Sheer determination and encouragement from a walking partner got Alice Harding through a 100km, 62 mile, challenge at the weekend.
Only 14 of 35 people who started the walk finished it and the two Uckfield women, Alice and Mercedes Hall (Sade), raised £1,820.85 for two charities, helped by generous donations from customers at Ridgewood Post Office where Alice works.
Would she do it again? “Absolutely not”.
Alice, 26, started training for the South Downs Ultra Challenge with her brother’s girlfriend Sade, 27, in January.
Both women live at Manor Park and had no idea what they were letting themselves in for when they signed up to do the walk.
“We are complete amateurs,” said Alice, who works at Ridgewood Post Office.
“We didn’t have any idea what we were doing and completely underestimated it. At the time we signed up we just walked little dogs around the park.”
They started training around the Ashdown Forest because it was on Sade’s doorstep – she works at Nutley Antiques.
“The first walk took us two hours and nearly killed us,” said Alice.
Eventually they built up to walking 26 miles in one go which took about 12 hours – nowhere near the challenge of 62 miles which took them 28 hours.
“The walk was unbelievably tough. The hardest thing either of us had done, not just physically, but mentally too. You are constantly arguing with yourself, I want to stop, but want to keep going, but want to stop.
“It was so up and down. Check points were quite far apart at the beginning then got closer together, then there was a long distance again in the middle of the night, I think that was the worst part part.
“I was so exhausted I kept seeing things and turning round, thinking I could hear something behind me.”
Almost from the start Alice had a tiny blister on her right heel. That led to her walking badly and damaging her whole leg so that she was hobbling most of the way. She still couldn’t walk yesterday.
“Sade is ok, she even went to the gym earlier, but I can’t even take the dog out for a little walk.”
Alice is due to go to a wedding on Saturday and it doesn’t look as if she will be wearing the shoes she had planned. An osteopath has offered to strap up her leg, not a good look with the spray tan she has booked.
The wedding is that of Stace, the eldest son of Jon and Sue Gothard, owners of Ridgewood Post Office. Next year, in October 2018, Alice is due to marry Stace’s brother Ryan.
Alice’s advice to anybody thinking of undertaking a similar 100km challenge is to start training earlier than she and Sade did. “The big problem is the amount of time walking takes.”
One of the big rewards having completed the walk was the £1,820.85 for the Anaphylaxis Campaign, and Crohn’s and Colitis UK.