Masochism – an interesting concept. The dictionary defines it as ‘A taste for suffering’. Yes indeed, trying to walk 20 miles without training is masochistic. It is also rather stupid.
Anyways, we’ll get to that later. Let’s talk about the walk.
We started with Stephanie, Ned, Ali, her father in law Roy, Gerri and me. The starting area was just by Tower Bridge, and had a number of food stands. Gerri & I had a burger (really yummy) and some coffee while we were waiting for our 930pm start with the team.
On these types of things, the thought of not being able to use the loo when you need to pee takes rather a big chunk of ‘things to think about while walking’. So before we started, we made sure we used the loos and then headed to the starting line. Here are Gerri, Stephanie, Ned & Roy in their starting pose.
We set off, walking along the South bank. Along the river, under Southwark Bridge and past the pub in Mission Impossible, past the Tate Modern, then the Royal Festival hall. Really lovely walk. There were 8 stops spaced out along the way with refreshments and ‘entertainment’, and Stop 1 at 2.2 miles was a whizz round in the London Eye. Thank you London Eye! 🙂 It was full night when we got on, a clear night so the view was stellar. I took a shot of Westminster Palace (home to the Houses of Parliament) at the top of the wheel.
At each stop was a drink and a loo. Because we didn’t know how the next loo would be, we used the facilities at Stop 1. The loo here was a swanky trailer affair, with cubicles and running water and a sink, pulled by a rather swanky Range Rover. No way you could mistake who belonged to what!
It was easy to follow the big crowd of walkers, and we wandered over Westminster bridge, past the palace and the Abbey into Victoria. Our next stop was at 3.3 miles at the Channel 4 buildling where we had a mini tour inside the building. In front of the building is a cool 4 made out of recycled umbrellas. The next stop wasn’t for another 2.7 miles so I tried to use the loo here but gave up in the end as the queues were too long. Clearly many other peeps had the same thought.
After Channel 4, we wandered up through Knightbridge, past the Lutheran Church off Walton Street, then down Brompton Road towards my old hood. That was quite nice, wandering around old haunts. We meandered our way past the Victoria & Albert Museum to Stop 3 at 6 miles, the Royal Geographic Society. The first thing we did when we got there? You bet.
Then we had a cup of coffee. The atmosphere inside these buildings was lovely. Music, drinks, biscuits…. this is what greeted us at the Royal Geographic Society (once we had used their loos) (if you can’t see the video, click here):
The stretch after Stop 3 was a tough one. My legs started to seize up, Ali’s heels started to bother her, and the walking sticks came out. We walked another 2.8 miles to Maggie’s Centre in Fulham where we were greeted with bodies lying on the pavement – some stretching some sleeping. We hit the loos first, then found a bench for a little sit down.
The Centre was like an oasis within London – a huge plant filled courtyard with a building that had a courtyard within the courtyard. I wish my friend Angie had known about this place – I think she would have drawn much comfort from the centre. It had a zen vibe to it, and it was all light and open while still maintaining an intimate, comfortable feel.
By this point I was limping a little and starting to feel my legs. My feet were fine, but my muscles definitely were having some words with me. We hit the 9 mile marker. Then we hit Stop 5, Fulham Palace at 10 miles.
By this time it was about 330 am. Fulham Palace was a loo stop, a stop for oranges, a stop to massage my feet as they were starting to get sore. A stop for attending to blisters (Stephanie), for changing socks (Ali & Roy). I wasn’t doing so hot by this point. Leg muscles ratcheting up the scolding to a screaming fit. We walked a couple more miles and my muscles decided that they weren’t going to play ball anymore and I had to pull out. 😦 David very kindly came to pick me up along the Kings Road. I left Gerri Roy Ned & Stephanie still going strong but Ali was fading – she had become very quiet at Maggie’s and we were worried. She did a charity hike a few months ago and her feet simply went kaput, all the capillaries exploding.
Ali had to pull out at the next stop (Battersea Power Station) with exploding feet. But Gerri, Stephanie (how could I forget you? I’m so sorry. I blame lack of sleep!) Ned & Roy kept on, and successfully passed the finish line around 830 this morning. They had a medal and a bacon sandwich waiting for them. At the finish, Gerri tweeted ‘I’ve been walking for about 41 years in ny life and I think I can say I never want to walk again”. LOL. I’m sure she’ll be fine – am sooo impressed with their feat. And feet. I think they did a brilliant job. Ali & I will give it another go next year (right Ali?) and B I’m taking you upon on your offer!! This time, I will train for it! Because it really is the most amazing feeling, being awake at 4 am with 2000 other people hanging out in these cool venues all for the same end goal. And a really nice way to spend 8 hours – walking and chatting, and later on, hobbling and grunting, with good friends.
So what have I learned? A few things: 1) walking without training is stupid. 2) If there is a possibility that I won’t be able to use a loo for more than an hour, I will use every one I pass. and 3) Some people will do just about anything for a bacon sarnie.