Event Report- The Leaden Boot

Leaden BootThe sweat crusted on my face as my lungs heaved and I tried to force my feet to lug my body ever upwards. The heat was relentless and I had been walking for hours now. Every part of my body demanded that this was madness and I should just stop right now…

This madness was the 26.2 mile Leaden Boot challenge walk, which I had first completed two years ago and remembered steep climbs and oppressive heat. Over 5,000 feet worth often steep ascent to be exact, much of it really steep. As I drove to the start in the tiny stone Peak village of Alstonefield the sun was already high in the sky, promising another very hot day.

The Leaden Boot has a charming and unique tradition called the Blessing of the Boots. A short service is conducted in the Old School Gardens opposite the village hall by local Vicar Rev Anne Ballard. At the end all walkers file out singing a heart rendition of Jerusalem, and as they leave the Gardens, she sprinkles water over boots and shoes to ‘bless soles’ and keep feet blister free.

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The Ambion Way

Ambion WayMy sister invited me to see her new house last Bank Holiday weekend and, as she lives around 45 minutes drive away from me, I saw it as an opportunity to try a walk in a different area. I haven’t done much walking in the gently rolling arable farmland of South Leicestershire so I printed off a leaflet for a circular walk I had downloaded some time ago and set out to complete it.

The Ambion Way is a 9 ½ mile circuit devised by Leicestershire County Council which begins and ends at Bosworth Battlefield visitors centre near Sutton Cheney. Driving towards the Battlefield I found a delightful little car park a few fields away from the visitors centre and decided to leave the car here rather than pay to use the official car park. This decision was to prove quite costly…

I happily left the car, and crossed the fields to the visitors centre using part of the Leicestershire Round long distance path. The Battlefield is famous for King Richard 111’s last stand against Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth in August 1485. King Richard was the last English king to die in battle; the battle that ended the Wars of the Roses and ushered in the Tudor dynasty. The traditional site of the battle was Ambion Hill, after which my walk was named. However, recent archaeological excavations have now placed the likely battle site on private agricultural land a mile away. So technically the visitors centre is in the wrong place- but it is well worth a visit if you would like to know more about this turbulent period in England’s history.

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On the Wishlist- The GR20

What is it?

gr20I recently spent the day in Corsica during my cruise and, having previously known very little about this small Mediterranean island, was pleasantly surprised to discover how mountainous it is.

What I didn’t know until I got home, however, was the fact that Corsica boasts the toughest trek in Europe in the form of the GR20…

The GR routes (standing for Grande Randonnee in French or Gran Recorrido in Spanish) are a network of long distance trails which have been created across Europe. Some of them cross several different countries and they are usually characterised by way markings consisting of a red and white stripe.

The GR20 traverses the island of Corsica north to south, connecting Calenzana and Conca, with Vizzavona marking the halfway point.

How Far is it?

The GR20 is approximately 111 miles (180 kilometres) long and most people take around 15 days to walk it. That’s 15 days of tough, exposed, relentless walking!

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How I lost £100…. by trying to save £2.50

Break inAs endurance adventurers who clock up miles and hours of time on our feet, we can have a tendency to get a bit fed up of the same old local routes and get the urge to mix it up a bit by going further afield. As this often involves getting out into the countryside, using the car is often a necessity, along with a suitable spot to dump it for a few hours.

If you are anything like me you sometimes baulk at paying for the privilege of parking your car and leaving it while you go for a walk or run… some of these country car parks seem to be getting more and more expensive- yes I know they have to pay for the upkeep of the area but paying £5 or more for a few hours parking all adds up.

So if I can save a bit of change I will.

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My Shocking Holiday Confession…

120Apologies for my recent absence… you would be forgiven for thinking I had abandoned my blog and gone AWOL… well I haven’t… I have just been on holiday.

Ok so this is an endurance blog so where have I been and what have I been doing? Some tough mountain climb perhaps? A hard trek somewhere remote? No? Well then how about some really challenging ultra race somewhere hot?

Wrong. Not even close. I have actually been on a ahem- cough- cruise. Ok ok a CRUISE- I have been on an all inclusive Mediterranean cruise. With food on tap all day and sun beds on deck and bus trips galore…

In my defence it was a family holiday with my mum, Step dad and two sisters and yes it was lovely… not my usual type of holiday (of which people usually speak in inverted commas) but very enjoyable. And I did do quite a lot of walking. And used the gym twice! The beauty of a cruise is seeing lots of different places and checking out the ones you would like to explore further- so you see it was a recce really- honest!!

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The Charnwood Marathon- Event Report

Charnwood MarathonThe Charnwood Marathon is a fairly local challenge event for me, and as it runs through some of the most scenic areas of the Charnwood Hills area in Leicestershire and I missed it last year I thought I’d pay it a wee visit. I have done this event a few times before but- whew- it kicked my ass a bit today…

The Charnwood Marathon used to start and finish at Quorn Village Hall, but for the past couple of years it has moved to Rawlins School just up the road. It was good to see Ross and his canine walking companion, Kyla, and we walked together- I usually end up doing these events on my own so it does make a difference having someone to chat to.

It was a lovely sunny spring day, and after being started by the bell ringing town crier we headed out over the fields to the villages of Woodhouse and Woodhouse Eves. I was expecting it to be muddy but thankfully it seemed to have dried out a little.

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Businessman on Start Line of Running TractOne of the questions I am asked quite a lot is ‘how do you find the time to train?’ This is always going to be a problem for us endurance types, as whereas the casual jogger can get by on a couple of short 5k runs a week, the kind of events we do tend to demand that we run or walk for hours and hours in preparation.

In fact it can put some people off endurance events altogether, but that’s a real shame. Look- I get it. Just when do you find the time to train when you have a full time job, a couple of kids and a spouse who doesn’t share your endurance interests and demands that you spend time with them (I mean, just how unreasonable can you get!?)

I understand. Ok I may not have the spouse and kids, but I have the full time job plus two very demanding and attention seeking kitties.

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Just about recovered…

I think I am just about recovered from my failed attempt at the Millennium Ultra. I think I picked up some kind of a virus last week as I felt headachey, achey and really really tired, unless it was just the after effects of the event and my general unfitness and rubbishness.

Ah well. Onwards and upwards as they say… Been getting back on the horse this week with a little running, a walk in the lovely evening sunshine tonight and a gym session planned for tomorrow.

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Event Report- The Millennium Way Ultra

Millennium UltraI have been delaying my write up of the Millennium Way Ultra. This has been because I don’t really know what to say or how I feel about it.

Don’t get me wrong- it was a great event, with the great organisation and friendliness that is typical of a Beyond Marathon event. It’s just that I… well I… kind of… erm…

Oh ok. I DNF’d. Yep- I didn’t finish. I dropped out.

DNF. Those three letters every endurance athlete dreads but which all must face, probably several times, over the course of their running and walking careers. And I faced them today.

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The Millennium Way Ultramarathon

On Sunday I am undertaking the longest event I have done for ages- the 38 mile Millennium Ultra Marathon following the route of the Millennium Way. The Millennium Way is a long distance trail created by Staffordshire County Council and crosses one side of the county to the other.

Beyond Marathon conceived the idea of doing the whole thing in one day- 11 hours to be precise. Although the route is predominantly flat, and along canal paths and disused railway line, there are stretches across fields which are unsurprisingly wet and muddy.

I won’t be able to get away with walking it so will need to use my shambling jog as much as I can. I am aiming to finish within the time limit, and enjoy the experience of crossing a county in a day!

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