Monday, 27 June 2011

Oxfam Trailwalker 2011 Training Update 2

Ok, so we’re nearly there.

The Blood Sweat & Beers team has just completed the last of its big training sessions for the Oxfam Trailwalker 2011 endurance walk challenge on July 16th and 17th. We are now in ‘taper time’, keeping active, but doing no more big training sessions.

We will be attempting to walk 100 km (or 62.5 miles) in a little over 24 hours in order to raise funds for Oxfam’s poverty relief work and to support ex-Gurkhas. A while back we set our fundraising goal to be £2000, which delightfully has been met through generous donations, but we are still looking to improve on the total and will appreciate any additional sponsorships.

This post is the final pre-event update to show how our training has come along as we prepared for the big weekend.

We have had a lot more team walks, which have become rather long and testing and have also been doing our own training in-between these team sessions. Below you can see information on all the training walks since the first update at the tail end of April. Probably (well, ok, almost definitely) more information than you care to know, but there it is regardless :-)

1) A late April walk around Swyncombe and Ewelme for 29.4 km (18.3 miles) over five and a half hours (5 hours 8 minutes walking time) and 34,720 steps. This burnt off 2,335 kCals and gave me a really unpleasant blister in the middle of my right foot sole.

2) This was a relatively short walk through the fields around Upper Winchendon and Cuddington on the 9th of May. I was trying to follow a circular route on a leaflet (Bucks County Council Circular Walk No. 3) but managed to accidentally go down a shortcut route the wrong way for a bit, making the whole route rather longer than it should have been. Anyway it was a 10km (6.2 miles) walk, taking 9,300 steps and burning 735 kCals over a couple of hours.

3) The fifth team training walk was on the 15th of May and involved a 26.5 km (16.5 mile) loop that went through Henley. This took 5 hours and 34,530 steps to complete and burnt off around 2,130 kCals.

4) The sixth team training walk on the 29th May upped the ante somewhat. This was over 38 km (24 miles) and involved 49,616 steps. We were out for 9 hours and 45 minutes, but were actually walking for just under 8 hours. This was out first attempt at having the support crew involved in checkpoint duties and we learned a few lessons about how to coordinate this better…

5) My next walk was on the 4th of June and was a circular walk around my town: The Round Aylesbury Walk. I had a couple of diversions to avoid being chased by cows any more than was absolutely necessary (which apparently amounted to several times) and so this 12.7 mile walk ended up being almost 16 miles (nearly 26 km), although that did include walking to the route and back. The actual walking time was 4 and a half hours, although I had 40 minutes not walking, mostly trying to make the sole of my right foot comfortable. This walk took 31,080 steps and burnt 1,860 kCals.

6) Our seventh team walk was actually two walks on the 12th June, one straight after the other, on a rainy day. The rain started off pretty light and non-threatening for this first loop. It involved 3 hours of walking over 3 hours and 45 minutes, covering 15 km (9.3 miles) taking 16,630 steps and burning 1235 kCals.

7) This second loop was another 3 hours, with only 20 minutes not walking. Apparently I lost all the other figures for this walk. However I can mention that it was literally pouring with rain throughout pretty much the entire walk, Not an enjoyable yomp by any stretch of the imagination.

8) The 8th team training walk on the 19th June was another big one. We did the first 40% of the real Trailwalker route (with one or two unintended diversions off course). This 38km (24 mile) walk took a little over 8 and a half hours of walking and well over 41,000 steps. I burnt off 2,880 kCals during this time.

9) The final two team training walks were to both be held over one weekend, on the 25th and 26th of June. On the Saturday we did two loops for the 9th team walk, the same two as 6) and 7) above, though done the other way round. This first loop took us 3:17, lasted around 17,080 steps and I burnt 1,105 kCals.

10) The second loop took us 3:45 over 17,020 steps and I burnt 1,407 kCals.

The 10th and final team training walk was to be done on the actual Trailwalker course the day after the 2 loops above. It was set to be about 40km, covering the section we will be walking at night, to give us some advantage when we’re trying to find our way along the route in the dark. Doing 2 big walks on consecutive days was the final training push to give us a good idea what it is like walking on tired legs.

Alas, illness struck the team and it was decided that the rest of us would do our own walks. I chose to do a number of local circular walks that I’d found out about from the local County Council. The weather forecast for these Sunday walks was that it would be hot. Indeed it was pretty warm by around 9:30 in the morning and from late morning onwards it was somewhere around 28-30 degrees Centigrade (82-86 degrees Fahrenheit). Walking for 8 hours in that heat (including travel time) was very trying and I lost several pounds of weight during the day!

11) This was the first walk of the day, from Upper Winchendon off to and through the grounds of Waddesdon Manor. This was a really nice start to the day, going across pasture land, through tree-covered areas and out along crop fields, and of course the stately home itself is extremely grand. This was just over 8km (5 miles), including a missed turn and a backtrack to correct it, and took around 8270 steps in 90 minutes and burnt 551 kCals. The heat was starting to rise by the end of this early walk.

12) The second walk ranged from Brill to Boarstall, starting at the restored Brill Windmill and taking in a good tour round via a part of the ancient Bernwood Forest, Boarstall Tower, Boarstall Duck Decoy and back up to the windmill over 7.25 km (4.5 miles). The sun was getting very intense and any tree cover was a welcome respite. I trudged 8,660 steps and burnt 700 kCals over 80 minutes. The higher temperature was causing me to work harder over less distance.

13) This walk around Oving and North Marston wasn’t so interesting – it’s really a collation of 5 bridleways, although it does pass some magnificent recently constructed farm buildings. This 6.9 km (4.25 miles) walk took 75 minutes and 7,730 steps and burnt 753 kCals. The heat was really quite oppressive while walking fairly quickly with a backpack. By the end of this walk, I was pretty frazzled and ready to throw the towel in, but i figured I hadn’t really done enough distance, so I risked another one.

14) This final walk of the day was around Thornborough’s surrounding countryside, starting out by crossing Aylesbury Vale’s mediaeval bridge, the only surviving one in the county. Thornborough was in existence back in 1086 and was recorded as Torneberge in the Domesday Book. The route also takes you along the Buckingham Arm of the Grand Union Canal, now a nature reserve, by the River Ouse (and across it over a sluice), by the remains of an old windmill, as well as past ancient burial mounds and a deserted mediaeval village. This 8km (5 mile) walk, again including a missed turn and a spot of backtracking to fix it, took 90 minutes, around 9,500 steps and burnt off 1,049 kCals. I was pretty finished at the end. I can only be thankful for the air-con in my car as I drove between the walk start points.

Over these walks we’ve been trying out different types of walking boots and walking shoes, finding which socks can be worn for hours of walking without causing too many blisters and working out which foodstuffs top up the energy levels best. We’ve had all sorts of weather from monumental downpours to hot, sunny days and have had the pleasure of enjoying lots of the British countryside (and being chased by many British cows through various fields)

The whole point of this endurance event is to raise funds for Oxfam and the ex-Gurkhas. The team is entirely reliant on our generous friends, colleagues, acquaintances and contacts and the donations they can make to encourage us to make it through this mind-boggling amount of walking. We’d really appreciate any extra sponsorship that you can manage!

Thank you!

Brian from Team Blood Sweat & Beers