The Trail magazine competition offered free entry to the Ridgewalk and 3 guest blogs on its website. As a fledgling writer trying to expand horizons I was tempted. There was the minor issue of 52 miles to cover, but hey I needed a challenge. And the sponsorship target seemed achievable.
Frankly, this wasn’t the most commendable motivation and somewhat selfish. It got me signed up though – training would need to be well advanced by the time the winner was announced. Which proved good judgement – I didn’t win but was committed now. No backing out.
Fast forward two months, the first 30-mile training walk under the belt, sponsorship in need of a boost so time to hit social media. Out of the blue came £100 from a business colleague. Turns out he used to be a Sense trustee; his daughter was profoundly disabled from birth and received a lot of help from the charity. Thoughts went back to when we first met, two days after his daughter died, things still raw. Forget business, we just talked. The Ridgewalk was suddenly taking on meaning. Which felt kind of nice.
Come the day and 5 hours in, all was going well. The lunch stop at the stone circle was a welcome respite from the ever present heat. Bodies scattered, boots off, sandwiches devoured – a brief interlude from the punishing pace.
‘We just thought we’d come to say thank you‘ said mum Rachel. ‘SENSE HOLIDAAAAYS!!! ‘shouted Laszlo infectiously, not for the last time.
Coincidentally, Laszlo and Rachel had decided to enjoy the sun and have a day out. They were just passing when they spotted the sea of Sense t-shirts and decided to say hello as Laszlo had received support from Sense over the years. He reminded me of my 10 year old grandson, a year or two older maybe.
A fellow walker, Shaanvir, also knew Laszlo. As a Sense worker he’d spent a day with him at an event and confirmed him as a young lad supported by Sense with a bundle of energy and a generous heart. Yep, just like my grandson.
The amount I raised could help fund a Sense holiday. So to my mind I was now buying three days of fun and development for Laszlo, three days of much needed breathing space for mum. Time to lace those boots up again, the Ridgewalk was completely real now. I had work to do.
Another 16 hours as it turned out. I avoided the debilitating blisters that afflicted many but it was hard. Particularly when spirits ebbed away with the light, around 10 pm. The 40 mile stop – an hour before the light returned – was a difficult point too, fatigue gripping us relentlessly. Laszlo popped back into my head and made it clear that stopping wasn’t an option.
Pain is temporary, memories permanent. Repeat mantra. Head down, trudge on.
I crossed the finish line at 7.30 am with walking partners Nicola and Vicky, big beaming smiles hiding the pain. Time to down the Prosecco and devour the breakfast, reflecting on a job well done by all. A challenge we were all nervous about had been met, we could sleep well knowing we had done our bit.
A few days later I found out that Vicky – my finish line friend – was the winner of the Trail magazine competition. Reading her training exploits with Nicola (aka Cappuccino) just brought it home – everyone had a story to tell, their own reasons for submitting to the Ridgewalk.
My motivation may not have started in the right place but it got there in the end. Which made it all the more rewarding.
Thank you Rachel and Laszlo, it was a pleasure to meet you – I know I’m not the only one you helped. And thank you to all at Sense. For everything.
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