So just before Christmas I promised myself I’d walk home from work as part of my annual fundraising goal. I’d done so two years previously and found that the challenge was a nice way to finish off the year at JustGiving, so the walking shoes were dug out from the back of the cupboard once more.
So on the last working day before Christmas I tubed it in to work — caught up with colleagues and covered off a few emails and then around 1200, changed into my walking shoes and lightweight running gear, and with headphones charged to the max set off on the 22 miles home.
Crossing over the Thames from behind the Tate Modern is a great way to start and interestingly although my first mile was my fastest (out of the blocks!), it did feel quite an age to get out of zone 1, as I was constantly dodging pedestrians or slowed down by a sea of red lights.
Once out by Regent’s Park things got easier as the weather was fair and before I knew it I was passing Lords Cricket Ground and the famous Grace Gate. Stopping for a selfie by the gates was to lead to an inspired moment as around a mile later, at the north end of Abbey Road I was to literally bump into ex The Jam and Style Council musician Paul Weller.
Spotting a moment to really make my fundraising go viral I swallowed my pride and asked Paul if we could get a quick selfie as it would no doubt “help my fundraising.” Paul was charming and only too happy to help despite being parked on a double yellow and with two framed pictures in his hands. Helping him put them into the back of his car, he asked me who I was raising funds for and how far I had to go. “22 miles mate to Watford…you could run that?” was the inspiring feedback from the Changing Man.
Buoyed by this random meeting I proceeded to spam my various Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp feeds with the picture which generated a lot of chat and subsequent donations. Whilst my mum got Paul confused with the slightly less slimline Rik Waller (he of Pop Idol fame), the general feedback was that I was making good progress despite hob-nobbing with the indie-elite.
After that it was into the harder yards so to speak as north London melted into the ‘burbs and finally into Hertfordshire. The Wembley arch passed in a blur on my left and I had my first bench rest around Queensbury. Time to charge up the phone, dip into my seventh or eight podcast, and refuel on a banana.
Thankfully I walked pretty injury free and only in the last two to three miles did I feel any form of blister coming on. To test myself I deferred the fish and chip shop at the bottom of the walk’s steepest climb in Stanmore and 3 miles later in Bushey finally gave in to my food craving. The last two miles into Watford were done knowing that my mates were at a pub en route with a pint that had my name on it. Job done. 22 miles at 4.1 miles per hour.
Thanks to the amazing support from all of you I even made it on to 41st place on the Walking Home For Christmas leaderboard with £565 raised which far out stripped my initial, if naive, target of £100.
I’d really like to thank you all for your support and kind donations in support of Walking With The Wounded. Needless to say your generosity will go on to change the lives of others so on behalf of those servicemen and women, thank you. It is doubly motivating to receive donations as you go when faced with a long journey such as 22 miles and so knowing that for every mile trekked we raised £25.68 makes all the effort worthwhile.
You can learn more about the fantastic cause you helped support here.