Saturday 31st March saw me take part in the inaugural Easter Walk with Ultra Challenges. The event, starting and finishing at Windsor Racecourse saw walkers take to the Thames Path along a challenging 25 kilometre or 25 mile route.
Arriving bright and early, on what was set to be a very wet and dull day weather wise, I quickly registered to receive my pack with bib number and had something small to eat. Soon enough the first wave was following a Zumba style warm up, eagerly anticipating the start of the challenge.
Within no time at all we were off, following the Thames River path, passing Alexandra and Home Park to Runnymede where the half way and refreshment stop was situated.
In the first half of the challenge, with only a handful of walkers ahead of me, we experienced a path that was rather wet and muddy underfoot – at times rather slippery. Making it to the half way point in good time, I decided not to stop for refreshments. I was feeling good, I was feeling determined and I wanted to keep up the momentum.
So I walked straight through the check point, with the many volunteers congratulating me for doing so well and cheering me on.
The second half of the challenge was rather different. Following the river in the first half meant that the route so far was reasonably flat. Around the 14 kilometre mark we saw ourselves having to cross fields that were extremely water logged, at some points over ankle deep. Once this had been crossed, we then had a rather challenging climb up a woodland staircase – something that pulled back my time completely and left me rather breathless.
Soon after this was accomplished the rains came. A heavy downpour that went on for well over an hour as I found myself following the route through residential streets and into Windsor Great Park.
The paths were somewhat of a change from the muddy river paths, with some hills to keep it challenging. Following the route in Windsor Great Park, you had to turn right on to “The Long Walk” – the never ending path from the centre of the park up to Windsor Castle. The Iconic view down to the castle at the far end was rather impressive, even on a dull day. The challenge was to maintain the pace along the 2.64 mile path that runs from The Copper Horse statue to the Castle gates.
After a good while walking, at this point avoiding dog walkers, runners and tourists now out and about for the Bank Holiday I finally made it to the castle gate, rather relieved to be off the long, long path and following the route back through the streets of Windsor and back to Windsor Racecourse.
Rather tired and elated, I crossed the finish line in a time of 4:01. As I did it transpired that I was the first 25 kilometre walker to finish – those few ahead of me where completing the 25 mile challenge.
So I happily accepted my medal, glass of bubbly and lots of Lindt chocolate Easter treats, before having a hot meal that was laid out by the event organisers.
I continued to watch the results once home, as different waves of walkers made it back to the finish, and I was pleased to see that my final ranking for the days event was number six!
To say I am pleased with that result is an understatement – I was ecstatic! The months and months of getting in the walking miles and at times at a faster pace had clearly paid off. Before I decided to take on ultra challenges this year, I never imagined I would be able to sustain a fast walking pace and for the Easter Walk I had done just that. With an average pace of 15:16 minute miles I finished elated and exhausted.
The Easter Walk was the second challenge I have completed with Ultra Challenges, and just like the London Winter Walk, everything from the organisation and communication in the lead up to the day, the whole day itself and the staff was second to none.
With the Isle of Wight challenge just five weeks away I can’t help but feel reassured, despite the nerves starting to kick in, as I know the event will be just as well organised and enjoyable.