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.
For anyone observant, the mapping changes above as my Runkeeper file corrupted for the 60-100 mile section, but I’ve included the Google route map for anyone wondering which way I went. Effectively, I just followed Marriott’s Way to the end and came back though.
In the last section of this story, I mentioned that Nathan dropped out and I went to bed for one hour with an expectation that I too would do the same when I woke up. The problem I had was that I wasn’t actually that bothered about walking the 100, strange as it seems. I’ve been a member of the LDWA for eight years and haven’t really shown much interest in it, but this became a useful lockdown project for Nathan and myself. So, it was “our thing”, even though perhaps neither of us really wanted to do it. I say perhaps, but I’m pretty sure I can say with confidence that neither of us wanted to do it.
Again, this raises the question of why walk 100 miles? I think I answered that it was a challenge that the two of us had, and we thought it would be an adventure, which we certainly had along the way with the training walks. But, we were always more interested in the pubs, or the gossip, or the stories that flowed. I suspected that we’d never do a long distance walk of anywhere near this length for some years, there are too many other things to do in life.
It meant though that I had 40 miles left to go and I’d have to walk that alone, that was my thought when falling asleep. I woke up and expected to be hurting, to have blisters forming and to have stiff legs. Before I could ponder whether that was the case, I realised I had woken up five minutes before my alarm, despite having just a short period asleep, and that seemed strange. I paused to think about the state of my body and I realised that I also was in no pain, I had no blisters and no stiffness in my legs. It might sound ridiculous, but I was slightly disappointed. I wanted to go to the pub, there’s a beer at the Artichoke that I really wanted to have and I thought that I could justifiably hobble there in the afternoon if I had been hurting.
But, I also thought that here I was caught up in this challenge and I’d done 60 miles, and could now likely complete it. I don’t like walking alone, not because I’m scared, but because I get bored. I want to mention here that there are different sorts of walkers in the LDWA. Some battle around the 100 in pain, because they have a stubborn streak that sees them in regardless of what happens, and they’ll complete the event year after year. Then there are people like me, we want to have a go at stuff, but we don’t have that determined streak. I’ve often accepted failure if I’m hurting a bit, not least with my first coast to coast challenge with Liam a few years back, because I’m not actually that stubborn. Belligerent perhaps, but I’m not very stubborn.
However, I now had the choice of walking alone and having Liam in the support car for mobile checkpoints every five miles, or to ask Liam to walk with me, but then I’d have no support car for a while. I went with the option of walking alone. Some have said this was brave, but I’m not sure it was, it was just I could do it and I didn’t have a good enough reason not to.
I took a longer route in Norwich than I needed, because I wanted to walk by the Cathedral and through the quiet city centre where dawn hadn’t long broken. I liked the still city, it gave me a boost of energy and I happily and contently meandered to the start of Marriott’s Way, the path which would take me to my 100 mile target. I had headphones and music playing, they were the distraction that I needed. Many 100 entrants say that dawn brings a new burst of energy, like a resetting of the body, and I felt like that. The weather was again perfect and I was comfortable.
I didn’t take many photos during this stretch of the walk, which went through Drayton and Taverham. I knew I had to take photos at regular intervals as proof of my walk to get the certificate, so I found what looked like nice pieces of countryside to include. Given that I had shared my tracking with over 100 people, I’d have struggled to have cheated on this walk by getting the bus, but collating evidence was important as that’s a requirement the LDWA rightly have for this virtual 100.
After going through Taverham, I picked up speed and I’d say that I started to enjoy the walk. The thought of the pub had gone out my mind and I could slightly sense that I could finish the 100. And I now just wanted to do that, to get it out of the way and to say that I had done it. At something like 70 miles, I reached Liam’s car at Attlebridge for my regular 10-mile check of my feet. Chelle and Paul were back again to help me, a really lovely gesture given that it was Chelle’s birthday and she could have been anywhere she wanted celebrating, but instead she was helping someone finish the 100. She’s a walking hero through and through.
Other than for a few seconds of cramp in the car, all was well with my feet and I was still not in any pain or difficulty. The changeover of support car was then about to take place, with Richard taking over until Liam returned later in the day to see me complete the walk. At the 70-mile mark, my completing the walk perhaps wasn’t inevitable, but I knew for the first time that I’d definitely complete the 100. At that point, there was nothing that I could see stopping me joining the ranks of LDWA members who had walked 100 miles. I’m not sure completing the 100 was ever important to me before the walk, but when you’re 70 miles in, its importance starts to increase.