On Saturday (June 27) at 8.30am, myself and five friends set off from Paddington on the Grand Union Challenge: our bid to walk 100km in 24 hours to Bletchley along the Grand Union Canal. Our team of six Jessica and Darryl Abelscroft, Duncan Sagar, Frances Kirwan, Alan Holland and myself, were raising money for Plan UK, Crisis, Macmillan, the Canal and River Trust and Mind, respectively (Team Shmaka Shmaka Boom Boom). We are all so grateful for your support. We've collectively raised more than £5,000 for our charities and personally I've now raised more than £2,500 for Mind, which is an amazing show of generosity from my friends and family.
I'm going to leave my fundraising page open and continue to link to it from this blog so if you are reading about the challenge a long time after the event, you can still donate and I promise that it will still be gratefully acknowledged by me and by Mind. You can donate via the link, or it is super easy to send money by texting the code LMIL99 and an amount, eg. £3 to 70070.
I kept thinking of the massive support behind me when going through the toughest bits of the challenge when the pain from my blisters was at its worst and it kept me plodding on to the end. Unfortunately, two of our team members, Fran and Alan, had to drop out at 50km because of their injuries but the remaining four of us made itto the end in 24 hours 30 mins. We burnt around 8,000 calories each and covered more than 200,000 steps (we reached the maximum that my digital pedometer could count just before the halfway point. It was by far the hardest thing I've ever done, mainly because of blisters the size of flattened golf balls on each foot (don't worry I won't treat you to a picture). A few years ago I did a London to Paris bike ride and I didn't think it would be tougher than that, but it was.
A huge thank you goes out to all our sponsors, the brilliant crew at Union Challenge for an extremely well-run event, to the wonderful volunteers at St John's Ambulance for patching us up through the night, to the volunteer sports masseurs for helping to keep us going, to Vincent Huck for meeting us at the 50km for a much-needed morale boost and to my black cab driver on the way back from Euston who felt so sorry for me he only charged me half the fare and told me to donate the rest to Mind.
Here is our 24 hour struggle reduced to thirty painless seconds:
And this is a photo diary of the event:
Cute canal dweller near the start
Blissfully unaware of the pain to come (at 18km).
Fran-Fran, do the can-can while you still can, can! You won't be able to do that again for a week (at 31km).
There once was an ugly duckling, with feathers all stubby and brown, and the other birds said in so many words, get out of town.
We made it halfway!
Pedometer doesn't go any higher, but we do!
At the 62km stop-off about to enter the overnight stretch with headlamps and glowsticks to light our path. This is the worst rave ever
We survived the night. Only 10km to go now. This is getting seriously painful.