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Monday, 01 September 2014

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Keswick to Barrow 2012 - John notches up 35 walks

THE Gordon Howell President’s Trophy is awarded to recognise a special achievement and was presented to John Falconer who so far has completed the walk a staggering 35 times.

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ANOTHER SUCCESS: John Falconer shows the medal he got for completing the Keswick to Barrow Walk this year

Modestly, the 68-year-old from Dalton, says: “I haven’t completed it the most times though.”

Nevertheless, John has not only crossed the finishing line himself 35 times, but has encouraged countless others to take part, including the scouts of St Paul’s Church, Barrow.

John first became involved in the Keswick to Barrow when he moved to Dalton in the early 1970s.

He said: “When I came up here in 1971 I got involved with St Paul’s Scouts.

“They had teams of walkers and I started walking with them as back up.

“Eventually people said ‘why not get sponsored instead of walking?’

When Scout leader Bob Hamilton left, Mr Falconer took over the running of the teams.”

With a new organiser came a new name, the Sasquatch Scouts.

“We used to have two teams, the A Team and the B Team.

“The A Team was supposed to be better because they were the older lads, but they messed about so much, more often than not, it was the B Team who finished first,” he recalls.

To keep the lads entertained John introduced games they could play on the way.

He said: “We’d play cricket with car registration plates: numbers one to six were scores, seven was a no ball and eight or nine were out. It kept them distracted.”

Latterly John found a fellow walking enthusiast in his friend John Stevens, and together they’ve completed the K2B every year for the past 20 years.

“When the ale was flowing one Christmas, I said I’m going out on Boxing Day morning,” says John.

“He said ‘where are you going?’ and I said ‘I’m going out training for the Keswick to Barrow’. And that was that.”

Training starts with a 10-mile walk from Dalton to Birkrigg Common and back and gets progressively further from there.

He said: “I think it’s a challenge and it’s one way of keeping us fit,” says John, who has also completed the 96-mile West Highland Way with his walking companion, John.

“I’ve got lots of people involved over the years. People need to avoid me at this time of the year.

“I see people in the pub and say ‘Keswick to Barrow this year?’

“That Christmas John never thought in his wildest dreams, he would be doing the Keswick to Barrow 20 years later.”

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