LDWA 100 – Q & As with Tara Williams

This page is all part of my effort to walk the 2021 LDWA 100.

This is part of my little series in asking those who have completed the 100 just how they did it, and whether it’s an entirely good idea. This set of answers is from Tara Williams, who perhaps sensibly thought that just one of these 100s was enough, but then decided that perhaps she’d do more. I’m still sure I won’t be doing that, I just have to remember to stand firm on this… (which incidentally is what I’ll probably do on the 100 rather than walking because I’m quite good at standing). Anyway, I digress.

Incidentally, I’m now moderately worried about toenails, Chelle Armour mentions those as well when talking about the 100…. I like the whiskey bit though, although mine will be beer, but the logic holds. And I’ll be amazed if Nathan doesn’t have a tantrum when we walk it, and I doubt I’ll be a bundle of joy either.

Q. When was your first 100?

Having discovered the LDWA in 2007, my first 100 was the Wessex in 2009.

Q. When you finished your first 100, did you think you’d do another?

I had stated categorically that I was doing ONE (and ONLY one) 100…I completed the Wessex…job done…or so I thought…

Q. When you e-mailed me about answering some questions you mentioned you’d had some tears and tantrums on the 100. This sounds just like what I’m hoping to have, tell me more.

The 100 reaches parts of you that other events just do not reach. It can take you to some amazing highs but also some very deep, dark recesses of the mind. The tears can be due to pain, suffering, self pity, fear or just the sheer joy of knowing that you are within stumbling distance from the end.

The 100-related tantrums can rival a 2-year old in their ferocity. The best one was having completed the Housman 100 (2011) and then finding my travel tickets in my bag, having been ‘abandoned’ by my partner…whhhomppp…I went off like a rocket, no holding back. FULL on tantrum…for which I was congratulated (by a lovely lady in the first aid room, whose name I cannot recall…but I am guessing that she remembers me!) as it was pretty spectacular from someone who has just finished the 100!

Q. What would you pick at a checkpoint, two sausage rolls, one chicken bake or one steak bake?

In the early stages, I keep it savory to prevent the sugar rush and save that for the later stages…when I need it. Sandwiches (especially the ones at the Devon and Cornwall group CP, although their CP is later in the event), quiche etc to start then after about 50 miles, anything and everything…and all at once! The only non-negotiable is my large slug of Whiskey at the breakfast stop. That tradition started on the Heart of Scotland 100 and was actually what got me out of the breakfast CP and on the road again.

Q. How important are the marshals to you at checkpoints on longer challenge events?

Very, very, VERY important!

Q. Are there moments that you’ve nearly retired from a walk only to then finish? How do you get that mental strength?

That will be most events! There are a lot of mind over matter situations on events. Usually a ‘pep talk to self’ will do it but when a ‘diva meltdown’ threatens there is always the thought of the people who have had to walk hundreds of miles when fleeing war, famine etc. They did not have all my nice kit and a welcoming checkpoint every few miles. That usually kicks me into gear again…feeling rather ashamed of my (self-inflicted) predicament.

Q. Have you hallucinated towards the end of a walk?

Yes, during a walk, I saw a deer fence which went up, up, uphill and through a never-ending bog…and it was raining…and the deer fence continued, and so did the hill… If you were on that 100 (HoS), you will know exactly what I mean but it was (unfortunately) REAL!

Q. Are you more reliant on the route description or the GPX file?

Route description – it has been written to get us round so I will use it. I am not a fan of GPX…but could change my mind rapidly if I was asked that question when I am lost!

Q. What are your top tips for footcare on the 100?

Accept the fact that your feet will never be the same again! A few days before, cut your toenails short, remove any rough edges and paint them a BRIGHT colour. That way, if you arrive at a CP (Aberfeldy on the 2010 HoS) and remove your sock to get the ‘stone’ out, you will easily see that one bright pink splodge is missing…and will be able to spot it and retrieve it quickly…before anyone notices that your toenail has just gone flying across the floor!

Q. Have you been scared of a sheep / cow / snake / pig / seagull or similar on a challenge walk?

Llamas and anything that looks like a sheep/camel cross can usually be very territorial or just plain angry!

Q. To those people who are thinking about taking part in their first challenge event, maybe just 18 miles, what advice would you give them?

Everything you do in life starts out with taking the first step. You do not know what you are capable of until you try…and then are usually very surprised at what you CAN do.