LDWA – 2021 LDWA 100 (Interview with Shirley Hume)

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.

And this interview is with Shirley Hume, who is one of the organising committee for the event which should have taken place in 2020 (and then in 2021), but it wasn’t to be….. And it’s very hard not to be impressed at the sheer number of 100s that Shirley has taken part in, and just to think of all the fuss that I’ve made about just planning to take part in one…..

Is this your first 100?

Number 38 in the official list , but 39 if you count the two in 1990. 2021 would have been my 40th if it wasn’t for Foot and Mouth and, of course, Covid 19. My first 100 was The Pilgrims 100 in 1982, about a year after I joined the LDWA and before 50 mile qualifiers were introduced. I turned up in Guildford wearing a cotton polo shirt, a pair of denim shorts and with Clarks Nature Trek shoes on [older members may remember these]. I had no idea what I was taking on but got to the end in under 36 hours.

The following year I went to Snowdon for the 100 wearing the old style walking breeches, leather boots and woollen socks, number 3 was Dartmoor and by now I had changed to Brasher Boots and finished in 32 hours. 2 years later it was trainers, running gear and sub 24 hours. I have entered and completed every 100 since 1982 with my times steadily going back up as the years advance. If I keep going much longer I will get to experience the joys of a second night.

What route are you planning to take?

After much deliberation, and not being sure what the travel arrangements might be by end of May, I have decided against doing the actual Sir Fynwy route – given I will have no support I would prefer a route with a base I can visit several times to pick up water and food. As a result I have booked a cottage in Winchcombe and plan to do the Winchcombe Way [42.9 miles] twice. It is a figure of 8 route round Winchcombe so I can have a CP every 20 miles or so. I still need to measure how far it is from the cottage on to the route and then plan a shorter loop to get me up to 100 miles [plus a bit for luck and validation].

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

Map, although if it turns out to be possible I might try and fit in a recce of the night section. Hopefully it will be way marked, at least in places

What training are you undertaking at the moment?

Not enough! I haven’t walked over 30 miles in one go since the Roundhay 50 in February 2020. Although I have walked a lot of miles this year [680 to date] I need to get some longer distances in. Sadly I have discovered how boring my own company is!! I also do a lot of cycling and am concentrating on hills as the training does seem to translate to hill walking [although this may be wishful thinking].

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

A bit of both to be honest. Fewer checkpoints will suit me well and it will certainly be good to have my own choice of food. I have done quite a few Marshals Walks in recent years, so walking on my own at night doesn’t bother me, but i will miss the regular meeting up with LDWA friends at checkpoints.

You were on the committee planning the actual event, so you knew the actual route well. What were the highlights of the route for anyone thinking of walking the route in the future, whether in one go or over several days?

I would recommend taking 4-5 days to enjoy the route, especially if you are looking for accommodation on the way round. The highlights for me are the section from Abergavenny to Pandy, an easy day walk with a bus service between the two locations, and the Wye valley section from Monmouth to the finish [again a regular bus service between the two locations most days].

What food treats are you taking with you?

With 20 mile gaps between checkpoints I don’t anticipate needing much between them and I find it hard to transport apple crumble and custard, but you will never find me without a supply of emergency chocolate!

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

I have done a lot of 100s and haven’t given up yet, or even seriously thought about it – even with trashed feet, stomach problems etc. Chris, who will be manning the checkpoints in Winchcombe, has strict instructions to check me out after 15 minutes and he seems to be relishing the prospect [a bit too much if I’m being honest!]

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

Out of control dogs off-lead.

Do you have any foot care tips?

Stop worrying about how your feet look – if you can still wear open-toed sandals without people fainting in the street after completing a 100 you are doing OK. Although in fairness, after 37 hundreds I never wear open-toed sandals. Always remember that nobody actually needs 10 toenails. I’m really not the person to ask about feet – a physio in Bristol on learning that I was Chris’ wife said to him ‘Lovely lady, horrible feet’, to which Chris allegedly replied that at least he was right about the feet.

Will you have anyone cheering you on and giving encouragement during the walk?

Sadly not, but hoping to have someone at ‘HQ’ to boil the kettle and chuck me back out after 15 minutes.

Would you say you’re looking forward to it?

Only if you want me to lie!

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

Since I don’t really know the route it would be a guess, but somewhere between 30 and 36 hours [depends how rigorous the CP staff are].

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

Don’t overthink it and don’t try to incorporate advice from numerous people as it will probably all be contradictory [e.g. best foods, best footwear, how to look after your feet etc.]. Just walk from one stop to the next [assuming you have planned your fuelling stops] and NEVER think about how far you still have to go until it is below 20 miles.

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 do it and don’t beat yourself up if you fail to finish the first time. If you are worried about night walking on your own try to find someone to walk the night section with you [if not the whole thing]. And enjoy it, the result doesn’t matter, the journey is what counts – so take time to enjoy the scenery, smile and greet people you pass on the trail and remember that sore feet are rarely the primary cause of death.