It’s now been two-weeks since I completed my second Mendip Challenge, the full thirty-miles of the West Mendip Way and it’s safe to say that my legs have fully recovered.
My aim for this year was simply to complete the same distance, albeit with a little more confidence and less loss of direction along the way. I’d have been happy to have shaved fifteen-minutes from last year’s time. As our two coaches left Uphill for the centre of Wells and a 7.45am start, the grey skies were there to suggest that this wouldn’t be the best day for rushing about.
Waking up earlier this morning, I felt as though I could relate to how Pinnochio must’ve felt before he became a real boy. After walking 30 miles across the Mendip Hills yesterday, I certainly feel as though I now need someone to bend my legs for me!
It was the one I’d been working up to with my other walks; the ultimate Mendip Challenge.
I’m very pleased to be able to say that, after a 7.55am start in Wells, I arrived at the finishing point in Uphill for 18.30. I was hoping to finish around 19.00; giving me an hour to spare before the checkpoint closed so, factoring in a single 20 minute lunch break (plus a handful of other brief stops), I’m very proud of and impressed with my time. I’ve suffered a bout of sunburn (it was cloudy when we set off…) and my shoulders ache from carrying probably 30kg of liquid (4lt – not necessary with so many checkpoints) but it feels good.
If you’ve ever considered tackling this one yourself, I can assure you that the first 10 miles (apparently equating to 13 miles by another walker’s GPS) are by far the worst. Then again, we had a coach driver who did anything but instil confidence with his abilities but that really is another story for a different day!! We all arrived and set off in one piece.
Looking at the bibs of other people (including the runners… Crazy people!!), I noticed numbers tallying close to 700. On average, Weston Hospicecar gains around £50,000 for this event each year. I’m quite certain they’ll be close to that average again this year.
Leading up to this event, I’d felt concerned that I could spend too much time walking alone after one of my friend’s dropped down to the 20 mile stage and that, ultimately, I might ‘hit the wall’ at some point because of this. I’m quite accustomed now to walking reasonably long distances solo but this was always going to be a greater stretch. Instead, I feel fantastic for having conquered it (without taking any shortcuts) and I found a simple joy in walking along with both everyone and absolutely no-one at the same time…
I would catch up with different groups of people at various points. Some would overtake me as I stopped for lunch, only for me to leap-frog them again a bit further on (I was quite determined to get beyond Crook Peak ASAP). Each time, I could meet with different people and freely move on. It was enjoyable, yet somehow different to walking with the Ramblers, where there is always one leader; one head of authority and a constant need to attend to the tail-end of the queue. Plus, the checkpoints with free rehydration and sweets were very welcome!
I’d like to close by saying thank you to the Hospice charity for organising this event. I’ll almost certainly be doing it again next year. Also, a huge congratulations to every person who took part. Whether you did 5 miles or more than 5-times that. Very well done indeed!! 🙂