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Spires and Steeples 2011 – Done!

Last night I said that we had finished the Spires and Steeples Challenge – and the Spires and Steeples Challenge had finished us…  This morning I’m feeling achy but not too bad at all.

Do you remember this blog post about our Spires and Steeples Challenge experience last year?  I did the marathon trail walk in 9.5 hours after signing up for it just a month before the event.  I remember it well.  The pain mainly, and the sight of the blister my husband got, but also the lovely route through the Lincolnshire countryside.  For some reason it didn’t put me off – I signed up for it again this year just as soon as the application forms were available – I was walker number 3 (maybe too keen?)!

I walked with my friend Mark this year – our respective other halves decided to give it a miss.  Our aim?  To not come last… (Mark was actually last in 2010, oops!).

The trail starts at Lincoln Castle and meanders through village upon village on all sorts of terrain from tarmac, dirt tracks, grass paths, fields, meadows, and lots more beside, before finishing in the middle of Sleaford.  We crossed two railways (or was it the same one twice?), a couple of major roads, rivers and dykes, and many farms, and had the opportunity to see Lincolnshire at it’s flattest and definitely not-so-flattest.  It was a gorgeous autumn day with blue skies and bright sunshine – no sign of rain, perfect.  It was a happy day in the country with lots of chatter and laughter – well until the last three miles which were pretty silent as the aches had really set in by then!

I didn’t take any photographs until the end, which isn’t like me, but it was all about the walking.  And boy did we walk.  We managed to do the marathon in 8 hours (including stops) – beating our 2010 time by a massive 1.5 hours!  Now that is a good feeling!  We weren’t competing with the trail runnes (wow they’re a different breed aren’t they?!), but as far as the walkers went we were very respectable in our finishing time.

No tshirts this year which was a shame, but I am pleased with my medal and certificate – proof I did it!

Spires and Steeples Challenge Medal

The challenge was very well organised once again, with plenty of support from St John’s, a well marked route, and plenty of checkpoints with happy friendly people manning them… we even had a welcome when we arrived at Sleaford which was nice.

Right now my body is complaining somewhat. A couple of teeny blisters but nothing major, but my ankles are swollen (nice!) and my legs/back are stiff/achy today.  I’ve been walking around the house and stretching a lot to help ease the aches, but I admit that right now it hurts more than when I got up this morning.  Ah well, hey ho and all that – it wouldn’t be a challenge if it was easy and I did have a really great day.

Will I be back for more next year?  I expect so!  Can I beat 8 hours?  Perhaps with some training.  It’s the Walk the Walk MoonWalk London next though, which will be much smoother terrain (all roads/pavements) and so hopefully easier on the feet and ankles… and that one is for charity too (so I will be mentioning it a few more times between now and May!).

Keep an eye on the Spires and Steeples website and follow @spiressteeples on twitter for more information for the 2012 Challenge in the new year, and how you can walk the marked route any day of the year.

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