Martine's Guide Dogs for the Blind Challenge 2014

The Martine Brooks Charity Challenge 2014

The Longmynd Hike, in aid of Guide Dogs for the Blind



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Our Story ...

(Picture of David, Annette, Martine and Simon. )

My worst fear was to do the hike in the rain. We had been so lucky while doing the training with just a few drops now and then: the 46 miles Pathfinder march in Cambridgshire then the Longmynd hike course in three episodes and, mid September, two of my team members, David and Annette, and I, walked the whole course in two days. We kept checking the weather forecast which said that we would have some rain on the Saturday afternoon and again on Sunday morning. In fact, we did not have any rain at all and the weather was perfectfor walking.

On Saturday morning, after having had our rucksack checked, and collected our card which was to be punched at each of the 16 checkpoints, the 455 participants started running for some and walking for most of us.

(Picture of the start of the walk.)

Caradoc was waiting for us about a mile after the start, followed by Lawley: two hills to test your stamina. We then went through a few fields and meadows with a variety of stiles and rickety bridges.

On the Longmynd, the ascent was long but steady on a road where we met an old hiker who had run the whole course, twice in one day some years ago. On the way, we met our "support" of Gail, Chris, Steve and April and I walked the last 300 meters before the checkpoint with April.

Then it was the turn of Stiperstone, full of stones and boulders but we managed to complete it in daylight because our head torches would not have been much help in that sort of terrain. The moon rose, almost full, and lit the paths and contours but not in the woods so our head torches were useful, at least to Annette, David and Simon, our 4th team member.

(Picture of the team, just two hills into the walk.)

After Earl Hill and a long road, up and down through 3 villages, we arrived at Shelve, another checkpoint at the 27th mile, where our "supporting team" was waiting for us. I must admit that, at that point, I had some doubt as to finish the hike but, I was over halfway and I could not let the side down.

Up Corndon and Black Radley, like on the previous hills, I followed Annette, holding the strap on her rucksack. As we are almost the same size, it was easier to walk into her steps and follow all her movements. That way, she did not have to explain anything. Now and again, I took Simon's arm, to give Annette a bit of freedom. We all got on exceptionally well and the conversation flowed until mile 35, or thereabout because we were getting tired and we had nothing to talk about anymore.

(Picture of the tired team during a quick rest at shelve - with 23 miles to go.)

The conversation started again though when we stepped on the top of the Longmynd for the second time as the day broke and they all described the sunrise. That was an experience in itself and the fatigue seemed to disappear for the next two checkpoints. The frost made the landscape look like a fairytale and the slippery grass and cattle grids did not matter.

Up the Raglith, the last but not least hill of the hike. My legs felt like jelly and I would have lost my balance every few steps if David and Simon had not been behind me to steady me up. Once on top of the Raglith, we knew we were on the home stretch and I recovered quickly.

I survived the hike with jelly babies, nuts and hot water. Some of the checkpoints had tents with refreshment and lots of encouraging supporters.

What I'll remember the most is the friendship and support I found in my team members. Climbing up and down 10,000 feet on 50 miles for just under 21 hours in the most friendly atmosphere is something I'll never forget.

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