Well we did it! Mum and I walked 26.2 miles through the dead of night (except it was light the whole time) during the summer solstice in Iceland. Thanks to all of you who supported our efforts I managed to raise almost £4000 in sponsorship for the walk the walk breast cancer appeal. I can promise you, knowing the amount of money we had raised certainly kept us going when our legs were dead, our hands were cold and our eyelids were heavy. It was one hell of a walk and I thank you all.
When I was young(er) I always fancied being a professional fundraiser/events manager for a charity. I must have watched a film or something with a very cool lead role who was a professional charity fundraiser. Anyway, clearly I didn’t head down this career path instead choosing the health and fitness industry. However, who knew I’d be able to combine my passion with my once fleeting dream of being a professional fundraiser!
I’ll admit I headed to Iceland on the 16th June completely underestimating just how hard this marathon would be. As it was a walk I don’t mind admitting I had a little “wing-it” attitude. How wrong was I!!!! As a generally fit person and someone who walks every day I didn’t think the marathon would be that much of a challenge. However, the combination of the cool temperature, starting it at midnight and the lateral slants of the road had me in agony by mile 10 and every mile until the end! I am not too proud to say I feel I earned the sponsorship in the end as the walk was so much harder than I thought.
At the start line our warm up consisted of the hokey-cokey and some left legs in and out plus a little flag waving. We then had to walk around a mile to get to the start line. We were so busy faffing around with our decorated bra’s that we ended up starting right at the very back of the pack. However, our pace carried us forward and we were soon overtaking women and striding ahead. Not being competitive at all this didn’t spur me on one tiny little bit! (oh yeah right!). We started off well (and when I say ‘we’ I mean mum and I). All jovial, high spirited and at a pretty decent pace. I calculated if we maintained our pace we would be finished in 6 hours, which would be fantastic.
I kept a snap chat video (<— watch here) of each hour and looking back it had me in stitches. We were so excited by the lack of darkness and all giddy at finally starting the walk that if I’m honest, we may have set off too quick. According to snapchat we crossed the 10km mark at 1hr 30mins, which is pretty good going and we were joking and singing as we did. These high spirits didn’t last as long as we’d have liked! Around the 2hour mark those damn midges hit us!! Iceland is well known for it’s midges and Myvatn (the lake we walked around) literally translates as ‘The Lake of the Midges’. About this time you’re torn between wanting a nice warm temperature with no rain, but tons of midges or a very cold temperature, high winds and no midges. Anyway, we were prepared, but it made for one very sweaty face!
By around 3am, we were starting to feel the pace, the night time and the novelty wear off. However, just in time the most amazing rainbow made an appearance. One thing you have to say about Iceland is they have the most amazing rainbows I’ve ever seen. It helps they are set against my favourite kind of back drop. Nature at it’s finest – untouched, unkept and empty of tourists (except for us of course!). We also had locals driving past beeping their horns and willing us to carry on. God knows where they were going or had been at this time in the morning, but they were so good at breaking the monotony of walking alone and brought a great smile to my face.
So 4am and we hit 24km and I started to get really bugged by the fact we were walking 26miles, but they’d put markers at every kilometre. Every now and again I’d forget and think we were almost done to realise we’d only walked half the distance I thought! It was about this time in the night the cold and wind really hit us. I looked back at the snap chat video (<– watch here) at 4.25am and couldn’t hear a thing. Hood was up, wind was howling and I had wet ankles! By the way this was of course due to the rain and nothing at all to do with me having an emergency wee at the side of the road amongst high winds! As if I would!!!!
As we headed into 5am it was by far the most hilarious hour of the walk. Our ‘striding’ pace had meant we’d overtaken the ‘slow’ group, but we hadn’t caught up with the ‘fast group’ (one girl did it in 5hours!). This meant we’d been walking alone since around 2am and hysteria had very much started to set in. Our legs were hurting and laughing at ourselves being in the middle of nowhere walking around the ‘Lake of the midges’ in the middle of the night seemed like the only sane thing to do. Mum was getting ‘pissed off’ with snapchat and my camera antics and asked repeatedly “Why am I doing this??”. It soon wore off when we kept putting one foot in front of the other for strava to keep telling us our pace had slowed! (If you are watching the video, excuse the language). This was by far the worst hour of them all. We were getting really tired and the less said about the laxatives I’d taken the night before the better!!!!
By 6am we were on the home straight and boy was it a straight. We could see a couple of people in front of us so we knew we’d managed to catch up a little bit, but every time they rounded a corner and we thought that must be the finish line – it wasn’t! We did eventually make it to the finish line to be greeted by a couple of pink flags and disappointment there wasn’t a band or fanfare to congratulate us. We hovered around for a while before the realisation came to us… that mile we’d walked to the start line now needed walking back to get our breakfast – ARGHHHHHHHHHHHH Mum just about had a hissy fit and I won’t repeat the words that came from her mouth. Anyway, onwards we went until we made it!
We crossed the (second) finish line to collect our medals and I was so proud of my mum. At 61 years of age all she could think to say was “I’ve never had a medal before”. I felt like giving her mine as well. She did an amazing job. She had an achilles injury heading into it so was in pain from mile 1, but it didn’t stop her. We finished at 7am, so 7 hours in total and headed in to get a well deserved hot cup of tea and 12 croissants no less! Mum was sensible and had porridge, but (yuk) we all know how I feel about porridge! Watch the video of our marathon here
When I signed up for this challenge I hoped to raised £2500 as that was the aspiring goal the fundraising team had set out for us. I was sceptical I’d have the imagination to come up with new ideas to, in a nutshell, keep begging people for money. But look at me now! I am so thankful to everyone who contributed whether this was financially through donations and sponsorship or through baking cakes and donating prizes from your business. Everything came together to create a successful fund raising campaign and I know there will be people all over the world appreciating your efforts.
I’d like to make a special thank you to several businesses around chester who sponsored my efforts. These are: