Taking on the Isle Of Wight Challenge

25 May 2018
  • Challenges

Taking on the Isle Of Wight Challenge

Nicky and Kirsty recently took on the Isle of Wight Challenge to raise funds and awareness for Teens Unite. They raised a whopping £4200 and gained a whole new passion for walking together. Kirsty shares her experience from training to completing the challenge itself, and the value it has brought to her life even after completing it:

"Nicky and I decided last year that we wanted to set ourselves a real physical challenge, something that neither of us had done before and would really test us both mentally and physically. We wanted to use the opportunity to raise money for a local charity rather than one of the larger charities, as we wanted the money we raised to really make a difference.  

Nicky had raised money for Teens Unite before and after looking into the work that they carry out supporting teens with cancer diagnosis we both agreed they were the perfect choice. We also visited the office where we were introduced to the team and got to see first hand the amazing work that the charity does.  

Whilst looking for an event we came across Action Challenge who organize ultra events across the UK and signed up for a 106km walk around the Isle of Wight in May 2018. For good measure we also chucked in our own personal challenge to try to complete the distance in 24 hours.  

Our training began in Dec 2017 when we started to generally increase our fitness levels with running and gym sessions as well as getting ourselves out for as many walks as we could. We also had to invest in a few pieces of new kit, suitable walking shoes, a camel back and walking poles!!! It took a while to get used to the poles but after a few weeks of practice we were using them like pros.  

12 weeks before the event we embarked on a fairly brutal schedule of walking training, increasing our mileage every week and learning to fuel ourselves as we walked. The weather was often not kind to us but we had to get out there even when faced with “the beast from the east”. We also had to experience walking at night so one Friday evening, rather than heading to the pub for a few drinks, we donned our walking gear and head torches and set off into the countryside. We walked until 3 am experiencing walking with limited peripheral vision.    

We spent a huge amount of time fundraising, both through sponsorship directly from friends, family and work colleagues and also events. We organized a family photo shoot with an amazing photographer who agreed to donate a percentage of the takings to our charity. Despite the weather doing its best to ruin the day we were able to reschedule and raise some funds.   The event itself was amazing!!! Even all the planning and training in the world could not have prepared us for how we felt when we arrived on the Isle of Wight and registered for the event. The enormity of the challenge we had agreed to take on really hit us and the nerves kicked in.  

We started the walk at 7.15am on the Saturday morning. We were blessed (or so we thought) with stunning blue skies and not a cloud to be seen. The first section took us along the South West coast of the Island from Chale to the Needles. It was extremely scenic so we enjoyed the views, chatted lots and got ourselves into a great rhythm.   We made it to the Needles on track for our 24 hour target with half an hour in the bag. After a quick lunch and a sock change we were ready to head off again. The next section took us from the Needles up to Cowes in the north. The night before we had been advised that there was a 20 km section in this part of the walk that, despite the recent good weather, had remained very muddy after very wet weather the week before. Wow was it muddyl Navigating it was unbelievably challenging on our feet that were already very hot and slightly swollen in our shoes.  

By the time we reached Cowes, the mid way point, we were fairly broken. We had had to tape our toes and heels as they were starting to blister and we witnessed others taking off their shoes and not being able to get them on again. We were aware that people around us were already pulling out and as we changed into our night clothes our aim to finish the walk in 24 hours went right out of the window. Our feet were in agony; we were tired and had totally had enough of the sun. The thought of having to complete another 54km in the dark was horrendous but we battled through, refueled on cottage pie and veg and some painkillers and set off again.  

To our surprise the next section of the walk was really quite enjoyable. We were in clean clothes, the sun was finally dipping and once we stared walking and the pain killers kicked in the feet started to hurt less. We walked and chatted whilst watching the beautiful sunset.    

The last section was cruelly all uphill for 21km - but nothing was going to stop us now. Heads down, we pushed on counting down the remaining kilometers, which kept us going. The sun came up and with it the warmth of another blue-sky day, which in turn warmed our spirits further. The sight of the Action Challenge flags flying in the breeze in the valley below us as we topped our final hill was overwhelming, we couldn’t wait to cross that finish line and at 7.05am we did just that - 23 and 3/4 hours after we had crossed it the other way.  

Nicky and I were completely overwhelmed by the support we received from Action Challenge, our wonderful husbands, random lovely people we met on the course and our fabulous sponsors. In the end we raised a whopping £4,200 for Teens Unite and we couldn’t be happier.  

So 2 weeks on, how do we feel? We have discovered a new passion that we don’t want to give up just because we have completed the event. We have become addicted to getting up early, getting out there, walking and taking in the scenery. We have watched the seasons come and go whilst we were training and we want to carry on doing that. Our friendship was great before our challenge but after everything we have been through our bond is unbreakable. We went through something amazing together and we did something amazing for an amazing cause. We couldn’t be any happier."

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