Category Archives: Miscellaneous

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.

 

Richard

2016 report card and plans for 2017

I’ve been thinking about the year that has just finished and how I would rate it if I was writing my school report card.  Would I give myself an ‘A’, an ‘E’ or something in between?

NZ 500km race-walking record holder - Richard McChesney
Me after breaking the NZ 500km record at Privas in October

On the positive side, my 2016 highlights included:

  • My circumnavigation of the M25 motorway in March.
    To my knowledge I am only the third person to circumnavigate the M25 on foot, and I’m the fastest.
  • The Continental Centurions Race in May.
    I broke the New Zealand 100 mile record and also bettered the official NZ 24 hour record – both of which have been goals since I first started race-walking in 2012.
  • My second Grand Union Canal Race, also in May.
    36 ½ hours on my feet without sitting down once. Great mental training, and 6 ½ hours faster than last year.
  • Walking the District Tube Line in July.
    My birthday treat. A fun walk on a beautiful summer’s day.
  • Walking the Monopoly Board in July.
    Another fun walk a few days after my District Line walk.
  • The UK Centurions Race in August.
    More than just a race, I used this weekend as training towards my upcoming 6 day race and walked 125km from Leeds to Redcar the day beforehand.
  • The 6 Jours de France in October.
    My main focus for the year, I walked 614km in six days, narrowly missing out on the NZ and Commonwealth record, but successfully breaking the NZ 500km record along the way.
  • And many other training walks during the year.
    I love training. In fact I would say that I am addicted to it.
    I covered over 2,500 miles in training for the first time ever – 4,100 km/ 2,548 miles to be exact.  In total I did 201 walks on 146 days, taking 624 hours.  And I loved almost every minute of it.
  • Improved diet, sleep and general health
    With my focus on the 6 day race in October I also took steps to improve my general health which I wrote about in each of my monthly training reviews from January up until the race in October.
  • Friends
    And as would be expected in the friendly race-walking and ultra-running communities, I enjoyed the friendship of many new and old friends from all around the world.

So based on all of that, you might think I would give myself a report card rating of an ‘A’ or even an ‘A+’.

But to be honest, I don’t think I did as well as I could/should have.  In fact, when I look back at my big walks from 2016, I keep seeing one common failing:

  • My circumnavigation of the M25 motorway
    I lacked the mental toughness to complete my goal of walking the 265 km / 165 mile route non-stop. At the time I blamed the weather (it was extremely cold at night), but when things began to get hard, rather than pushing through, I gave up.
    I went back and finished the job after a 36 hour rest, but I’m not happy with my lack of mental strength, my lack of will-power.
    I will give myself a ‘C+’ for this walk.  A pass mark, but could do better.
  • The Continental Centurions Race
    I might be a bit hard on myself here, but I think I could have done better. There were a few hours in the middle where I lost time, and after I finished the 100 miles (my first of two goals) I slowed over the last three hours when I should have pushed on at the same pace I had been walking earlier.
    I’ll give myself a ‘B’ for this race, but again, mental strength was below expectation.
  • Th Grand Union Canal Race
    Again, maybe I’m being too hard on myself, but after walking the first 100 miles in a little under 24 hours, I struggled mentally on the second day. I think I can cover the last 45 miles at least an hour faster by staying focussed, so I will give myself a ‘B’ for this race too.
  • The UK Centurions Race
    This race was to be a training event in the lead-up to the 6 day race and I expected to walk at least 85 miles (135km) in 24 hours during the race, after walking from Leeds to Redcar the day beforehand. And I thought I might even be able to manage to complete the whole 100 miles within 24 hours if I had a good day.
    But I struggled both mentally and with tiredness and only managed 100km before stopping after 22 hours.
    I don’t think this walk was good enough for a pass mark, so give myself a ‘C-‘ as a ‘D’ is possibly a bit harsh given that I had to walk 10 miles further than planned on the Friday.
  • The 6 Jours de France
    Before the race I said that my absolute minimum distance to get a pass mark was 622km (386 miles) which would have beaten the NZ and Commonwealth records, and before the race I thought I could walk 700km in six days.
    So based on that, I failed. The reason I ‘failed’ was because I lacked the mental strength I needed to achieve the goals I had set myself.  I fell apart, especially on the last day.  But I finished, and finished strongly with an incredible last three laps.  The bad weather during the first three days of the race didn’t help me either.  I also broke the NZ 500km record, so am happy to give myself a ‘C’ for this race.

And therefore overall, I think that my 2016 year rates as a ‘C’ or ‘C+’ on the report card.  General comment: “Performed well but lacked the mental strength when needed. Expect better next year.”

The rewards of my year.  From left to right: two cups and badge from Continental Centurions Race, Medal from GUCR, medal and cup from 6 day race
The rewards of my year. From left to right: two cups and badge from Continental Centurions Race, Medal from GUCR, medal and cup from 6 day race

2017:

I have to work on the mental strength.  I think a part of that will come from seeing a sports phycologist which is something I have been thinking about for a while, but I think the other issue is that I don’t train hard enough.  I do the occasional interval session but most of my training is at a steady pace, and whilst that is good for building endurance, I never finish a training session thinking that I couldn’t walk another step.  In 2017, it is time for me to step it up a level.

Goals for 2017:

I feel that I have unfinished business after 2016, and 2017 is going to be all about finishing what I started in 2016:

  • NZ 24 hour record
    At this stage I am thinking of racing the Bourges 24 hour race in early March. The goal is to walk 24 hours without any lapse in concentration.  If I do that, then something around 190km is a strong possibility.  I need to at least beat the official NZ record of 182.65km.  I walked 182.95km at Schiedam in May.
  • M25 circumnavigation
    I’m not yet 100% certain when I am going to do this, but I think mid-April will be ideal. The goal is to walk the 165 miles non-stop, without even sitting down once, and in under 48 hours.  That was my 2016 goal, and in 2017 I will do it!
    I’m also going to use this as my annual charity fundraising walk.
  • 700km in 6 days
    The 6 Jours de France has been moved forward to the end of August in the hope of better weather. I learnt so much in the 2016 race, and still believe that I am capable of walking 700km in six days with the help of a great support crew (which I had in 2016), better weather, improved mental strength, and an improved training schedule.

If I can achieve all of those I will be happy.  I’ve got a few other races planned for 2017, but the above three events are my main goals.

Thank you for your support this year:

I have received plenty of support from people this year as I have chased my goals.  Whether it is the comments on facebook, the comments on some of my blog posts, or the occasional email I’ve received, thanks to everyone who has helped me this year.

I especially want to think my family, the support crew I have had at various events this year, Shaun Lightman who has been giving me advice on walking technique, and both Fitbit and Strictly Banners.  Without you, I would not have achieved anywhere near as much as I did in 2016.

 

Richard

M25 circumnavigation for Sport Relief – supported by Fitbit

sprt_relief_logo fitbit_logo
Track my M25 walk live
Click this map to track my live progress on Friday 11th to Sunday 13th March

I’m raising money for Sport Relief and every pound helps.  Please visit my Sport Relief donation page to donate.  Just £1 is all you need to donate.  It will make a difference!

And if you make a donation you can also enter my competition to guess how many steps my walk will take, and the closest guess wins a brand new Fitbit Surge!  See details below.

About the Walk:

Starting on the afternoon of Friday 11th March I will be walking approximately 165 miles non-stop to circumnavigate the parameter of the M25 motorway in an effort to raise £5,000 for Sport Relief* and become the first person to complete a lap of the M25 non-stop on foot.

fitbit_surge
Fitbit Surge

 

And thanks to Fitbit UK, I am able to offer you the opportunity to win a Fitbit Surge (valued at £199) by guessing how many steps my walk will take me.

 

 

My M25 circumnavigation planned route
Planned route (click to view larger image)

My plan is to start the walk on the western side of the Dartford Bridge and to follow the A and B roads on a clockwise route that will take me through Reigate and Leatherhead and then up past Windsor, around the top of the M25 past St Albans and Potters Bar, and then back down past Brentwood to finish back at the eastern side of the Dartford Bridge (there is no pedestrian access to the bridge itself) on the Sunday morning or afternoon.  I’m intending to complete the whole walk without stopping for anything other the occasional toilet break – and to walk the Black Park parkrun in Windsor at 9am on Saturday morning (adding an additional 5 kilometres to my journey).

Make a donation, guess how many steps I will take, and WIN!

My goal is to raise £5,000 for Sport Relief, so please donate to this worthwhile cause (link to my donation page is below), and complete the details below to win a Fitbit Surge:

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)
I will not send you any spam email or disclose your email address to any other third party

How many steps do you think I will take during my M25 circumnavigation? (required)

In the event of a tie, the person who has the closest guess to my total time will be the winner. How long do you think the approximately 165 mile walk will take me? (required)
Hours: Minutes Seconds:

Please click here to open the Sport Relief donation page (it will open in a new window), enter your donation details and then enter the 'donation transaction ID' (which is displayed when you complete your donation) here (required)

Additional Message

Tick this box if you would like to receive an email about any future fundraising walks I do
Yes please

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED

The Small Print:

  • Only one entry per donation
  • Entries will close at the moment I finish the walk.  Donations after this time are welcome though.
  • Step count starts from when my walk starts and finishes when my walk finishes.  Any steps recorded on my Fitbit before or after these times will not be counted.
  • The person who has the closet guess to the total number of steps will win the competition.
  • In the event of two or more people having the same closest guess, they will be put in to a separate drawer and the person who has the closest guess to my actual time will be declared the winner.
  • Whilst the M25 is officially only 117 miles in length, the total distance I expect to walk following the A and B roads is estimated at 165 miles (give or take 5 to 10 miles) but actual distance may differ depending on the actual route taken, any diversions due to road closures, etc, and includes and additional 5km for the Black Park parkrun on the Saturday.

 

 

Thanks for your support,

If you want to follow my progress in the lead up to my M25 walk, or read updates about my progress during the walk, ‘like’ me on facebook or follow me on twitter.

 

Thanks

 

Richard

 

P.S.
Fitbit recently published this article about my planned walk on their blog: http://fitbiteurope.tumblr.com/post/138421390990/richards-fitbit-powered-motorway-walk-for-sport

And the Richmond and Twickenham Times published this article:

Richmond & Twickenham Times 19/2/16
Richmond & Twickenham Times 19/2/16

A similar article was also in the Surrey Comet:

Surrey Comet article 19-2-16
Surrey Comet article