2021 LDWA 100 – Miles 71 to 80

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.

The 70 mile mark was one where I knew I’d finish the entire distance, but I couldn’t get out of my mind that I had a lot of hours of walking left. Paul kindly walked the 70 to 80 mile section with me, which was much appreciated, as I had become quite bored of listening to music and needed some human company again. This section of the walk took me around Attlebridge at 70 miles, to Whitwell Railway Station at something like 74 miles and to Reepham at 80 miles. If anyone looks at a map they’ll note that Whitwell Railway Station and Reepham are very close together, but then Google the Themelthorpe Loop (worth reading about for anyone interested in railway history).

When I’m writing this up, the distance of ten miles might not sound much, but it is in context of the whole 100 event. It takes over three hours to walk each of these sections, and when tired, that is something of a slog. I felt that the section to Whitwell Railway Station seemed to take much longer than it had when we reccied the walk a few weeks ago and things started to feel a little more difficult. There was some sort of event on at the station, which is now a heritage railway, and I was a little envious of the people sitting near the cafe having something to eat and drink after going on a two-mile stroll. A little walk like that seemed entirely sensible, right and proper, especially if there was a pub visit afterwards.

I did still remember to do the important things, such as eat food at every checkpoint that was there for me, something like five miles apart. I also kept drinking water to remain hydrated, being very grateful that this support was being offered just for me. As I approached the 80 mile mark, I did feel weary, and I pondered whether I should do my ten mile check of my feet. I decided to, but agreed with Paul that this should be the last, as there was little that I’d be able to do at the 90 mile mark, and it was more hassle than it was perhaps worth taking the time to faff about doing that. There was something quite satisfying about knowing at 80 miles that the next time I’d be checking my feet was when I got back home and it was all over.

I’m not sure that I was always entirely coherent during this stage of the walk, although I sometimes wonder that in general life to be honest. I do remember forgetting the end of the sentence that I had started, although I reminded myself that I was now aged over 30 and these things were inevitable at the best of times. But thanks to Paul for bearing with me, it was all very useful.

The reaching 80 miles worried me though, as I realised that I still had 20 miles left to do. I knew that as a percentage of the walk that it wasn’t very much, but it was still effectively 7 hours of walking and that’s a lot when you’re tired. So, I devised one of my plans, which are usually bloody awful, but this was a good one. I decided that from 80 to 85 miles I’d listen to music, and then I’d get Pro Plus (which Richard had kindly volunteered to locate for me) as a little treat at 85 miles to last me to 90 miles. I hadn’t had any caffeine, painkillers, alcohol or energy drinks of any kind, and nor had I even needed a blister plaster. So, I thought a little pick-me-up at 85 miles would be a good plan, and I was pleased with my new strategy. At least it was something to help get me through what was looking to be the tough 80 to 90 mile section, and also meant that Chelle and Paul could celebrate a well-deserved birthday lunch.

What happened between 80 and 90 miles didn’t quite go to the plan that I had carefully devised (well, quickly botched together)……