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Friday, 22 August 2014

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I’ve got nothing but respect for everyone

EVENING Mail editor and publisher JONATHAN LEE completed his first Keswick to Barrow walk.

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GOOD EFFORT: : Jonathan Lee and Karen Whittle from the Evening Mail team

TOTAL respect. That is my overriding feeling today for everyone involved in the Keswick to Barrow walk.

And I mean EVERYONE.

Only when you do the walk do you truly appreciate the level of organisation, the commitment, the energy which a whole army of people put into making this such a fantastic fundraising event. From the moment we arrived at the start, south of Keswick, at 5.15am (3.30am alarm call was an interesting experience!), to the moment I left the Hawcoat Park sports field just after 6pm, the whole event felt like a well-run military operation.

Volunteer timekeepers sat all day in the most unlikely of settings, such as on top of Kirkby Moor. Volunteers dished out water and fruit from stalls all along the route, including car parks at the back of Coniston. And marshals held up traffic so us walkers could pass safely, everywhere from the top of Thirlmere and over Dunmail Raise to Little Langdale into Coniston, and right through to Abbey Road in Barrow itself.

Then there were the supporters. Again until you do it, you can’t appreciate how the most simple words of encouragement can boost you and have you striding out with renewed vigour.

Family, friends, work colleagues and our excellent support team of Helen, Andy and Bev, giving me a shout out at the likes of Dunmail Raise, Grasmere, Coniston, the Red Lion at Lowick (what a wonderful atmosphere there), at the top of Kirkby Moor, Marton, and Dalton, made an enormous difference. To be right in the middle of all that as a walker was hugely humbling. You really felt part of a major event. From the moment I arrived in Barrow four years ago and saw streams of people staggering up Abbey Road one Saturday evening, hugely admiring their efforts when I found out what had gone before, I’ve felt I should try to do the Keswick to Barrow walk.

Work colleague Karen Whittle and I have compared training notes along the way. I should have known she was fast when it took her three-and-a-half hours to circumnavigate Coniston Water in training and me almost six hours which prompted her to ask: “Are you sure you went the right way?” But nothing prepared me for the fact that this year, the first time she has done the Keswick to Barrow since her maiden finish 30 years ago when she was in her early 20s, that she would finish in eight-and-a-half hours. Total respect.

As for me, I hobbled in at 11 hours, 10 minutes and five seconds. Feet felt fine. No blisters. Endurance walking socks and 20-year-old walking boots did me proud.

Bananas, Mars bars, chocolate-covered Kendal mintcake, chicken sandwiches, pork pies, cake, Ribena (lots of it), flask of tea – eating and drinking at least every 90 minutes – kept me on the move. I’ve got my medal to prove it. The Keswick to Barrow started the year I was born – 1967. It took me to the age of 45, in its 46th year, to complete it.

Now comes the important bit. The fundraising. Together let’s make it a record year when it comes to raising money for good causes. If you go to www.keswick2barrow.co.uk, sponsor a walker, and sponsor me, number 4551, it will go in the Team Evening Mail fundraising pot for the Barrow and District Disability Association and other good causes. Karen and the team deserve your support.

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