This week, we have a guest blog written by our very own media manager, Carolyn, who attempted to take on the challenge of a gruelling 26-mile trek around the beautiful Peak District with our warehouse manager, JP.
I'm the one on the left and JP is on the right.
"This is what middle-age madness looks like…"
The quote is a line on my favourite T shirt, one I have found myself wearing more than a few times in the last couple of years, as I pass the 50 mark and try to convince myself that my body is still capable of stuff it did in my 20s.
It started with an ill-fated attempt at the London Marathon. That resulted in me having a knee operation to remove the torn cartilage.
Then I had the mad idea to walk 100km in 24hrs but, fortunately, I missed out on that as the entries had all gone.
High rope course? Easy…. I'll sign my best mate up too, then bottle it on the day so she does it alone.
And numerous other endeavours of a similar style…
So really, my mate JP should have known better when, with just one week to go before the event, I said; "Oooh, someone is selling their entries to the Leaden Boot, a gruelling challenge to walk or run 26.2 miles in 12 hours over a stunning high-level route in the Peak District which includes over 5800ft of ascent and descent."
Before she even had chance to check out the route and details, I snapped the entries up.
One week to go – no time for training, it'll be ok, right? I mean, I walk a lot, every weekend. On the flat. Always on the flat. I don't 'do' hills…because of my bad knee and also because I had major surgery on my lung a few years back, which kind of makes it difficult to breathe when I exert myself.
You're starting to understand my T shirt now, right??
So, we both started preparing ourselves for the challenge. She had Plum Porter and I stuck to white wine….
Turning up at the start, a ridiculously early start, so we could have our boots blessed by the local vicar (and sing a rousing chorus of Jerusalem, which I usually only belt out when I've had a couple of beers at a rugby match), we sized up the other entrants.
Crikey, they all looked super fit, and none of them seemed to be carrying a packed lunch and dog with three-inch legs. That's JP's rescue dog, by the way. A cute little girl called Rosie who was caged for all her life as a puppy machine.
Still, it was an easy start – one mile downhill to the beautiful Dovedale valley, and a most picturesque village called Milldale.
No time to linger and take in the views though, as we could see the front-runners already pacing their way to the summit of The Nabs – which seemed incredibly high, far away and STEEP!!
JP stomped off with the rest of the walkers, while I gently made my way up, with a breathing break every fifty paces, a few choice profanities and a swig of pure coconut water to keep me going.
Then, I saw a young man in high viz about 20 paces behind me, stopping whenever I did and keeping his distance. I shouted down to him: "Are you finding it tough too?". "Not really, " he said. "I'm the sweep, my job is to make sure no-one is left behind…"
Yep, less than two miles in and I was already the last person on the trail!
Onward and upwards though. 50 steps, 50 breaths, 50 steps, 50 breathes. Curse.
At the summit I met another lovely couple of marshals, who stamped my card to prove I made it (I'm having that framed, by the way!) and then the steepest descent ever over rocks and wet grass took me back down to the river by Dove Holes – a couple of huge caves in the valley.
That bit was easy. I enjoyed that! But of course, the pleasure was short lived because then it was straight back up the other side. Note to self: when the footpath sign says Warning, Steep Ascent, find another way…
Still, I made it to the second checkpoint, just three minutes outside of the time set, so I was allowed to continue, but sadly all the chocolate cake I was looking forward to had been plundered! I also dumped my backpack here – carrying 4 litres of water was not a good idea and the checkpoints all had plenty on offer.
There was a gorgeous stroll along the river for about half a mile, my body relaxed and I was lulled into a false sense of well-being as the next hill loomed long and imposing ahead of me.
Now, I have to say, walking through a wild-garlic wood is one of my favourite things. So pretty, such a fresh aroma and a great chance to listen to the birds signing and be at one with nature. But I think the birds were all frightened off by my wheezing and muttering….
I had two new marshals to escort me on this section. Super friendly, as indeed was everyone I met on the day, they were happy to tootle along at my pace, which by now was 20 steps, 500 breaths…
Eventually, I made checkpoint three, some 20 minutes after the official 'cut off' time. Rob very diplomatically suggested I might want to call it a day there and advised me that even if I wanted to continue, they would recommend I didn't…
Who am I to go against official advice?!
So, I gratefully drank the water on offer and snaffled down a few of the salty snacks before being driven back to Alstonefield to do the 'walk of shame' out of the car to the finish line!
I'd managed 10 miles and I was genuinely happy with that. Check out the hills above and you'll see why. It might have taken me four hours to do (which funnily enough, was about the same time as the first runners completed it all in) but I was ok with that.
Now, one of the things I did have in my backpack and I use after every walk, was my tube of e'lifexir Natural Beauty Actidren – an amazing cream which really helps ease that tied, sore muscle feeling after pushing yourself.
It's vegan and made from natural ingredients, such as fruit waters and traditional herbal remedies. Added bonus, it smells delicious!
I slathered it on, sat outside in the sunshine, cheering as other runners crossed the finishing line.
And I even had a few of them come over and use it themselves. I should have taken samples (JP, remind me when we do it together next year…we are doing it, right??)
ABOUT THE LEADEN BOOT
Except taken from the official website http://www.alstonefield.org/tourist-info/leaden-boot/?doing_wp_cron=1558425311.4601049423217773437500
"Lead stolen from the church roof of St Peters, Alstonefield in 2010 prompted numerous fund-raising activities within the Parish to raise £10,000 needed to re-lead the roof and to introduce a security system. One of the many fund-raising schemes was the development of a challenge event centred around the Parish. A small team of local walkers sought to create an event that was both challenging and fun!
The result is the Leaden Boot Challenge, a 26.2-mile walk/run that entails 5800 feet of ascent, and descent, starting and finishing in the White Peak village of Alstonefield. Start at the Memorial Hall in the centre of Alstonefield at 09:00 and finish no later than 21:00 (12 hours maximum). There are six manned checkpoints (plus two unmanned checkpoints), spaced approx four mile apart. Locally made pie and cakes are provided for all participants at the finish. Following the success of the various appeals to reach the initial goal of £10,000 by August 2010, the Leaden Boot Challenge has moved on and now supports local good causes. To-date, the event has raised over £25,000."
The route map- https://www.plotaroute.com/route/612478