LDWA – 2021 LDWA 100 (Interview with Kevin Marshall)

On the 29 to 31 May 2021, the LDWA’s 100 mile event will be taking place. Unfortunately, national restrictions mean that the Y 100 Sir Fynwy won’t be taking place as hoped, when in more normal times the South Wales group would have welcomed hundreds of walkers. Instead, there is the chance for entrants to walk a 100-mile route of their choice anywhere in the country, so the event has more of a national feel this year. And it’s fine to enter to do a shorter distance, with anyone walking 50 miles in 24 hours qualifying for the 2022 Trans-Pennine 100.

I’m taking part in the 100 and I’ve been compiling some resources relating to that. When the new LDWA web-site is launched, this and lots more other material relating to the event will be copied there. Over the next few weeks, I’m speaking (well, writing) to entrants on the 100 and following their efforts up to, and after, the big day. We’ll be using the text from these interviews and updates on social media and also perhaps in Strider, the LDWA’s rather excellent magazine which is sent to our 10,000 members. Hopefully it’ll help inform, educate and inspire others to take part or become involved with the LDWA in other ways.

For anyone who wants to take part in the event, have a look at the SI Entries page, or further information at the LDWA’s web-site.

And this fourth ‘interview’ is with Kevin Marshall, who is walking the event with Sara Mortimer. I must admit, Kevin is much braver than I am, not concerned by cows in fields and it’s clear he doesn’t even intend to consider giving up. And, that’s a lot of 100s completed, I’m not sure that I can ever be that brave! But, we all have to start somewhere…. (and I approve of all the pork pies) And, finally, the line about “ordinary people like me can do extraordinary things with the right preparation and total commitment” is really true, I might pinch that (and credit Kevin for it!).

How many 100s have you completed in the past?

I have completed 22, my first being the Cleveland 100 in 1983 and my latest Hadrian Hvndred in 2019,

How did you convince your partner to take part in her first 100 attempt? Was that an easy sell?

It was a evolutionary process, Sara has always enjoyed walking marathon distance events, she then successfully walked a 50km (which was a running event and finished within the cut offs).

Last February we completed the Peddars Way, which was fifty miles because we continued into Hunstanton and our hotel. I paced the first half carefully as this was the longest she had attempted. After a stop at Castle Acre for refuelling Sara took the lead setting the pace and I was having to work to keep up! Throughout we were self sufficient and adopted a strategy of eating every 10 miles. Our diet was mainly pork pies! This obviously worked very well!

In June last year we completed a 60 mile route around Suffolk, this was to celebrate my 60th birthday. Sara still hasn’t forgiven me for that one as I had the bright idea of starting at midnight! Lack of sleep, dark and torrential rain were not a good combination! But brilliant training mentally, she toughed it out and completed it! Though I had to almost force-feed her jelly babies at one point!

Sara had planned on supporting my virtual 100 this year and walking bits with me. But gradually the conversation stopped being ‘you’ and became ‘we’ so I ceased the moment and signed her up!

What route are you planning to take?

We are planning on taking the Millennium Way from Pershore to Banbury in the heart of England, not an area either of us know but will hopefully get to know. To me that is what the 100’s are about, exploring new parts of the our wonderful country.

Are you following a GPX route, a map, or do you already know your route well?

We will be following a GPX , but will have laminated maps. Maps give more context enable you to see where you are heading and see clearly what to look for on the horizon etc.

What training are you undertaking at the moment?

I run, Nordic Walk and Cycle and Sara Nordic Walks, Sara signed up for the #walk1000miles and also the sub challenge of completing a 1000 miles in 100 days so has already walked over 700 miles this year! A lot of our preparation has been getting out at the weekend and doing at least 20 miles on a Saturday or Sunday or both! This weekend we are doing an overnight walk leaving home at 4pm and completing a route of around 40 miles. We also have a fifty mile route planned for April.

Do you think this will be easier or harder than the actual 100 that is traditionally held?

Mentally I think it will be tougher, as there is no checkpoints to look forward to, no breakfast awaiting at half way and lovely treats that the 100s are renowned for! But it is still a 100 mile challenge so that is the same. I suppose it will be mentally tougher. We will work together to keep the other going, this will work well as long as we don’t have ‘bad’ patches at the same time!

What food treats are you taking with you?

Pork pies and pasties and a few chocolate treats!

What tactics do you think you’ll use if you feel like giving up on the walk?

Give up! Once the Taxi drops us off in Pershore we are committed and no Plan B! The critical thing is to set off in the right mind set, relax and enjoy. If you start counting down the miles you will soon get fed up, set mini goals ie next ten miles, fuel often. If you are tired and hungry you will get fed up. Stay strong feed little and often. Stay focus, set realistic targets and the most important prepare well. You must respect that a 100 miles is no walk in the park, it is a challenge of the highest magnitude. You must believe in yourself, I suppose that is where the preparation comes in.

Are there any wildlife that you’re concerned about meeting on the walk? Sheep, cows, snakes, pigs, or anything else?!

Both Sara and I love connecting with the environment, looking for bird and animals along the route. Fields of cows don’t bother us just confidently stick to your route and talk to them, reassure them you are no threat.

Do you have any foot care tips?

All in the preparation. As you build up the mileage try out socks and footwear you plan on using, leave nothing to chance. In all the 100’s I have completed I have never changed socks at half way! Get it right before the big day!

You’re aiming to be self-sufficient on this walk, what will this entail?

Our strategy is to eat on the go every 10 miles, we usually munch on pork pies full of goodness and calories. We will have a major fuelling at 25 miles, 50 miles and 75 miles. We will carry a stove and freeze dry meals and coffee so totally self sufficient! I don’t foresee water being a major issue because the Millennium Way goes through numerous villages and church yards are always a good bet!

Would you say you’re looking forward to it?

Absolutely without question, it is an adventure, we both love the outdoors and being outside so what’s not to look forward to!

Do you have a time in mind of how long it’ll take you to finish?

It will unfold, our plan is to be back in Banbury before they stop serving food at the pub! We want to down a few Guinness and hopefully pie and chips!

Do you have any advice for others, one top tip about long distance walking?

Prepare well, build up the distances gradually, relax and enjoy and of course believe in yourself.

What would you say to anyone thinking about entering the 100, or thinking about doing a 50 mile challenge event, who might be a bit nervous?

The key thing is to commit, and once you have done that prepare well there is no substitute to clocking up the miles. Our bodies must adapt to being on the go for a long time! Ordinary people like me can do extraordinary things with the right preparation and total commitment.