2017 report card and plans for 2018

When I look back at what I wrote on this blog a year ago about my plans for 2017, I had three goals:

  • NZ 24 hour record
    I was hoping to do this in Bourges in March but after becoming sick in mid-January due to too much training in extremely cold early morning air, I decided not to race Bourges, and in the end I didn’t do a 24 hour race at all in 2017.
  • M25 circumnavigation
    I had attempted this in 2016 and failed to complete the approximately 160 mile loop around greater London non-stop. So this was one of my three goals for 2017 and on the first weekend in May I exceeded my expectations by completing the circuit in a shade under 44 hours.  Not only that, but I didn’t sit down from the time I started until the time I finished!  44 hours on my feet.  And I raised £1,902 for Limbless Association, a very worthwhile charity.  This was definitely my biggest achievement of 2017 and something I am extremely proud of.
  • Walk 700km in 6 days
    In my second 6 day race I wanted to improve on the 614km I walked in 2016 and believed that I could possibly even walk as far as 700km.
    Well I made 71% of that distance. I had a terrible race.  I was mentally weak and in a race of that distance it is more about mental strength than physical.  I still believe I can exceed 700km and will be attempting the distance again in 2018.

So based on that, 2017 wasn’t a great year.  I only met one of my three goals.

But on the positive side, my M25 walk raised £1,902 for Limbless Association, and I also organised a fundraising walkathon for the local scout group in which 56 scouts walked laps of the local common for three hours and raised £2,250 between them.  This event was so successful that they have invited me back to organise a second walkathon in 2018.

Regarding the 24 hour record attempt, I made the decision not to walk a 24 hour race, so I can’t be disappointed that I didn’t reach that goal.  And whilst I only managed 500km in the 6 day race in August, I used that experience to bounce back and have a great race at Roubaix over 28 hours just three weeks later.  If I had ‘raced’ the event rather than starting slow, I could have gone further and probably beaten my NZ 200km record in the process.

I also placed 4th overall (and only walker) in the Dublin to Belfast Ultra in April, walking my way through the field after being in last place at 15 miles.

Two races that didn’t go so well though, were the Grand Union Canal Race in May in which I DNF’d at 100 miles in May, and then I dropped out of my first (and probably only) Thames Ring 250 at 132 miles the following month.

And now, at the end of 2017, I am unable to walk without pain due to a foot injury that is getting worse because I tried to ignore it for the last few months.

At some stage around the time of the Roubaix race in September I noticed that I had a little lump under the ball of my left foot.  It wasn’t too bad and didn’t hurt when I was walking, but it was uncomfortable and over time I noticed that I had minor pain/discomfort in the top of my left foot which I thought might be related.  To cut a long story short, it appears that the lump might be a bursa (a small balloon of fluid) and whilst it still doesn’t hurt to walk on, I have sub-consciously changed my foot placement to avoid putting too much weight on the ball of my foot, and now have a painful/inflamed arch.  This means that 2018 will begin with a month of complete rest and a visit to a foot surgeon in mid-January.

Summary of 2017:

Total mileage: 2,373 miles (3,818km)

Total mileage during races: 983 miles (1,581km) – 41% of total mileage.

Total raised for charity: £4,152

Goals for 2018:

I am not entering any races until I know how long my foot will take to come right, but all going well, I have six events of 100 miles or more planned for 2018 including a big walk to race more money for Limbless Association at the end of the summer.  And I will also be organising the scouts walkathon again in May.

All going well, my plans are as follows:

  • 31 March 2018 – Belfast to Dublin Ultra
    The reverse of the Dublin to Belfast Ultra in which I finished fourth overall in 2017.
  • 3-9 May 2018 – EMU 6 day race in Hungary
    Whilst this is a 6 day race and the course is much better than Privas, and therefore should result in a greater distance, there are no race-walking judges meaning that results are ‘unofficial’ for record purposes. That said, there will be several very competitive race-walkers at the race and I would love to be there.  I also want to use this race to test out a new sleeping strategy that I have in mind for the Privas 6 day race in August.
  • 9-10 June 2018 – Last Man Standing (UK)
    I love the concept of this race. The idea is that competitors have to run (or in my case walk) a 4 mile loop every hour, starting on the hour.  If you don’t finish within the hour, you are out.  The winner is “the last man standing”.  I thought this might be a bit of fun and good training, and I think that I can perform well against the runners in this event.
  • 19-25 August 2018 – 6 jours de France (again)
    My third attempt to break the NZ 6 day record after going close in 2016 and failing miserably in 2017. My goal will be to exceed 700km during the six days.
  • Mid-September – Roubaix 28 hour race (again)
    I’ve done this three times with two 200+ kilometer results (2015 and 2017).
  • October – my annual charity walk
    In 2015 I did my first charity fundraising walk when I did the 72 hour race in Privas. In 2016 I used my first attempt at circumnavigating the M25 as my second charity fundraiser, and in 2017 I again used my M25 circumnavigation to raise money for charity.  In 2017 the charity I selected was Limbless Association as I wanted to use my arms and legs to raise money for a charity that supports people who are missing one or more arms or legs.  Limbless Association supported me during the walk as well with Joel, their fundraising manager, acting as my support crew for the first and last 8 hours of the walk.
    In 2018 I intend to support Limbless Association again and attempt my biggest adventure to date – walking from Paris to London, or to be more specific, from Arc de Triomphe in Paris to Marble Arch in London.
    Depending on the route I take, it will be somewhere between 385 and 430km of walking plus a ferry ride.  265 and 290km (165 to 180 miles) from Paris to Calais and another 120 to 140km (75 to 87 miles) from Dover to Marble Arch.  I would like to try and complete this in under 72 hours with one short sleep half way between Paris and Calais and another while waiting for the ferry and during the sailing to Dover, but suspect that it is more likely to take somewhere between 80 and 90 hours, or maybe longer.

Thank you for your support this year:

I have had plenty of support from many people during 2017.  So a big thank you to everyone and especially from the companies who have helped me financially and with product – Fitbit, Beta Running (Injinji and Ultimate Direction) and Strictly Banners.



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