29km – with Rhys.
I just love charity walks. Why? Because they are well organised and marshalled. You meet exceptionally friendly people and someone is cheering for you when you cross the finish line.
But from the beginning: my new hiking buddy Rhys and I signed up for the 3 Peaks Challenge in the Chilterns organised by Rennie Grove Hospice Care. And he was late. Overslept his alarm. This is the worst that can happen to a German (me). Torn between a heart collapse and a panic attack mixed with a “I-knew-it!”-feeling, I choose the English way of dealing it: lot’s of “That’s alright!” and “No worries!” and agreed to meet at starting point an hour later.
After a slap on his hand we took on the 18 miles challenge from Princes Risborough to Ivinghoe along the eastern part of the Ridgeway via Whiteleaf Cross Peak, Coombe Hill Peak and Ivinghoe Beacon (hence the “3 Peaks Challenge” :D).
We started out with quite a pace. Rhys is a fast walker. Me, too. But my legs are about half as long, so I kind of fell into a slow jog trot. Thank God, we slowed down a bit after the first third. I couldn’t have done the jog for 18 miles. On our way we passed marshalls guiding us the way, feeding us with bananas, candies and water. And you know what? Some people might find it boring to just “follow the acorn” and do a couple of turns here and there but otherwise just walk straight ahead. But I really enjoyed it. I didn’t have to follow any instructions, Rhys took over the map reading, and I was free as a bird to take in the wonderful surroundings. Or the ground, in order not to trip and fall which I like to do every now and then.
After 11 miles, we increasingly started to meet extraordinarily supporting people. Marshalls. “You’re almost there!” (still 7 miles to go), “Only 4 more miles!” (when it was 6), “The rest is just a little up and down!” (when in fact the steepest and biggest, final peak was waiting). And I was hungry. I was craving for sugar. Bananas. By mile 17 I felt reminded of the Minions when Steward, Kevin and Bob were trapped in a boat far, far away from any civilisation or food and Kevin and Bob turn slowly into BANANAAAs. Well, I didn’t jump on the marshalls and licked their cheeks but I was close to. And imagine my delight when I heard that chocolate is waiting at the finish line. Forget about “you’re almost there” and “only a few more yards”. CHOCOLATE is the motivator! The pain in my knees was forgotten; I felt like 17 again, being on cloud nine.
At the top of Ivinghoe Beacon, a few lovely volunteers were waiting for us and cheered for and congratulated us with a medal on finishing the 18 miles. I have to say, it did make a difference. Not the medal. But that someone was waiting and cheering for us. It enhanced the feeling of accomplishment. I remember the Shine event in London organised by Cancer Research. And despite the fact that it was my first marathon walk, I didn’t have any feeling of achievement when I crossed the finish line at 8am in the morning after walking through the entire night. No choir of angels singing for me, nobody cheering. I was just glad that it was over.
At this point I want to say thank you to every volunteer and marshall who guided us the way, had a little chat with us, encouraged us with little white lies, water, candies and BANANAAAs! Also many thanks to Arriva Buses, who took us back to the starting point (I wouldn’t have wanted to walk the whole thing back again), and the lovely, lovely bus driver who gave us a ride closer to the train station. (Thanks to him we made our train back home in time).
The aftermath of the day?
– Sore muscles. I discovered that I do have muscles in my bum! That’s a good thing!
– The question, why I was so whiny during the last 5 miles or so. Wasn’t so bad after all! Although my knees are still a little … unstable…
– The question, what’s the next challenge… Maybe we’re growing a little bigger now. Scafell, Snowdon, Ben Nevis…
What Rennie Grove says about the day: 3 Peaks Challenge in the Chilterns