LDWA – 2021 LDWA 100 (Interview with Rory Bennett)

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 (completed it! wooooo!!) 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.

This interview is with Rory Bennett, who very bravely is walking self-supported along a route in a very lovely part of the country (and I love Hay-on-Wye). I also love the food of Scotch egg and Haribo, treats that I enjoyed myself a couple of weeks on my own 100 attempt. Rory also has some great advice about this being a mental challenge and just put one foot in front of the other.

Q. Is this your first 100?

This will be my 2nd 100. My first was a self organised challenge walk last year which I did for charity after my original planned 100 ( 2 loops of the Shropshire Way 80k challenge walk) had to be cancelled due to obvious reasons!

Q. Who are you walking with?

I will be walking the route by myself

Q. What route are you planning to take?

My route is a self devised route allowing me to set off and finish at home, whilst not repeating any sections of the walk. I am lucky enough to live in an area on the offas dyke path so I will pick this up from near Presteigne, Mid Wales. I will follow Offas Dyke south through Kington, Hay-On-Wye, over the Black Mountains and down into Pandy. From here I will turn East and pick up the Herefordshire Trail and tracking North up through the Golden Valley back to Kington where I will follow the local hills & footpaths to my doorstep.

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

I always carry a paper map whilst walking however my main form of navigation will be through a GPX route. I always aim to have recced as much of the route as possible so there’s no nasty surprises on the day!

Q. What training are you undertaking at the moment?

My training schedule has been pretty erratic this year due various reasons, but mostly as work has been so busy. Apart from aiming to carry out 3 x 30ish mile recce walk/runs my main training aim is to to keep fit and active. This mostly revolves around attempting 2/3 runs a week of around 5 miles each, and 2/3 sessions on the spin bike a week. I’ve always been a firm believer that if you think you can achieve it you will succeed. Here’s hoping I have managed to keep up enough of my fitness throughout the winter!

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

I suspect there will be aspects of both to this years 100, although generally leaning towards the harder side of things! There is a lot to be said for the comradery on a fully functioning challenge walk which although with all good intentions is impossible to replicate through social media channels. That being said people have the chance to choose a route that suits them, that they know, and that they potentially have a greater chance of completing.

Q. What support do you have en route, anyone cheering you on?

My plan is to walk the majority of the route self supported. After my 100 last year I put a lot of effort into organising specific rest stops that were well manned. This time I want to see how well my body and mind cope with a different challenge. That being said I have planned to meet family at the half-way mark for a change of footwear and some support. I’m also hoping there might be a sausage sandwich waiting for me around 6am!!

Q. What food treats are you taking with you?

For me it’s all about the Haribo, dried fruit, salted nuts and cold pizza. Chuck in a scotch egg and i’m away!

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

Previously I’ve raised money for charity which has been a huge motivator. This time however will be a lot more of a mental battle than a physical one. Having a tracker and knowing people are watching me will spur me on and force me not to give up!

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

Not overly… Maybe the dinosaurs I’m expecting to see well into the 2nd morning after 24 hours walking…

Q. Do you have any foot care tips?

Change socks regularly, trim you toe nails a week before and make sure, if you feel a stone in your shoe, or a lace is too tight, deal with it there and then. Don’t expect it to go away because it won’t and it’ll just get worse!

Q. Would you say you’re looking forward to it?

Yes definitely! I can’t wait.

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

My last 100 I completed in around 36 hours. Anything under 38 will be a success as its a new route and a lot on my own.

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

I almost hate to say it, but the old saying ‘one foot in front of the other’ has never been more true. There will be a lot of times you will want to stop, but as long as you keeping going forward you’ll make it to the end. Look at where you’ve been because you’ll be surprised by how much ground you’ve covered!

Q. 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?

Just go for it. If you’re considering it then it probably is for you. Push yourself to see what your body can achieve, you’ll be surprised. Sign up for a challenge event then its harder to back out, and definitely don’t worry about your time on your first try, that kind of nonsense comes further down the line!