This page is all part of my effort to walk the 2021 LDWA 100.
Below is some wonderful advice from Mike, who is one of the most experienced 100ers, which is practical and informative. One thing has become clear to me in my planned attempt is that completing the event is, as Mike puts it, “a unique personal experience”. I’ll also be pleased to get Mike’s support on my attempt next year, as it’s the marshal’s walk that Nathan and I are going to have a go at completing.
As well as this interesting advice, Mike has also put together a suggested kit list.
So, in Mike’s words:
From 1991 to 2019 I entered 26 LDWA Hundreds. (In 2015 – 2016 I was suddenly hit with a series of illnesses, and it took me a while to recover and get the confidence to try again. I think my recovery was helped by having a target, and I have since completed the Cinque Ports 100 (hot) and Hadrian Hundred (not easy) I realise that in future I shall necessarily be one of the backmarkers, and that does not trouble me at all. I know many of the other people who will also be at the back and it is quite a nice friendly little community. Before each hundred, I draw up a “walk plan” on a simple spreadsheet which uses my estimated walking speed (variable) between CPs, time spent in checkpoints and breakfast. It also takes into account the difficulty of the terrain. I try to allow for really bad weather, the need to concentrate on navigation at night and for the occasional 30 minute nap at a checkpoint (rest works wonders) The walk plan is customised by experience. On the Hadrian Hundred, my estimate was 47 hours, and it took me 47.13.
In parallel with taking part in the actual event as walkers, my partner and I have been marshals at a number of 100 checkpoints. We also have graduated to supporting the 100 “Marshals’ Walk” – this is a wonderfully engaging task, which we look forward to enormously. I think that running a CP on the Marshals’ Walk is a real pleasure. A LDWA 100 is always interesting, but the Marshals’ Walk is an extraordinary event in its own right, and not just an afterthought to the main event. OK, so why does an average walker (like me) come back year after year?
It is sociable, life enhancing and interesting. Each Hundred is a unique personal experience. I like the non-competitive ethic. It is irrelevant what someone else can do, or even how I did last time. It is what my physical and mental resources allow on this particular event. It is best treated as an individual expedition. I don’t start full of confidence. By the time I have got to the breakfast point (If I get there and assuming that I have developed no serious physical problems) I begin to think I might be able to do it. Psychologically, it is the first 40 miles that I really struggle with. That is the bit I find hard. I try to concentrate on just getting to the breakfast stop. For me that is a target. Pack your breakfast bag carefully, and think what you are going to need. Don’t skimp on kit, particularly spare socks. Once I have washed, changed into clean dry clothes, and had breakfast, I know I will feel better. The next task is to leave the breakfast stop and keep walking. Don’t retire at the breakfast stop unless you have to. It gets easier after that point.
When I get to 70 miles, I tell myself it is just a long day’s walk to the finish.. I am encouraged by people who I may be walking with, by the support at checkpoints, and by my interest in the landscape. I also try to encourage and support other people. Finding a couple of walking companions for the second night is a good idea. Other people have different strengths, and a bit of team effort is really helpful when you are tired. I change socks often, particularly in wet conditions. We got through 10 pairs each on the very wet 1996 Yorkshire Dales Hundred. I don’t usually have trouble with blisters, but that is because I have experimented a lot and found out what works for me.
I love the unique quality of the route, and the fact that each one takes place somewhere in Britain that I may never ordinarily visit. (I never do a recce) You meet extraordinary people. The LDWA has a truly diverse membership. For 48 hours, I am completely out of my usual comfort zone. Other problems and issues of life are set aside. I concentrate on walking, navigation, getting to the next checkpoint and wondering what the food will be like there. Did someone say there would be scones? The support is wonderful. Walking through the night and out into the dawn is transformational. You cannot “buy” an experience like that, you have make it for yourself.
Each year, from February onwards, I start preparing physically and mentally. The effort is as much part of the event as the actual 100. Perhaps I should not invest so much emotional and physical energy in one event, but I do enjoy the training, and it gives me focus and a target. One day, I will get too old. I hope that I will realise that, and go out gracefully. Until then…