Can it be mid-September already? For some, it means the start of hectic runs to school. For others, it means the end of traffic-free commutes to work. And for Dom and Teresa, it means the London Marathon Walk is almost here!
We caught up with Teresa, who makes up half of the dynamic duo. Teresa showed us some photos of her favourite training route along the Trent and Mersey Canal, so we grabbed the chance of a quick interview.
Well, 26 miles is a long way. Where do you start?
Yes, it is a long way! So you’ve got to have the right kit. It doesn’t have to be new or expensive, as long as it gets the job done. It makes the world of difference - you should enjoy the walking, not just grin and bear it!
So what’s at the top of YOUR kit list?
Definitely my walking shoes. I’ve got an old ankle injury, so I need something that’s comfy but sturdy. Close second, my rucksack. It’s designed especially for women, the shorter back keeps the weight off my shoulders – bliss!
Lots of people use a fitness tracker. How about you?
No, I didn’t, not until I got a Fitbit for Christmas! It’s brilliant for tracking my daily steps, and I’ve logged thousands of steps since our training started in February. It also doubles up as my watch, I never leave home without it.
It’s a lovely bit of Cheshire. Why this route?
It’s flat, apart from ups and downs at the locks, it’s completely flat! And it stays pretty dry under foot, even if there’s been heavy rain. When you’re on your feet for over 7 hours - the flatter (and drier) the ground, the better!
So you know your tow path! And the canal?
Apparently this was the first long-distance canal, Josiah Wedgwood was a big supporter. Shipping porcelain and china by water meant a lot less breakages, he wasn’t the only Staffordshire ‘pot bank’ that set up alongside this canal.
Ok … but long enough to prepare for a marathon?
Absolutely! When you reach Preston Brook, you’ve done the distance. But go the other way? Shardlow is one of Britain’s last surviving canal villages – with lots of Grade II listed buildings to visit, it makes a grand day out.
7 months’ training, in lovely English countryside …
And not-so-lovely English weather! A good day is a dry day, sunshine is definitely a bonus, but it’s all worth it. You meet people on boats, people with dogs, and people with other people – but lots of peace and quiet, in between!
With so much to see, what is your highlight?
For me, it’s got to be the gorgeous flowering thistles. They remind me of my old history teacher, he said medieval writers believed the thistle could help bald heads to grow hair again. Well, you believe anything when you’re only 12!
It can’t be easy, keeping the canal in good order …
No, The Canal & River Trust do a great job, looking after all the people (and wildlife) that use the water and the paths. They’re responsible for hundreds of miles of canals across the UK, so the likes of you and me can enjoy them.
After all those miles, how do walkers relax?
Great question! There’s a lovely family run pub, right on the famous Gritstone Trail itself. Plenty of locally sourced produce, from your main meat and two veg, to a gorgeous ice cream for pudding. Highly recommended!
A real country pub. That’s food for thought!
And Scholar Green offers fascinating history, as well as great food. It’s crammed full of listed buildings, including the famous Little Moreton Hall. This wonderful Grade I listed moated timber-framed house really has the 'wow factor'!
You could lose yourself, in all the scenery, food, history …
My navigation skills are terrible, so I try not to! In fact, crossing an open field or walking an unmarked road sends me into a blind panic. Thank goodness, Dom will be navigating for the both of us on the big day (I hope!).
Does Team OSIM UK have a target finish time?
Before it goes dark! The organisers want everyone to finish by 7pm. And we primates developed good colour vision, at the expense of our night vision. So, bottom line: when the sun goes down, we’ll have to hang our boots up!
A 50-ish woman and a 30-ish man. Can it be done?
No doubt about it! Dom has the natural fitness of youth on his side, I have the hard-earned benefits of training on mine. And we’ve given up so much of our free time … yes, we are 100% committed to crossing that finishing line!
A final comment, for our readers?
Healthy lifestyle and personal well being: these things are really important, they make us who we are. We shouldn’t let social expectations (based on our age, gender, ethnic group, or whatever) decide what we can and can’t do. Seek the best advice, find the right kit, then take that first step. You never know where it might lead …
Thank you Teresa, for that witty update on the training. And the tripadvisor review on Scholar Green. And the history lesson on the Trent and Mersey! To find out why Teresa and Dom are doing The London Marathon Walk in the first place, click here to find out.
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