Clare Jennings took part in the epic London to Brighton 100KM Challenge as Clare’s youngest sister, Julie, has epilepsy. Clare recounts her challenge here:
‘I wanted to thank all of my sponsors for helping me raise just over £500 for Epilepsy Research UK. My sister Julie has epilepsy. Over the past two years her condition has become increasingly worse and last year she was in and out of hospital weekly with seizures. It has such an impact on her life and my parents lives too. Things are more positive for her at present and she recently celebrated being 3 months seizure free!
Our London to Brighton adventure started early Saturday morning. We left home at 6am to travel to Old Deer Park in Richmond. I made all 3 children get up early on their first day of the holidays to come and wave me and my four team members off.
Once we registered there was time for a swift espresso and a warm up Zumba session before we set off at 9am. The first 10-15K none of us could believe we were doing the REAL walk. We’ve spent the last 8-months training so hard and preparing it took a while to sink in.
The first section ended at 25k, the sun was out and there was a party atmosphere as we sat down for our picnic and checked our feet…. this soon turned to grey as we set off again, then the heavens opened as we trudged through torrential rain on route to the North Downs.
Section two was the longest, two 16k walks to take us to 57k and a hot meal at Tulley’s Farm. Passing the 50k was momentous and rather emotional for me. I walked on ahead of my team for a bit and found myself balling my eyes out.
The paths were nearly impassable at some points and our feet were heavy with mud. Also the styles were so high!! We arrived about 10-mins after dark at 9.40pm, the last 2k was through wet muddy woodland in the twilight; thankfully some helpful supporters guided us through the tricky bits. We were all exhausted and slightly disorientated by the time we entered the tent. Thankfully Jen had two fantastic friends meeting us there. They organised our hot food, fetched us drinks and refilled our bladder backpacks. We stayed for 1 ½ hours before we donned our head torches and set off again in to the dark.
Section three took us to 80K. This was the toughest section and I really could not have done this without my team. We took turns to lead through the woodland paths over fallen trees, down impossibly steep hills and pushed each other up stupidly slippery slopes. The mud was so deep it actually sucked your boots off.
We stopped half way to refuel and had a surreal experience at 2am drinking coffee, eating jaffa cakes and dancing to #Everyone was kung Fu fighting# before we set off again. We reached 80k after watching a beautiful sunrise.
The final section was 20K but….. this included the dreaded South Downs climb and another hill that was just as big. My feet had held out fine compared to the pain the others were enduring, but at 90k, and then 93k, my heel blisters became excruciatingly painful. I hobbled along at a snail’s pace to 95k, where a lovely first aid lady bandaged my feet and helped me stuff them back into my boots. The final 5k was long, slow and rather hot.
I knew my family was at the finish line and every kilometre I completed I text Steve and he and the children sent me a motivational text back to help lift my spirits and dig a little deeper.
Finally the racecourse came into sight and as we got closer we could hear cheering and hear our names being called out on the loud speaker.
We started as a 5 and we finished as 5, linking arms and running across the 100k finish line in just over 26 hours!!!
I could not have completed it without my four other team mates, who are four amazingly strong determined woman. Thank you Carol, Kate, Lynn and Jenny.
So thank you everyone for sponsoring me and for the encouraging texts and Facebook messages that I picked up at rest stops they really, really helped me keep plodding on. “
Our thanks go to Clare and the rest of the team for their fantastic support.