2021 LDWA 100 – Final Thoughts

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.

Finishing the walk felt a long way from the start, which was at Ness Point in Lowestoft…… My final time was 38 hours and 28 minutes, which really is quite a lot of walking if I’m being honest.

The LDWA has never had a virtual 100 before, something required of course because of national events that sadly meant that South Wales never got to hold their event. For me, the virtual 100 is what I considered to be an easier option than walking the actual event, so this was all ideal for me. I liked that there were no navigational challenges because of the route that we had chosen, I liked that I had a support car near me throughout the entire event, I liked that the route was flat, I liked that I got some road walking in and I liked that I got sleep at home (albeit for an hour). But, I want to stress with some force, that for many taking part in the main event in a few weeks that this is harder than the actual 100, as the checkpoints, camaraderie and support are all near essential. This virtual 100 counts as a proper 100 in the eyes of the LDWA and rightly so, it shouldn’t be under-estimated.

Will I do another 100 is a question that I’ve been asked several times. The problem for me here is that I have no motivation to do another one, I know that I’ve walked 100 miles and I’ve reached that challenge. Although, as the current chair of Norfolk & Suffolk LDWA group, which has just secured the 2025 LDWA event, I’m pretty certain to walk the marshal’s event of that.

What I have learned is that I met a challenge that I didn’t honestly think I could reach, and numerous N&S members have admitted they were’t confident that I’d finish either. This element of completion is far more important to me than anything else, it’s a transferrable achievement for me mentally. My next challenge will likely be creating an on-line project relating to beer, something I’ve been pondering for a while (any excuse to visit more pubs). And I can be driven on by knowing that the 100 challenge was something I didn’t think that I could do, but I then managed to finish.

That means my message to others is to consider taking part in a challenge event. The LDWA offer challenge walks of 18 miles all the way up to 100 miles, fully supported with checkpoints, food & drink and route descriptions. Perhaps just take part in an 18 mile challenge, maybe with friends, see what happens. Perhaps for some people they’ll hate it and not do another one, but it’s an experience to chalk up and another chance to try something new. And trying new stuff is an adventure.

I give huge credit to people who manage to walk 100 after 100, such as Jayne and Chelle who walked with me for some of the way. I don’t know how they do that, that’s proper determination that I’m really impressed by. But I don’t have that in me, I’m too lazy and too distracted by pubs and travel to shoot for that sort of target. But there’s something addictive about completing challenges, whether it’s walking or in other aspects of life.

So, I hope that people consider giving a challenge event a go and see where it leads, and I can’t wait to hear the stories of people taking part in the main event in a few weeks.

I’m a huge fan of the random, it’s something that I can do more in life. The thought of trying random new experiences and going to random new places, some of which I might not like, but many more of which I perhaps will. I’m hoping to find something new and random to be challenged by now and I hope that the experience proves to be one that engages and delights me. The 100 has renewed my passion in adventure and challenges, so that’s been a real boost.

As for the LDWA, I now feel much more confident in completing 26 mile challenge events in the future, they seem quite easy compared to what I’ve just done. I will certainly do that as we have great members, have great challenge walks and there’s some really lovely food available at them, all for a reasonable price. For anyone who wants to have a go, there’s all the information that you could ever want at https://www.ldwa.org.uk/.

My advice for anyone completing the 100 is to spend a lot of time working on your mental strategy, as this is what stops a lot of people from finishing. Break the route down, create mini targets and don’t think of the entire distance. Be conscious that night-time is a low for many, but that energy is also magically restored in part with the breaking of dawn. I liked Seal Skinz socks and putting Sudocrem on my feet every ten miles, as well as wearing cycling short to avoid any rubbing. Eat and drink regularly, even when you feel that you don’t want to.

I’d say that anyone walking the 100 should enjoy it, but there are of course moments when the whole idea just seems stupid and unnecessary, as well as when there is perhaps pain and discomfort. Planning for those dips is useful, so that you can create strategies to get round them.

As a final thanks again, to Richard and Liam for their support team throughout the entire event, as well as to Jayne, Chelle, Paul, Kathleen, Rob and Brian for walking sections with me. And congratulations of course to Nathan, who completed an amazing 60 miles and with whom I wouldn’t have been able to start this whole project. Hopefully he’ll forgive me for coming up with such ideas and for the adventures we had on our training walks (not least youthhostelgate).

Thanks also to Dave Morgan as well. It’s of course been difficult for him seeing his young protégé storm through the event with fewer injuries than him, but I hope he doesn’t dwell on those negatives (it’s just the survival of the fittest), and remains proud of the wonderfully brave 100 he completed and for his constant support over the last year (and even his threats to send me Bud Light and fruit). Alan Warrington has also offered endless good advice, as have members of the NEC and those who helped with my interviews about taking part in the 100. I considered carefully every piece of advice offered and put into place very many of them.

So, in a few weeks it’s the turn of hundreds of others to do the same in the main event and there’s still a few days left to enter at https://www.sientries.co.uk/list.php?event_id=7793. Just under 450 have entered, so that’s a lot of stories to be told. And sorry to Julie Cribb, the national chair, who is now going to be forced to finish the event, otherwise she’ll never hear the end of it from me   🙂