"I thought you said you were NEVER doing a sponsored walk again!!"
After completing the London to Brighton 100km sponsored walk where I lost 4 toenails, I DID happen to say something like "I'm NEVER doing another sponsored walk in my life!" But it would appear, just like childbirth, you tend to forget how painful something was. I found myself agreeing to take part in another sponsored walk, this time here in Spain! The organiser, Richard Clarke from Calida Homes, wanted to raise funds for WALK FOR LIFE a local charity offering help to those suffering or affected by CANCER. Cancer charities have always been very important to me, as our families and friends have been greatly impacted by it. It's my way of making a contribution to awareness and funds.
My Charity Walk Story....
On Sat the 2nd & Sun 3rd April 2022 I embarked on the challenge of walking in the Cabo de Gata nature reserve, starting at Carboneros and ending in Almeria where they hold a large Sunday Market, approx 62km. Unlike the sponsored walks in the past, this route didn't have toilet blocks, medical teams, massage therapists, or food laid on....or even an exact idea of where we would be walking or on what terrain.. I do like an adventurous challenge!
What started as 10+ volunteer walkers, dwindled down to just 5 of us... right up to the 11th hour.
On DAY 1 Richard Clarke, Tracey Fellows, David Lyons, Rob Allen and I met bleary-eyed in Arboleas at 6.30am. With our luggage, we squeezed ourselves into the two support cars, and set off to a café near the coastal start point an hour away. We fuelled up on Tostadas and Café con leche, and it's where I got to know the group a little more, because until then, I knew no one. I shouldn't have worried so much, because everyone is lovely and they instantly made me feel welcomed as part of the team, and I felt relaxed in their company.
The walk started with high spirits at 8.30am. It immediately became obvious that the route wasn't as flat as we were led to believe, often hearing "It looked flatter in the car!" but we all had a good laugh about it. It was the Cabo de Gata after all! The views were stunning and rewarded us with the odd glimpse of the sea. Tracey F kept us entertained singing along to the music blaring out, supplied via dedications by the Almeria Radio audience. We all joined in on occasions, adding the odd dance routine. Anyone watching would have correctly described us as 'mad as a box of frogs'!
We were joined by 3 wonderful ladies (Wendy Clarke, Hannah Bigley and Esther) who found us in various states along the route, at obscure places where we happened to decide to rest, or where it had the most bush cover for us girls. They came armed with our packed lunches, big beaming smiles, waves and cheery words of encouragement which helped keep morale high.
At the 19miles mark we got to the final stop of the day, much earlier than we had anticipated, we'd kept a great pace to accomplish that. Day 1 mileage was an achievement already! Due to the great high we were experiencing, we practically glided to the wonderful bar hidden away off the main road. Where we hydrated and celebrated. Soon after, we went to find our 'Wendy house' bungalows on a local camp site. We rested, showered, then reconvened for a delicious meal later in our top secret bar. I can't let on where it was, as I made a pinky promise! Just like my promise to be TeeTotalFor2022 I stick to my promises!
I enjoyed a croissant start to the morning of DAY 2, and was pleased that all 5 of us were still upbeat and raring to go, despite some suffering pretty badly with awful hip pain, blisters and other feet, leg and back related issues. In my case, it was the second day of threatening to do a 'Paula Radcliffe' I experienced the same on the London to Brighton walk. Walking great distances (runners have this issue too) takes blood away from the intestines and toward the muscles. With a lack of blood feeding the intestinal system, it can cause a lot of disruptions to normal function..... let's just say that I'm grateful that I packed Imodium!!! I looked around to see others popping painkillers and plastering deep heat, before we headed off to begin our final day of walking.
Our resolute group had to dig deep and battle the bitter cold winds that were as equally determined to rip off our hats and push us over the roadside barriers. Jumpers and jackets were not jettisoned as quickly as day 1. I was so grateful that there was a lull in the muddy ran which we've experienced every day for weeks prior to that weekend...which happened to return the day after our weekend walk. We still walked with smiles on our faces, did the odd jig, attempted more group sing-alongs and played spot-the-ideal-loo-stop in the less scenic route along dangerous roads and a shimmering sea of plastic pollytunnel farms. Our smiles got a lot bigger when bars seem to pop out of nowhere just as we needed to rest our legs and 'powder our noses' We were as excited to see them, as if we'd won the lottery! Someone was watching over us on Day 2 for sure.
It seemed an eternity before we got close to the end of the route. Then all of a sudden it was in sight, we walked and hobbled into view of my husband's car and the support team waving frantically in the distance. My heart leapt. We had actually done this. A couple of us dug that little deeper and RAN into the arms of our loved ones, and the air filled with whoops and shouts of congratulations.
WE STARTED TOGETHER, AND WE FINISHED TOGETHER.
WE'D ONLY BLOODY GONE AND DONE IT!!!
How much was raised?
Collectively we raised over €3,000. I personally raised €462 With most of this handed to Richard after the race. Any late donations sent to my account have been added to Richards Go Fund me page My accommodation, food, equipment and bank fees were paid for by myself.
"Everywhere is within walking distance - If you have the time!" - Steven Wright
Walk for Life is a voluntary group committed to helping people with cancer. It obtained Charitable Status on 14th March 2014. They are located in a village called Arboleas in Almeria. The Walk for Life committee meet regularly and remain in constant touch with each other to ensure they administer to the needs of their client base in a quick and conscientious manner. Please contact them for more info https://www.walk4lifearboleas.com/