On Saturday 14th May 2022, I was one of over 3000 participants, that set off along the Jurassic Coast with Ultra Challenge.
There were different distances to do...
100km either continuous or over two days
50km either 1st half or 2nd half
25km either 1st quarter or 2nd quarter
PLUS, you could Run, Jog or Walk!!!
I had signed up to walk the 1st Quarter! 25km around the Isle of Purbeck.
The sun was shining, the atmosphere at the start line was buzzing, and I could not wait to start under the watchful "eye" of Corfe Castle!!!
After the "warm up zumba" we counted down from 10, to start our challenge.
The route took us around the castle itself, before heading out of Corfe, crossing the train line, and to our first hill!!!
The hill itself climbed steadily, but, as I have the re-occurrence of asthma, I found the first hill a struggle. I had to stop halfway up, to take my inhaler; and to rest, as my watch was buzzing like crazy due to my heart rate being 189 bpm!!!
When I made it to the top, the views were magnificent!!!
You could see Poole Harbour on one side and Swanage on the other.
The track then narrowed and took us through a holiday site, before it took us into Swanage and our stop at 11km.
By this point, my right knee was starting to ache, so once scanned in at the stop, I went to the medical tent for some KT Tape, to strap my knee up.
Then after a drink, a danish pastry, a freddo and a change of socks, it was time to set off again.
Walking along Swanage seafront, with the general public everywhere, you would get people shouting at you... "keep going, you're doing great", "well done" and "you can do it, keep going".
After climbing the hill out of Swanage, it was a path that resembled a torture field of jagged rocks that were meant to be a cobbled style track. This was hell on your feet, and seemed like it was never-ending. When you tried walking on the smooth section in the centre of the path, you had to keep moving over to the side, as there was a cycle event on and we had hoards of bikes bearing down on you the opposite way, kicking up dust as they past. Personally, this was the toughest part of the walk for me.
Due to the beating my feet and legs took on the path that went on for about 5 miles, it slowed my progress towards the finish line.
However, the views made up for it, the trail was green, the sky was blue, the sun was shining, the sheep were baaing and the birds were singing.
On one section, the track narrowed, was steep to climb down, you had to duck to not hit your head on a very low branch, I heard a crack to one side of me. I stopped to see what made the noise, and out shot across my path, a reddish brown stag, with antlers, before climbing the hill that was to my side, before disappearing from view.
I carried on walking, across fields and protected moors, before I came across a sign that said "25km mark this way", which made me very happy, but was short lived. As I crossed another field, I could see a marker, with 25km on it.. but this was not the finish line!!!
Just as I passed this marker, I received a call from Ultra Challenge's Control Room, checking I was OK, as I had not checked in at a checkpoint for a while. I said I had just passed the marker, and making my way to my finish line, and was told I was doing brilliantly, and congratulations!!!
After crossing another field, I could see the flags marking the finish line. After crossing that field, I had reached the finish point, receiving a round of applause, scanning in, getting my medal, my finishers t-shirt, a glass of bubbly and my finishers BBQ meal (vegetarian sausages, vegetarian burger, salad, potato salad, lemon drizzle cake and a can of tango).
I was filled with relief, achievement and saying I would not do that again!!!
Now, over a week has gone past, and guess what...
I AM SIGNING UP FOR 2023!!!
That's right, I am going to do the same stretch again, next year, and try and beat my time of 8:35:54 (this includes the stop).
The great thing is, I had no blisters and I only ached the day after the walk!!!
Oh, and I finished in time to watch the UK coming 2nd in Eurovision too!!!