Thursday, 27 May 2010


My Mum came to visit me a couple of weekends back, and brought me some photos I thought I would share with you.

Dad walking in the Atlas Dad sharing a meal at Dounia's family home, Morocco

These are pictures of Dad in Morocco in 2005. You can click to see them bigger, if you like.

In that first one, Dad's walking in the Atlas mountains in his faithful walking shoes. Dad really enjoyed the holiday, and came back brimming with stories like an explorer back from some undiscovered land.

Mum and I went back to Morocco in the April after Dad died, to Taroudant and Essaouira. At the time I was a little cynical about the trip. Sure, I thought, it'll be lovely to have a holiday, but secretly I was worried about feeling as though I was on some sort of pilgrimage. By the time I got there, I forgot all of that and just enjoyed myself. It was a lovely holiday and it was wonderful to see the places that Dad fell in love with. Walking through the Atlas in Dad's walking shoes was a real highlight for me, and I couldn't bear to brush the Moroccan dust of them for some time after we returned.

I've put a few other pictures from my parents' Morocco holiday (including one of Mum - hope you don't mind!) in my Flickr. There's also a set of my really bad camera phone photos from our later visit.

Monday, 24 May 2010


It turns out that starting a blog and telling people about this was the easy bit of the challenge. Who knew?!

I've just kicked off on the first stage of the proper training, which will hopefully have me walking my first marathon in September. Like a lot of running programmes, I'm meant to complete three short sections a week and one long one, with three rest days in between the weekday walks. In practice, I imagine I'll end up dropping a couple of walks along the way to fit in with other exercise and life in general.

So in this first week of official training, I'm meant to have walked 20 miles spread over four sessions. Did I do it?

Er, no, actually. I walked 15 miles spread over three sessions: a 3 mile, a 3.5 mile and an 8.5 mile. The fact is that it is hard to find time to do this - a 4 mile walk is all fine, but you've got to take a good hour out of your day to do it. And you've got to remember to take your shoes with you so you can.

It's rather frustrating that I'm not even hitting target in my first week, but at least I know it's not due to anything more than life getting in the way. I'm fit, healthy and quite happy to bound from one mile to the next. I'm hoping that this momentum will keep up with me as I start on this 22 mile target week.

More for my record than anything else, I'm keeping a Daytum page to record the mileage I clock up - this suits my nerdy brain very well and as a by-product gives me a sense of achievement on updating. I keep one for another project I have running in the background (my 101 things in 1001 days list) and it's helped with motivation on that too. I love it.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Overcoming fears and feelings of treachery.

I spent over one and a half hours in a running shop on Thursday evening. During that time I tried of a good dozen shoes, walked up and down the pavement outside in most of them, and discovered that I take a men's size 9.5 UK. Yeah, that last one was a bit of a stinger.

I've come away with a very comfy pair of Asics Gel Cumulus 12 and had my first of many training walks this lunch time to test them out. They are a dream!

So, I'd like to thank the staff at Run and Become for being so patient with me and helping me to find some awesome running shoes. Even though I won't be running in them.

My next challenge is trying to fit the training mileage into my already busy week. I'll report back later with how that's going...

Thursday, 13 May 2010


Unluckily, I have big feet for a girl. Luckily, my dad had small feet for a man.

When Dad passed away, I inherited something pretty special. His walking shoes.

Truth be told, I'd been stealing pairs of shoes from him for years (his long sheepskin lined brown leather Bally boots were, and are, a favourite of mine) and I was well practiced at sneaking away pairs of his nice wool socks. But this great pair of Brashers are something special.

Since I inherited them they've been everywhere I could possibly conceive needing a good pair of sturdy shoes. They've walked the Atlas mountains of Morocco twice (once on Dad's feet, and once on mine), got soaked through in the Lake District and, at the start of this year, joined me on a short walk through snow on the Pennines.

But as great as they are at walking off road, I don't think they're ideal for the challenge ahead.

So I'm going to a specialist running shop this week to get my walk assessed and find a flexible pair of lightweight trainers to start the serious training in. I feel strangely nervous about this purchase and almost feel like I'm cheating on my Dad's shoes. Hopefully these feelings will fade once my feet are more comfortably shod.

Friday, 7 May 2010


Dad and Kate Dad and Kate

It's my birthday this weekend, so I thought I'd take a self-indulgent opportunity to introduce to you the silent contributor to this blog.

I was my dad's fourth child, born rather late in his life and quite some time after the previous three - I was his 50th birthday present. I was lucky to be able to spend a lot of time with him, when he was a work-from-home architect and later when he retired, and many happy hours were spent sitting at the kitchen table discussing anything and everything. We shared a love of strong tea to keep us going through the late night chats.

This walk is one of those hair-brained ideas that one of us would have had at 1am, only to discard it as ridiculous by the morning.* Now that he's not here, I feel as though I can't dismiss these schemes quite so readily. Maybe that's why I'm actually going through with one of them...

* We once spent a good couple of hours discussing the practicalities of cycling the end-to-end on a tandem during one of these talks - even down to who would be at the front and who at the back and whether we'd camp or use B&Bs. Luckily for both of us it was vetoed over breakfast.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Why this challenge?

At first I knew I wanted to do something, but wasn't quite sure what. It was easy to rule some ideas out pretty quickly.
No marathons: I can't run. Seriously. I'm such a stumbler, I'd spend more time falling over than running.

Nothing requiring too much kit: I've always wanted to cycle from Land's End to John O'Groats, but I don't have a bike right now (last one got nicked) and I wouldn't have anywhere safe to keep it if I did (see previous point). Dad was a keen cyclist, so this would have been great, but it's shelved for now.

Nothing I know for certain I can already do: I would have loved to do a skydive, but it didn't feel quite right to be raising money for something I've already done. I wanted a challenge.
And this seems to be the right sort of challenge for me. On the one hand, I'm certain I can finish it on account of my stubbornness. On the other, there's the nagging doubt that I might not quite manage it. The distance is scary. Twenty-four hours on my feet without sleep is scary. But the thought of failing is scarier.

Why this walk?
No reason more than I live in London and that I've walked a few of them. The symmetry of 78 miles on Dad's '78th birthday' is a coincidence I didn't notice until I wrote my first blog post here.

Why now?
It's coming up for 4 years since dad died and I always meant to do something for a charity that would help people like him. A year to plan for something like this seems just about right, and the 5th anniversary also seems right.

What now?
Well, now I've got a year of planning and fierce training. I've got to go from an occasional walker to a serious walker, and I've got to do it pretty swiftly. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous of this.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Stepping off

Hi! Welcome to Ward Walks London. This is my first ever post, and I'll be using it to tell you all about the challenge I'll be undertaking one year from now.

On Sunday the 1st May 2011, I will be embarking on an attempt to walk the entirity of the London Capital Ring in 24 hours or less. The Capital Ring is a circular route that runs 78 miles around London, winding through parks and roads, starting and finishing at Woolwich.

I will be walking to raise funds for the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research fund, in memory of my father who died from the disease in 2006.

This blog is my tool to document the year ahead - the training, the planning and, I suspect, the inevitable injuries. I have no doubt that this is going to be the toughest challenge of my life, but I am absolutely relishing the thought of it. I hope you can stay with me on this long journey!