Cor Blimey! who turned up the heat on Saturday for that event!!!This event was organised by Discover Adventure. The actual route was kept a secret until seconds before we were allowed to set off. So I was only able to have a look at map to get an idea of the terrain, hills and any other surprises anticpated.
Thankfully I train off road and with some hills!The event was described as "tough"! The details are - The magnificent prehistoric stone circles of Avebury and Stonehenge need little introduction. We start in atmospheric Avebury, where we can get up close to the ancient stones before heading via the famous ancient landmark of Silbury Hill.We cross spectacular chalk downs dotted with ancient earth-works, burial mounds and enigmatic white horses carved into the chalk. Our route takes in the highest point in Wiltshire (295m) and goes through the most active crop circle area in the world, so keep your eyes peeled!This is a tough event over the high chalk downs and ridgeways of Wiltshire and Salisbury Plain. At 26 miles it forms a marathon for runners and an enormous challenge for walkers. You can run, jog or walk the route and we also offer a half marathon finishing point too. Our challenging day starts early at Avebury before heading via the mysterious landmark of Silbury Hill. Skirting a prehistoric long-barrow, we climb steeply up onto a ridge and follow this through beautiful country-side. Passing close to one of the white horses that make this area of chalk downland famous, we then drop down into the village of Alton Barnes and follow the Kennet & Avon Canal east on a welcome section of flat land dotted with farms and hedgerows.From there we head south and join the White Horse trail, crossing part of the large expanse of the MOD training area, we can now start to anticipate the finish line at the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge!My training partner, Phil Kemp, a marathon runner, and I had worked on a strategy to not just complete this course as a charity walk, but as a challenging endurance event. We wanted to finish in a good time and make our sponsors proud of our effort. Phil set a cracking pace from the beginning
. We left the other particpants eating our dust. Which amused me as a few had laughed at me in Duck suit and even dared to comment on how slow I would be. One man even said "I am not walking with you"! No mate, you didn't..you were an hour behind me ;0)I wore my Ducksuit with the head on for the entire event. I had a different base wear than usual. I usually wear a berghaus techy t-shirt and compression tights. But I know they get uncomfrotable and smelly esepcially when hot! I also have to use the modest toilet accessory called a "Whizz" which can be awkward if I have leggings and ducksuit on! Chocolatefishmerino
are a wonderful and friendly company that sell the best ever merino wool clothing. I cal it "huggable choclate!". Wool is often seen as a winter item, but I can assure you that the T-shirt
and freedom leggings
I wore kept me cool and comfortable for the entire event. Excellent wicking quality. Plus the freedom leggings have a suitable modesty opening for the "whizz". No chaffing or wetness endured. I was a sweet smelling Duck on completion. In fact I was able to eat at a Harvesters after the event in my merino t-shirt without any complaints!A few miles into the course Phil got a niggling blister and changed out of his trainers into his Crocs. he was only going to give himself some temporary comfort from his trainers. But he was so comfortable in them he actually completed the course in his crocs! The terrain was a little tricky so I admire his tenacity as there was no ankle support in those!I sustained a burning sensation on the ball/sole of my feet after 5 miles. I had to stop and change into a different pair of double socks, and apply compeeds to both feet for some comfort and hopefully stop any more blistering.
I had stupidly decided to not wear my usual sock combination, Bridgedale trek socks with Bridgedale liners, that has done me proud in the past. I was wearing some excellent wicking merino socks but sadly there was a "towelling" effect that seem to grate at my feet. I had worn them for running and they were fine. But not for this event sadly. Lesson learned..stick to what you know works and is comfortable. I tried to not grumble too much and just dug deep.
The terrain didn't help my feet. There was a 10km long track through military land that I am convinced was lined with red hot coals! The sharp gravel was really digging into my poor feet. My deliciously comfortable walking shoes, Exit 2 GTX,
were feeling very thin soled! But the excellent vibram sole kept my feet from turning and helped strenghten my ankles even more. I was walking a little awkwardly to overcome the discomfort on the blisters.The first half of the course from Avebury to Alton Barnes was beautiful. Lush green landscapes with rolling hills. The White Horse at Alton Barnes became a very good friend as we walked around it, away from it..always there in the distance whenever we looked bhind for the next 15 miles! The canal section provided a much needed cooling environment with a breeze to help revive us. Off the canal and up towards Manningford
Bruce was where we encountered the worst of the tall nettles and Brambles..and Snakes!!! At least I was fully protected in my Duck Suit but poor Phil had just his skimpy shorts and t-shirt on!I haven't kept a copy of the route map but it was from about here the course became quite tedious and dull. It was the 10km gravel track that took us through the military firing fields towards larkshill, then onto Stonehenge. Phil was always a few yards ahead of me keeping up his cracking crocs pace. The Event Organiser passed us a couple of times in her jeep and laughed aloud that the chap laying the markers was only 5 minutes ahead! They had never known anyone to keep up a fast pace. hehe ! they haven't come across the formidable team of ! Duck and her mate Crocs!Coming through the military housing estate near Larkshill we were joined by a small group of children. I broke out in a cold sweat thinking they were going to run alongside jeering. I had already had a couple of call outs from a young lad (7) using very blue language. I was now tired and not in the mood to have any more such nonsense. But these little guys were shouting the most encouraging things. "Come on Super Duck!". "We love Ducks".. "We know a short cut to Stonehenge.."! No, we didn't cut the route short! One little girl asked for her own fibroduck, which I gave to her. She squealed with delight and went off to show her Mum. They also took turns to take photos of themselves cycling along my side. Phil was starting to get further away; he wasn't hanging around to hear how super the Duck was! I had to call after him to wait up. The Little Guys also called out after to him "Oi Phil wait for the Super Duck!". They then cycled with me as I ran to catch him up. This was one of those moments that then gave me the energy and determination to really dig deep, and speed up! Mind over matter; ignore the pain!
As we left the housing estate in our wake, we came out on another open path. Another exposed path to cook us further as there was no shade or wind. But there was the refreshing sight of Stonheneg suddenly in our vision. Hooray! we sped up and marched towards the..the.. oh..where was the finishing line? A rev of an engine made us jump and move to the edge of the path quickly. It was the Discover Adventure Jeep again! It dissapeared off in a cloud of dust and stopped about 100 yards ahead of us. They jumped out, grabbed one of their flags, and a couple of medals, and welcomed us over the finish line as we rapidly caught up the dust cloud! 7 hours 23 minutes
, and we had almost beaten the Event Organisers to the designated finish area!! We finished in a record course breaking time! Power to the DucWe had to wait for a few people to finish before we could get the shuttle bus back to our cars. I changed out of my Duck suit after the photos had been taken with Stonehenge in the distance. I sat on path's edge drinking water and eating peanuts reflecting on what we had achieved. Final laugh was listening to the people finishing behind us "Oh, where is the Duck? Did we beat her??"Oh no! Super Duck was a good 40 minutes ahead of you.
A few people were surprised that a chunkymunky in fancy dress could move at such speed in that heat and on that terrain. I thank Phil for being a fantastic pace setter. Plus my training, and the excellent team at revive
for making sure I get the best training to do these endurance events. Plus of course I was fueled by the delicious nakd bars
. What a team. Thankyou everyone!Plus a huge thankyou "QUACK" to all of the wonderful people who sent me lots of encouraging messages of support from Twitter and Facebook. I am doing these events to raise awareness and funds for Fibromyalgia. Your messages helped keep my spirits lifted and the mind focused on what I was doing and why. My discomfort was minimal and for a small time frame compared to what a Fibromyalgia suffer endures.