange top, close to the ground, and then another plaintive call -" He-elp!" Paula got there first, to find Dawn with one leg stuck fast in a peat bog, up to the hip. Completely unable to free herself. Karen and Paula took an arm each and heaved. Nothing happened. "Hmm," said Karen. "Lets try it backwards" "Noooo!" exclaimed poor Dawn "my foot is twisted!" My contribution was to take off her rucksack, and keep out of the bog myself. Karen gave a mighty heave, and Dawn splopped out of the bog, landing on top of Karen, accompanied by the most horrible pong. Paula said it was the peat, but I thought it might have been the relief...
Eventually we re-joined the path, and made it to the 2nd checkpoint, a tent by the trig point. It seemed quite a few people had got lost at this point, so we didn't feel too bad.
Plain sailing down into Crowden Youth Hostel checkpoint 3 (about 10 miles) for a hot drink, and for Al to catch us up with the other team's progress. We were cheered to hear that some competitors were already looking worse for wear, and we were still quite fresh!
A couple of miles over the reservoir, to checkpoint 4, then onto Bleaklow for the first major climb of the day. The path goes up really steeply, then bends around the side of the hill, falling away horribly to the left hand side. My head spun and my ears were singing - whether it was the savage wind or a slight touch of vertigo I don't know. I think I was gripping my pole so hard at this point, I gave myself the most enormous blister on my index finger, and had to put my gloves on, where they welded themselves to my hands for the rest of the walk. I was able to make a little headway on the teams ahead of us for a time, and then found the stoney terrain slowing me up whilst I looked where I put my feet. Once we hit the Pennine Way, it was very pleasant walking, and we dropped down into Doctors Gate at about lunchtime, enjoying a hot drink and a sandwich at Checkpoint 5. By this time we'd walked about 20 miles. Next was the road section, about 3 miles of A57 to the Snake Pass Inn, Checkpoint 6 - and Kinder Scout! This had loomed large in my night sweats, and whilst I'd romped up it last time, that was when I was fresh, not after over 20 miles walking....
We waded through the river, the water felt nicely cooling against my hot feet, and began the ascent. I pacemake the climbs. This gives Karen and Dawn enough breath to sing their way through the Abba songbook. Also the musicals Oliver! and the Sound of Music, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and many others. It was a LONG CLIMB! And right at the top is the really really steep bit, where we have to find the finger path (see previous bogs). Dawn did her Scout Lee bit, and we actually intercepted another team who'd been in front of us for ages. "You cheated" they said. Yeah right. You try it then, I wanted to say. If only I'd had the breath.
Just before the descent, Capt k brought out a huge bar of Green & Blacks milk chocolate. I've never tasted anything so great in my life. I did quite well on the descent, actually, faster than I'd done it before, and we were quite jolly passing The Nags head and walking into Edale for Checkpoint 7. This was a major milestone, as all the big climbs were now behind us, and it was about'headology', and mental endurance now. Of course, there was still about 20 miles to go, but, y'know!!!
I had to bin my gaiters as the zipper had busted on one leg, and the other kept riding up to rub my heel.
We walked gaily through some pretty leafy lanes, and then emerged into a field, where the most enormous hill rose up before us. "AAArgh" I said, or something similar. No-one told us about this one! I was having the most horrible energy nosedive, brought on I think by the corned beef sandwich I had illadvisedly eaten at Edale. I felt really queasy. Karen whipped my rucksack off me, strapped it to her chest, and still got up that hill quicker than me. I tell you, these girls are AWESOME!
We started to see other teams, staggering up the hill. One young lad was weaving from side to side. Dawn gave him her last mini mars. He could barely see, and made a grab for her pole instead, love him. The rest of his team were lounging about at the top of the climb, tutting. That's not teamwork, I wanted to say. WE"VE got Teamwork!!
I'd been having these energy peaks and troughs for the whole day. I hadn't had them in training since the early days. It was terrible - I'd feel completely empty, and that nasty body-voice would say - see, i told you, not fit, hah, who do you think you are -and then when the food kicked in, I'd get this great surge forward and kick the body-voice into touch! I couldn't seem to take food out of my pouch without slowing or stopping and so I gave all my food to Karen and she fed me as I passed. A handful of jelly beans sucked off her peaty palm tasted great!
Al was unexpectedly at the point where the road met the track,it was great to see him! and he restocked Paula with mini mars as an added bonus. We passed a couple of competitors holding hands, hobbling painfully. We sustained ourselves on the way to Chapel deciding what kind of cake we'd have. Lemon Drizzle, decided Paula, and we were sorely disapointed to find that the Checkpoint from Hell, manned by WI ladies making steamy urns of strong tea and dispensing homemade 6inch high Victoria Sponge cake was nothing more than a grey scout hall, with a few biscuits and penguins, (that's the chocolate variety - I wasn't hallucinating).
The girls ransacked my rucksack for painkillers as we left - Dawns inner thighs were hurting, I think from her peat bog episode, and we prepared ourselves for the final sections. We took a bit of a scenic route a couple of times, tiredness setting in. Dusk was falling, and we wanted to be at 'Haribo Hill' before night fell. It was the best checkpoint (9) ever. A big army style tent on top of this horrible uphill road section, I had coffee with milk and sugar and it tasted lovely. A kind man rummaged in my rucksack for my headtorch, tied reflectors and chemi-lights to our packs, and pointed us in the right direction. It was pitch black ouside. We left with a team that we'd been bumping into throughout the course, and I had a major surge of energy and could have run the final leg. Marching on, I said something, and turned, hearing no reply, to see the rest of the team way behind me. I'd mistaken the clanking of my mug, light, reflector etc as the clicking of their poles, and gone off in completely the wrong direction across the field.
I actually quite enjoyed the night walking. You only had to walk to the end of the beam from your headtorch, and had none of the pschological barriers to conquer.
I also felt terribly emotional. It suddenly dawned on me that we were going to do it. Nothing would have stopped me from getting through that final section. I would have crawled it! Still a long way to go - about 9 miles I think, we walked with this other team to the reservoir, and uphill (nasty thing), then along the track towards the Cat and Fiddle pub (closed) and Checkpoint (10). We learned that this was the third time they'd done it, and last year they'd finished at 03.30!!!
I completely demoralised them by mentioning that it was a miracle that I was here at all, as I'd had a hip replacement only 2 years previously, and then burned them off, streaking past them with my Nordic Poles twinkling in the light from their head torches. We didn't see them again. I hope they made it.
Amazingly, Al met us at the top of the hill, having walked from the Cat & Fiddle, by the light of the full moon!! Karen asked him to go back, as we didn't want to be accused of cheating at this late stage. It was lovely to see him, and a complete suprise.
The Cat & Fiddle was a big disapointment. The helpers were more interested in keeping warm themselves than helping us. It was really cold, and we put the rest of our clothes on, buffs, hats and gloves. I don't know how much further it was. Maybe 5 miles? We'd gone quiet by then. No singing. Tired, our legs aching, there was a huge blister under my right foot which I had thought was a stone in my shoe, my arms were killing me, and I could see from the way Dawn was walking that she was in pain. Paula looked as fresh as she had when she started. The girl is EPIC! Karen was tired from the weight of responsibility (and from carrying my rucksack twice uphill). We made ourselves into a sort of Nordic Walking Train, keeping step, one behind the other and propelled ourselves forward. Made mincemeat of the 'cheeky dip'. I almost felt a pang of regret when I saw the Buxton university buildings. A sign attached to a chemi light on a post said : 4 inns FINISH, and an arrow, pointing ahead . "Come on girls" urged Paula,"lets make it look good for the finish!" Straightening ourselves up, we pushed on in formation, to the next sign: 4 inns FINISH, and an arrow pointing ahead. Formation a little ragged, we stepped on to the next sign: 4 inns FINISH, and an arrow pointing left. Up the blooming bank would you believe, and then up a flight of steps, where we crashed tiredly into the bright lights of an office, where somebody said - " Oh, another Team here", cut off our tags and lights and reflectors,took off our packs and told us our time was 16 hours and 46 minutes.
I plopped down onto a row of 4 chairs, and a nice First Aid lady asked me if I'd like a drink. "Yes please" I said, shakily. "What would you like?" she said "I don't knoooooowwwww!" I wailed. Dawn sat down at the other end of the row, and burst into tears. The First Aid lady didn't know which of us to go to first as the tears streamed down both our faces.
Paula unearthed Al from the van where he'd fallen asleep waiting for us to arrive. Well it was quarter to midnight, and we'd been up since 4 am! We all went to the rugby club where we were fed - very hard baked potatoes and beans, and a blessed, glorious beer!
There was only one women's shower, so that took ages, and finally, there was nowhere for the girls to sleep in the hall. Luckily,the Team Motorhome rose to the challenge, and took us all in. We still had the energy for a fit of the giggles though. Dawn lay next to me cocooned in her sleeping bag. "I think I need a hospital" came this little voice into the night. "Or we could open the champagne, I think that would help me sleep"
I don't think any of us needed any help sleeping!
We came 47th in the field. 4th in the Falcon (women's) trophy. Next time.............

Monday, March 26, 2007

4 days to go...

I can't think about anything other than The Walk. I'm hardly getting any painting done. On Saturday I found myself looking at my watch and thinking - this time next week we'll be at the second checkpoint. This time next week, we'll be heading for Kinder. This time next Saturday we'll be - crawling on our hand and knees to the Cat and Fiddle.......
My mind is constantly traversing the route. I've been up and over Kinder in my head more times than I care to think about. And Torside. Dropped down into Doctors Gate. (In fact, I've done a Virtual Walk, so I don't need to do it now, ok? I've got a note from my Mum and everyfink)

The last couple of weeks have not been without their ups and downs. I've been hanging onto a really nasty virus, and was banned from doing the last Sunday walk, as every time I felt a little better, I'd go training and then go into a decine. It was such a nasty bug, I started to think that I wasn't ill at all, it was just me being lazy - I didn't have an ounce of Go in me! Luckily, the enforced rest has turned it around, and I am back to feeling full of energy.

We have all bought specialist fell running shoes. The Kit Inspectors for the walk insist that proper walking boots or fell running shoes are worn, and we are anxious that our lovely Asics Nordic Gels won't meet the criteria. Even though we've done all our training in them and I've worn out a pair and a half. But the alternative is, if 'They' don't like our shoes, "Their' decision is final, and we don't do the Walk....
Problem is, the fell running shoes are dead comfy, and we can't decide which ones to wear on the day. But, we KNOW our Nordic Gels. We've all walked over 25 miles in them, and not a trace of a blister to be seen. Not even sore feet at the end. And we haven't had an opportunity to wear our new shoes for anything longer than about 7 miles, so, I think I've just talked myself out of making them my first choice for the day! Ultimately, I won't be heartbroken if I have to wear the fell runners, whereas I would never be able to manage it in walking boots, it'd kill my joints.

We're having some great publicity - Radio Wales broadcast our interview on the Jamie Owen show on Tuesday morning, and they want us in the studio for a live 10.30am broadcast with Roy Noble. The Evening Echo did a great whole page spread on Wednesday.

If you've managed to read this far - please don't forget to sponsor us! www.gonordicwalk.co.uk has all the links. It's for a great cause. There will be a bucket collection in the Cowbrige HIgh Street on the Day, with live updates available as we phone through to tell you where we are.
Blogging daily from now on....