Let’s synchronise our headlights

I can’t say I was too enthusiastic about talking about the forthcoming Wight Challenge at work today. I thought I had banged on enough about it over the last two or three weeks but apparently quite a few people didn’t know.

It was very nice and encouraging for so many people to wish me well for the weekend – it did mean a lot to me and put me in a slightly better frame of mind. I said to more than one person to think of me, not on Saturday morning, afternoon or even the evening, but if they wake up in the night, because the strong likelihood is that I will be out there walking in the dark, with a head light (a glorified headband with a light attached). That is, unless I am at a refreshment stop or taking a break of some sort. The advice is to avoid too many sugary foods or caffeine in order to get through the night. That is contrary to what I would have thought, but I will have my emergency rations, cereal bars, biscuits etc.

9:10 start on Saturday morning. I am expecting to finish sometime between 9am and 1pm on Sunday and then sleep, eat and probably sleep while I eat. Not returning to the mainland until Monday, so a bit of rest and recuperation will be welcome. Having the week off work should help.

About 900 people taking part, and around 50-100 in each group setting off. I am never a great conversationalist with people I don’t know that well, but hopefully there can be mutual support as the going gets harder ……. and it will! I will just do my best; I am much more nervous about this than last year’s epic. Perhaps it is because I am slave to other peoples arrangements and rules, rather than having planned the whole thing myself.

Wish me well. Thank you for all your support.


Looking ahead and a long way ahead

Slight hobble today, suffering a little from yesterday’s walk, especially if I stand up after sitting for more than 15 minutes. Really not sure what state I am going to be in if I do manage to complete this thing starting in four and a half days time. A toss up whether I will be more affected by the walking or by the sleep deprivation.

Also not desperately excited about the weather forecast for the weekend, unsettled after a sunny Friday. Let’s hope that something changes before then, otherwise I won’t be going too far before I really really regret ever thinking that this was a good idea.

Of course, I will never ever walk that distance in one go ever ever again, no, never. Quite the most stupid idea I have ever had. I may well feel like never doing any distance walking ever again, except that I do have an ambition to become the oldest person ever to do the Lands End to John O’Groats walk. I would have to seriously consider how to plan a route and accommodation to achieve that at the age of 75, but even if that doesn’t come to pass, I know I can say that I did do it once and one day my grandchildren can sit on my knee while they ask me, “tell me again granddad about the time you talked to your feet on the beach”. Keeping the fitness until 2038 is not going to be easy.

Eat, drink, rest and be sensible

Almost certainly the last walk before Saturday’s big one. With the Southampton Half Marathon going on, two thousand doing it, roads closed and whatnot, there was no way I was going westwards today. So more miles in my legs and for my feet in a pretty straight A27-dominated stretch to the top of Portsea Island.

But a couple of late nights and a charity event even after cricket had finished yesterday had taken their toll. I felt today that I wasn’t really at the top of my game and the planned stop in Cosham turned into a quick 10 minute shop and nosh in Portchester, around three miles early. I even thought about just turning back home at that point but I kept on to Cosham High Street and onto the Island. I was quite pleased that I gutsed this one out to about 23.5 miles. Three years ago that would have been an amazing distance but now it is routine, so I have come a long way. Most of all this Sunday walk is a warning that I must eat, drink, rest and sleep sensibly – at least for this week.

Left work slightly earlier than normal on Friday to make sure I have everything I need. Rucksack – certainly a much smaller one than last year! – a couple of rain protected compartments, and a head light, which is mandatory for next Saturday night. Who ever said that walking is a cheap hobby clearly hasn’t ever done it seriously.

I can’t think I am going to do too much walking for a few weeks after next weekend so there might be a flurry of blog posts on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and then silence for a while. Hope you can stand it…….


It’s all about numbers in today’s post. My e-registration ticket has arrived, start time 9:10am and Bib Number is 1434. For some reason, I was convinced that it would be 666 and I would have had to decide whether to ask for a change. Having said that, it would be a conversation starter, though it would sure get tiring after a while! I would have liked my number to have some interesting mathematical property but I can’t say it has. It’s not a perfect square, the square root being 37.86819246. The four digits twice appear consecutively in that order in the first 6,000 digits of pi, so that is more often than you would expect. But, hey, what is this? On 24 November 1434, the River Thames froze over. Now that must have been something, certainly something that should not be, er, skated over. It has frozen over, apparently, in 26 different winters, the last being in 1814. Surely, it must have been close to doing that in 1963.

Talking of the cold, what is the weather going to be like next Saturday and Sunday? BBC Weather……Isle of Wight….ok….Newport….that will have to do…..scroll forward to 2 May……er……not too bad. Just a light shower in the day, maximum temperature 13 Celsius and, most importantly, dry in the night with clouds keeping it as warm as 8 degrees. Absolutely perfect. If only I could have faith in the forecast. I can’t imagine much worse than rain in the dark when I will be starting to get pretty tired, my feet and other body parts hurting. Dark is between about 9 until just after 5. But one thing is for sure, the Thames will not freeze over next Saturday night…….

And don’t call me Shirley

2 weeks to go. By this time in a fortnight I will be aching and sleeping at the same time. This has been a good weekend – I enjoyed cricket yesterday, seeing old friends for the first time for a few months, seeing how some had put on a few pounds and some had lost a few. Probably they saw me as having gained a few and I do feel the need to lose about half a stone at least. No doubt walking 66 miles will help in that, but more likely I need to get into doing a few sit-ups rather than spending all day and night walking. I had a lovely chat with the opposition scorer, who is a qualified football referee and has played football for AFC Bournemouth and cricket to a good level too. She also has run a few marathons, each time beating her previous best. I laughed when she said she always had a KFC on the way back from a marathon, because she deserved it! She counted on 120 calories per mile and so a KFC barely skimmed half of what she had expended. I was reminded of this this afternoon as I saw an offer for an 18 inch pizza. Now I reckon that would be at least 2,700 calories, and more depending on toppings, thickness of crust etc. Add on some cola…… No thanks, not for me.

So, on to my walk today. Through Bursledon and down toward Hamble and Royal Victoria Country Park, Netley, Weston Shore, Woolston and over Itchen Bridge. It was a fine day for walking but the sunny side of the street was definitely preferable with it being fairly chilly in the shade. A stop near Southampton Station and I thought where to go next – since I did need to put on the miles. Perhaps I could go north-west, Shirley? Yes, I could. And don’t call me Shirley. Nope, that joke doesn’t quite work when it is actually Shirley. The High Street there was the usual bustle with loads of fast food places, including the over-sized pizza offer, and just gently uphill until a sharper dip toward Winchester Road (which is a very dull road for walking). This was the turn for home and I took a fairly direct route back via the University and another short stop, past the Halls of Residence, Bitterne Park, Mousehole Lane, Bitterne and Sholing. Almost 22 miles, maybe actually 22 given the number of times I crossed to the sunny side! Really pleased with that and, with the anticipated tender soles, felt that I hadn’t really lost any fitness by missing last weekend’s walk. A suggestion of the start of a blister somewhere near the big toe of my right foot but nothing much. Feet actually feel as if they are becoming more resilient and they are going to need to be that.

But as much as anything else, this is a mental challenge, in both senses of the word ‘mental’. Fantastic to see some more donations on my site https://www.justgiving.com/Keith-Spicer2 after a bit of publicity on the work intranet. A number of my friends both at work and at cricket have said they will sponsor me and I will have some sponsor forms floating around my workplace and at the cricket club in the next few days. Given the brilliant support I received a year ago (I walked the 20 miles from Fort Augustus to Drumnadrochit along Loch Ness on this day in 2014) it feels hard for me to ask for too much, and any contribution will be appreciated. Even some kind words mean a lot to me, and that people care about my well-being.

Thanks everyone.

Cough Splutter

Yep, just as I managed three weeks before the long walk, I have a bug three weeks before the Wight Challenge. At the moment it is manifesting itself just in a sore throat and a bit of coughing, and I thought it wise not to push my luck. So no walking this weekend and probable next time out there will be next Sunday (cricket starts again on Saturday, at least a friendly). Frustrating because I had really built up a bit of momentum over the Week of Pain but there is not much worse than overexerting yourself when you’re not well.

Maps and more definite route information has been released.


Details of “muddy field”, “cliff top path” and “narrow causeway” don’t worry me that much, but perhaps because I haven’t seen them in the flesh. Actually I’m really looking forward to this, though I have a few tricky days, assignments and deadlines at work before the end of the month, so I can’t commit that much time to training. I would have liked to take a couple of afternoons off to get some more miles in my legs but really just to keep my fitness at a fair level. In any case, that is out of the question in the next few days. Friday afternoon? Perhaps. I was watching a programme on BBC1 about medicines and their effectiveness, which pretty much advised against any of the over the counter stuff – not that they don’t work, but a simple honey and lemon in hot water works at least as well, and you are not restricted to how often you can have that, and there are no side effects. That is, unless you are allergic to honey or lemon or hot water. No worries, I’ll be ok quite soon.

Run of the mill walk

Decided today was fit for a not too energetic walk, on a dry day with plenty of cloud around. I saw the sights, lived the dream today: Locks Heath, Titchfield, Stubbington, Peel Common, Fareham, Funtley (almost), Titchfield again……….. 18 miles, and no issues at all with anything at all. Blisters have almost healed despite 112 miles this week and the plasters are gradually coming off naturally. All systems are go for four weeks time.

Nothing too much to talk about today except a general contentment with much of the world. Walking that distance for six out of seven days would not be everyone’s cup of tea but I do find it sort of relaxing and a way of feeling good about myself. Now the clocks have gone forward there is no great rush to finish and get home – in fact, last year it was a source of panic (or at least worry) when I had to find unfamiliar accommodation in the dark. This day, 4th April, last year was the day where Google Maps directed me down a dead end to a quarry in Lanark, and only out of desperation did I give up and walk back to continue down the main road for about another mile before I coincidentally found the accommodation where I had booked – though I had to whip out my paper copy of the booking to convince them that I had indeed booked there. They were fully booked but they had had a late cancellation. Quite what they (and I) would have done if there hadn’t been one, I do not know.

Now considering whether to have another walk either on Sunday or Monday. Perhaps that is punishing my feet and legs too much?