They made it!!!! Fr Paul Leonard from St Joseph and St Edmund’s in Southampton, Father Mark Hogan from St Josephs’ in Basingstoke and their intrepid group of fellow walkers completed their incredible Endurance Walk on Sunday 1 May – you might remember it from a few posts back! 😉 The epic challenge involved walking for 65 miles (105 km) from Brighton to Winchester along an ancient pilgrim route.
After a well-deserved short break, Father Paul sent us a narrative of the events! It is definitely worth a read…!
“I write these words while on a well-timed break. It was not just the lead-up to Easter, with the intensity of the Triduum celebrations, that I needed to recover from, but an epic 65 mile, 105 km walk from Brighton – Winchester undertaken over a 24 hour period last week-end. This was to be the follow-up to the 3-Peaks challenge that I undertook last August. Once again, it was my hope that I could also raise some money for CAFOD. Instinctively I knew that it would be tougher and more challenging…and it was! Though it was important to train in advance by doing some long walks, nothing could really prepare me for what lay ahead.
A group of 18 walkers met up at Devil’s Dyke, just outside Brighton, on Saturday, 30th April and, a few minutes past mid-day, we set off on the beautiful South Downs towards Winchester…at a fair pace. 17 miles into the walk, at one of the designated check-points where we were met by our support team, I had to have my feet strapped up because of painful blisters. It was at this stage that we received the news that the first of the walkers had to pull out. I must admit that I was really dejected shortly after when, having thought we had covered a considerable distance, we saw a sign saying ‘Winchester: 45 miles’.
As afternoon turned to evening we continued on walking at a very fast pace (approx 4 miles an hour) and we made it to one of our check-points just as the light had almost completely faded to be met by our support team with hot drinks, a portable toilet, more emergency treatment on our feet and hot food from the local kebab shop that had been ordered on our behalf by the support team! 29.4 miles completed (almost half-way!). Time for our head torches for the night march!
The relentless pace was taking its toll and we heard news of more walkers who had to drop out. We were down to 10 now from our original group of 18. I had been swapping my footwear at each of the designated rest stops, but as the challenge was now becoming ever more a psychological one, I decided that for the last half of the walk, I wouldn’t examine my feet, nor change my footwear, just keep marching on as best I could, trying to block out the pain. I wasn’t the only one suffering; by this stage, everybody who was still walking was really struggling with blister plasters being applied and painkillers consumed readily.
As the dawn broke at about 5.15am, we had continued to make good progress, with about 16 miles to walk to the finish in Winchester. Once again, the support crew surpassed themselves with bacon butties and tea for breakfast at Old Winchester Hill! The energised us for the final quarter of the walk. It was probably only at this point that I allowed myself the luxury of thinking that I could actually complete this crazy challenge. The pace was beginning to slow considerably and as the final few miles elapsed, just placing one foot in front of the other was all I could manage. It was at this point that I began to (very vocally!) challenge the accuracy of the distances on the sign posts. Surely, Winchester can’t be still 2.7 miles away. I don’t know where some people found the energy for an extra boost of pace at this point; my pace had slowed to not much more than a crawl. 23 and a half hours after we set off, I was the last of the 10 walkers to trudge wearily to the statue of King Alfred in Winchester, our designated finish line, to be greeted with a round of applause.
I am immensely proud of having undertaken – and completed – this challenge and to be able to raise some money for the great work that CAFOD are involved in some of the poorest parts of the world. Thank you for all your support. Any suggestions for the next challenge!?!”
Well, this time the word “Congratulations” is definitely not enough to express our thanks to Fr Paul, Fr Mark and the team for their efforts! They have already raised over £2,100 for CAFOD – which is an exceptional result!!! And the money is still coming in! Remember that you can still sponsor Fr Paul and Fr Mark from their justgiving pages – a huge thanks again from us all, and we are now starting to get very curious to find out what the next challenge will be! 😉