This is the story of my completing the LDWA 100, something which I didn’t actually always think I’d be able to do. Unlike the previous training walks, I’m going to tell this story in a different way, which is just my feelings about each section of the walk. I usually take hundreds of photos during walks, but when walking 100 miles there are different priorities. My friend Nathan also walked with me for the first 60 miles, but these are my experiences rather than his. These posts are more introspective than usual and there will be an index to these ten ‘stories’ on this page.
We arrived at Ness Point, the country’s most easterly point, ready to start walking at 06:00. We’d had a breakfast at McDonald’s in Lowestoft and the weather looked moderate and warm. My friend Liam was there to see us off on an adventure that had dominated my thoughts for the previous week, and been looming on my mind for much longer.
I could say that I was full of excitement and awe about what was to come, but, in many ways I didn’t want to do this walk. I’m not actually one of the LDWA’s finest walkers, I don’t go out every week on long walks and stride through challenge events without issues. As Simon Hodgin noted to me after the walk, I usually complain my way around most of the challenge events I’ve taken part in. If I’m telling the truth, I’d have rather spent the weekend in the pub going through their dark beer selection or meandering through a city centre in Poland or similar, in the hunt for the best history, cakes and coffee. That’s what I’d naturally be doing, not walking for what could be up to 48 hours.
I did question at this point who I was doing this walk for. It wasn’t for Nathan (it was more the other way round), it wasn’t because I needed to prove anything and it wasn’t as a result of some bet. I dwelled on this question for some time and so why was I doing the 100?
Actually, not for fun, but maybe because this was a way of testing myself in something that I thought I could perhaps do. Other walkers will say how they can overcome huge mental obstacles and physical pain to complete events like this. I’m not one of those, I’m inherently a little lazy and have for years rejected the idea of completing the 100. But, life brings opportunities, and this seemed a challenge which was doable, and if I could complete this, then I could finish other adventures too that I thought might be beyond my reach.
Walking in itself is not a love of mine, I nearly never go for a walk on my own (other than to get from A to B since I don’t drive). Many people walk to escape life, but I’m quite happy with mine and if pushed I’d have to admit that most of the things I love the most are in cities. But seeing pubs, history and meeting different people has brought me into the walking world, and the LDWA is a marvellous community. And there is certainly something about going on walks in the company of interesting people, seeing nature, coastlines, forests and even hills that can all prove to be addictive.
I think that means that unlike many other 100 entrants, I started this walk as a way of pushing outside of my comfort zone to take on a challenge and see what I could learn from that. Whether that was deciding I’d do every 100 (never likely), or just ticking it off and embarking on a new challenge (I haven’t finished drinking in every Good Beer Guide pub yet……) was maybe my real motive for this walk.
There’s something about dawn and the sun rising which the body seems to positively respond to, the start of a new day and the opportunity to begin afresh. Lowestoft in the morning was still, quiet and at ease. I told myself that in 48 hours it’d be over and I’d have a memory that would stay with me, although I was still fearing the whole event. But there was gentle pressure on me to finish, from friends and members of the LDWA, who were all willing me on in a supportive way. If I was doing this walk on my own and no-one knew about it, I’d have no pressure and wouldn’t have got beyond about two miles though, I was conscious of that.
So, there was an element of “but yet here we are” to the reality of my questioning the logic of what I was doing. On that basis, it was time to start walking.
The first ten miles of the walk took us from Lowestoft to Great Yarmouth, via Hopton and Gorleston. Our pace was quick and I was confident that I was doing all I could in terms of being fully prepared. I paid more attention to the weather than I usually ever bother to, perhaps looking for evidence that things would go wrong, but the morning remained warm. We saw Liam in the support car a couple of times during this stretch of path, before meeting up with him again in Great Yarmouth where he was filming us going into Greggs.
There’s not much I can really write about this ten-mile stretch between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth. Plenty about the history and pubs, but not much about my feelings about the walk. The end was nowhere in sight, so the priority was just ploughing on to see what happened. I remained confident, but unsure.