the challenge of walking non stop for 50 miles

Walking Non Stop for Charity by SG Marketing’s MD, Caroline Mitchell

Posted on December 10, 2019 · Posted in Blog

The Challenge

As part of a team last Saturday and Sunday, the 7th and 8th December, I was a participant in the Tour De Trigs attempted to walk 50 miles non-stop in the Oxfordshire countryside. 

We elected to try the 50 miles.  A challenge. Fitness, mental strength and the ability to pack a sense of humour are all necessary items on the checklist.

Having been given a sheet of co-ordinates, we firstly had to map our route and identify various checkpoints, some manned, secret and unmanned. The challenge began….

We also had to pass a kit check ensuring we were all carrying the correct amount of crepe bandage, spare torch batteries, food and spare warm clothing.

Through Saturday and into Sunday morning, we encountered strong wind and rain.  There were plenty of boggy fields, hills, lost checkpoints, blisters, cracked heels, the battlefields of Edge Hill and the odd windmill. Add to this fatigue, general dampness and sore bits meant we said goodbye to team members and walking sticks as both had reached the end of their particular road.

High points were manned checkpoints in tents, barns and village halls.  Through the muddiest farmyard ever, we encountered a checkpoint at a doorless barn, Bethlehem!  No baby but such a warm welcome.  Another was the surrogate Grandad we found at the Village Hall in Farnborough.  His welcome made me believe I had been invited into his own home and he didn’t care a jot about how muddy my boots were but that I should just take the comfiest seat next to the fire and he would go off and immediately find me a tea or a coffee. 

At 30 miles, it started to become more difficult.  I had no blisters, but I was fighting fatigue and just wanted my bed.  It was around 2.00 am.  The rain fell some more.  At one point, we stood like cows with our backs to the elements in a very large field of mud with no cover.  We stopped to check our direction.  Finding a road cone, representing an unmanned checkpoint in the fields of Oxfordshire, Warwickshire of Northamptonshire with just a grid reference was proving more tricky. We also started to find that we rarely saw any other competitors as it appeared that a high number of teams dropped out at the 30-mile mark.

Around 3 am, at about 35 miles, we made a couple of navigational mistakes which cost us more time and we began to realise that it was going to be tight to finish in the 24-hour time limit.  Slogging on to 40, one of our team started to experience breathing difficulties.  Again, standing in another muddy field with poor weather we paused to let him catch his breath and to try and establish where we were.  Having reached a road, I suggested we turn on a mobile to find our exact position.  This is absolutely against the rules but we were worried for our mate.  However, there was very poor mobile signal so we didn’t gain much.  As luck would have it, the one mini-bus working the course at 3.30 am happened along the lane we found ourselves in.  So, we fell into it. 

It took a while to sign off, going back to a manned check point, then onto the HQ and finally home getting to bed at about 5.30 am.

The lows: 

At 3am I need my bed.  I was just tired, not because of the walk but just the fact it was 3am.

I carried too much food, and it was boring. It also weighed me down. There was hot water at manned check points and a number of team members took the opportunity to eat a Pot Noodle or derivative.  They have come a long way. It’s warm and there are a lot of varieties to choose from.

The highs:

My Grandmothers’s Brack (tea bread) recipe.  I made a loaf for the team and in the early hours, it did the trick.  Still a favourite.

The team – The banter, supportive attitude, skill and tenacity pulled me through.  I walked with some amazing people.

You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.

Everyone who has sponsored me, thank you, thank you, thank you.  In the unlikely event, you haven’t managed it yet, there’s still time.