"Each step forward has a sacred meaning of its own"   Sri Chinmoy

12 Hour Relay Walk - April 12th 2020

April 12th is the day of our 12 hour walking race every year, but the Covid-19 lockdown meant that in 2020 we were all isolated at home instead of setting up the race in New York. The event is very attritional physically if you haven't prepared with some walk-specific training so had I been in NYC I would probably not have taken part. 12 hours of walking was one of the things that first set my dodgy achilles tendon off, and it's plagued me ever since!

Then someone (may have been Jana and Petra, not sure) came up with the idea of a 12 hour relay walk that we could all complete sole - 1 hour each in most cases though a few did go further. I signed up for a vacant one hour slot in the afternoon and warmed up for 20 minutes to make sure I could go flat out. I looked through my race history and found that I once completed 53.75 miles on the circuit around Jamaica Track / High School but that was many years ago - around 2000 maybe or late nineties. I was determined to at least match the pace I was able to walk at then, albeit only for an hour. With my legs warmed up and a target set, I headed off into the April sunshine on legs very unused to fast walking.

My route took me up the A38 - the pavement usually noisy and thick with traffic fumes but now quiet and clear - past Gypsy Patch Lane (now closed while they fix the railway bridge) and then on to the paths behind Patchway Station. The first mile came up in just under 12 minutes and I raised my sights a little, thinking I might walk 5 miles in the hour - definitely a PB! Keeping that effort level going was hard but my body seemed to be managing it OK. If you have never tried walking flat out, give it a go - keeping up that jogging pace is not so easy. Pace dipped slightly as I went up and over the narrow pedestrian bridge and into Little Stoke Park - I was detouring over the grass to stay the mandatory 2 metres away from everyone else - walkers, joggers, stand-arounders, skaters, mostly dog walkers. I started to warm up and feel confident I would hit the target of 5 miles. Crossing roads meant slowing down but fortunately there was hardly any traffic. I stayed on the road instead of taking paths as I usually would alongside the railway, and that seemed to help keep the pace up. I looped through the park on a cycleway briefly, doubling back on myself, not wanting to run out of road as I approached home and have to throw in endless laps of the block.

The sun was bright and the day was beautiful - I was part of a team event - I had a tough target to strive for. Not bad for lockdown!

When I got to my corner of Filton I had to detour slightly through the backstreets to make up the distance but this was all still flat and easy going - I was walking in the road as the pavements were a bit narrow for racing, again the lack of traffic was working in my favour.

I finished with a joyful 5.28 miles, a one hour walk PB, and sent my photo in to Devashishu who was keeping tabs on the whole thing. I don't think anyone else was "racing" as such but that's what gave me joy. That's what helped to make it no ordinary walk.

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