LDWA – 2021 LDWA 100 (Interview with Caroline Tennant)

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.

This interview is with Caroline Tennant from East Lancs group and it’s her first go at the 100, and I’m in a similar situation, as 55 miles will all be new territory to me as well. Not that this is all about food of course, but I like the mention of pies.

How many 100s have you completed in the past?

None, this is my first attempt. I started thinking about 100s a few years ago, looking at 2022 to be my first try. Then I decided I wanted to recce the Y 100 Sir Fynwy, just in case. When the virtual event opened, I jumped at the opportunity.

If Covid rules allow, you are walking as a group of eight from East Lancs group. Are you hoping this plan keeps you sane and encouraged?

There are a number of East Lancs members walking various routes for the virtual 100. Our little group is, currently, made up of eight of us that have all walked and entered various events together, none of us have ever completed a 100 before and we are mostly at the slower end of the walking scale. We plan to walk together, as a team, rather than at our own individual paces.

Being of a wide range of backgrounds, ages and experience, we always have something to talk about. And a sense of humour is essential. I’m not sure anyone else would tolerate my listing, charts, maps and incessant organising. I’m hoping we all keep each other entertained to pass the time and get through the miles. I don’t think any of us are sane to begin with, so that’s not an issue.

What has appealed is the chance to give it a go, even if we don’t succeed. Not having a limit on entries gives people an opportunity to give it a go, on their own terms. We might not all get to 100 miles, but we will go as far as we can, which I think together might be further than we all think.

What route are you planning to take?

We are doing a route connecting three of our homes/gardens, allowing us to have 3 checkpoints with good facilities and food. We tried to have a range of terrain to keep it interesting. Canals, parks, moorland, riverbanks, hills and few sights to keep both our feet and our heads entertained. The route is centred at Rivington, extending out to Hoghton Tower, Tockholes, Smithills, Haigh Hall, Yarrow Valley and Cuerden Valley.

What other support are you hoping to have on the route?

Between our three home checkpoints, the route has been planned to go via various shops, cafes and even a motorway service station. Whilst we will have to carry a certain amount, we have plenty of opportunity to resupply on the way. There will be a couple of people on standby for emergency rescues, which hopefully we won’t need. And two long suffering husbands, who are cooking dinner and breakfast for us.

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

Hopefully, between us, we should know the route well as it is all very local to us. We will have the GPX, maps and a brief description to refer to. What we think we know well may be very different on the day, depending on the conditions, and more so once we are tired.

What training are you undertaking at the moment?

Planning and recceing the route has been a great opportunity to up the mileage. My plan is to just keep walking and get the miles in.

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

Being able to choose our route and having been able to recce is a huge advantage. I think what will make it harder is not having the support of marshals and competitors on the day. Whilst we will have each other to cheer ourselves on, there is nothing more encouraging than being met by a cheerful marshal, brandishing crumpets, at 2am.

What food treats are you taking with you?

Salt and vinegar crisps, cheese and jam sandwiches, custard. But not together.

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

Stubbornness and possibly some general shouting (with my hands on my hips). A few years ago, I tore a quote out of a walking magazine and stuck it to my fridge. The gist being, “Pain and tiredness are temporary, just keep going. But always stop for a cup of tea when you can”. I spent much of my first 50 repeating that to myself and drinking tea. I suspect this 100 may be the same. Either that or singing Monty Pythons “I’ve got two legs” to myself. It’s the only song I know all the words to. Hopefully the 8 of us will pull each other through and I won’t have to resort to singing.

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

Having been whacked in the face with the poop covered tail of a bull and survived, I’m not too worried. Though it does freak me out when my head torch reflects of sheep eyes in the dark. Are they really just sheep, or something more sinister?

Do you have any foot care tips?

Keep toenails short and use Vaseline and taping, if needed. Wear decent socks, there is nothing worse than a lumpy or threadbare sock for causing problems. On the event, see to any issues as soon as they arise.

Would you say you’re looking forward to it?

Yes. I don’t know what will happen, it’s all new territory after about 55 miles. But I’m really looking forward to giving it a bash, in very good company. We will get each other through. And there are pies to be had at Pike Cottage.

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

In theory I think we will be looking at about 42-44 hours. Who knows in reality?

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

Keep eating and drinking throughout, even when you don’t want to. And take a few photos because you won’t remember half of it properly afterwards.

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?

Go for it. You can walk further than you think you can. Build up from shorter events. And if you don’t finish, you can always try again. At the very least, you will have met some lovely LDWA people and been well fed. I can’t wait for LDWA events to start again properly!