The Cotswold Way challenge

Sarah took part in the Cotswold Way Challenge as part of #TeamMungos, in her own words she tells us her experience of the event.

Why this event? Where did you find it?

I found this event via the St Mungo’s Facebook page. I did not realised how big the Cotswolds are, but to my surprise it goes all the way to Bath as well.

This was your idea – how did you get people to join in the challenge?

I made a presentation in our fortnightly Outside In group, including options of how many km to do (25km, 50km or 100km).  Also, because it was cancelled last year due to Covid-19, I included the details they had on the website about how they would make the event Covid-19 secure, to give those taking part confidence.

What made you do it?

I miss being outside. Things such as running, boxing and walking with friends have really helped me with my mental health as a way of coping with anxiety and frustration.

In the past year there has been a lot of change, for example our Outside In meetings moving to Zoom. It was nice at first trying out this new technology – despite arguing with my girlfriend (Sally) over internet connection!

I can only imagine what it like for school kids doing exams from lower-income backgrounds. Also, for those who are homeless struggling to get a roof over their head and food, never mind a computer and decent internet.

Anyway, this was a way I could now finally see people’s legs! I do like a challenge and within Outside In, a lot of people tend to go out walking and enjoy adventures.

I have done something like this when I did the Bristol half marathon and though it was hard work, I loved the experiences and was ready for my next challenge after being stuck inside for a long time .

Before the event – how did you prepare?

I was able to use the tips I picked up from training for the half marathon. I also looked up YouTube videos on hiking and followed their recommendations – walking boots, snack, and exercises. I followed the ultra challenge Facebook group and the guide they have on the website. Also, when we were waiting for the bus to the challenge we did some stretching to prepare our bodies for the walk, taking it in turns to choose what exercise we should do next.

The beginning

When we got to that start line it felt unreal, I couldn’t believe that we were doing this. Our temperature was taken at the start and we got handed an envelope that had our name, tracking chip and trek route with numbers on the back for emergencies. Whilst pinning my number to my backpack, the nerves were getting to me before we set off. I started to feel stressed but after being given sweets for the walk and seeing how everyone was excited, it helped calm me down.

How was the challenge?

There was a time where I was very present and got lost in the moment taking in everything and for once not over thinking which I tend to do. There were some parts where it was very steep and I struggled, but the walking sticks helped me a lot. The staff and other walkers were very friendly and the locals even offered to fill up our water bottles as well! We had banana bread made for us by one of the volunteers at Outside In, (who sadly couldn’t make it) which was such a nice treat along the way.

What support did you get?

I used the active app on my phone and followed the ultra challenge Facebook group and the guide they have on the website. On there, I was able to ask for tips and look how other people were preparing, as well giving me more confidence for the walk. I also used the Strava app – for training, the main walk and, of course, for the likes. I did need to go to the Wellbeing tent at the halfway point (12km) where they were friendly and were able to give me some tampons as I did not have any on me. This helped me feel more comfortable as although I had my tablets on me I was starting to feel uncomfortable and sickly and having that support helped a lot!

There was plenty of food and drinks available for us to give us energy for our walk and a chance to sit down and talk to others to find out who they were walking for and why.

The marshals were supportive as well. They were with us every step of the way, encouraging us and congratulating us as the end as well.  I got really good advice from one of them who suggested I should take my walking boots off on breaks to avoiding getting blisters.

Was it Covid-19 safe? 

Most definitely! Before the event they were very clear with what we should do at stops which ensured the safety of our team. We filled out a Covid-19 questionnaire beforehand and we all had to be tested before as well. They reminded us to wear masks and had more spread out start times so we were not all packed together.

Would you do it again?

Yes! Although I haven’t stopped napping since, it was a really good team building experience and with the same support from the team I would definitely do this again!

Inspired by Sarah’s experience? Want to take on a challenge as part of #TeamMungo’s? Check out our events. 

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