In memory of his mother, and to mark his 60th birthday, super supporter Roger Cross will be putting himself through a feat of endurance to raise crucial funds for John Taylor Hospice.
Roger will be taking on every event in the Ultra Challenge calendar – which will see him hike more than 850km! These events will take him along the Jurassic Coast, through the Peak District, down the Thames Path, around the Chilterns and to many other locations in the UK.
As he gears up for this epic challenge he’s been clocking up the miles along practice routes such as the Coventry Way Challenge. We’re delighted to welcome Roger as our guest blogger and to hear all about his adventures!
To support Roger, and to find out more, please visit his fundraising page.
Guest blog by Roger Cross
When I first made the decision to tackle a multiple challenge this year there was one local event which looked perfect as a warm-up for the main feature, and that was the Coventry Way Challenge.
The Cyril Bean 22nd Annual “A Coventry Way Challenge”, to give it its full name, is a relatively low-key 40-mile circuit, starting and finishing at Meriden, with food and water provided at the frequent checkpoints. A local event, on familiar ground, and a good chance to gauge my fitness before my first Ultra.
A work colleague was giving me a lift to the start, and as he had a family engagement that afternoon we had to make an early start – and I mean early! We got to Meriden at 5:15 and I was on my way five minutes later. It was still dark as I strode upslope to the church and over fields, but after half an hour the daylight made headtorches unnecessary and I continued to the Greenway, a former rail track which led to Kenilworth. Conditions underfoot were perfect, the ground was firm without being too hard.
About halfway down this stretch my colleague and his running partner caught me up – they had started about 20 minutes after me – and slowed up for a few words before shooting off into the distance.
The first checkpoint at Kenilworth was 8 miles in, and I had taken a respectable 2 hours. After a short break for water and flapjacks I was off again, over a golf course and on to Stoneleigh, then Bubbenhall and the second checkpoint.
From the start I had been meeting fellow challengers, especially at the start, but these encounters were becoming rarer as I progressed. I passed the lead group of walkers at Ryton-on-Dunsmore, 16 miles into the walk, but was also being caught by runners who had started later. Shortly before the Wolston checkpoint I complained to one pair about the demoralising effect of being overtaken, but they took it in their stride! Their long stride!
The Brinklow checkpoint half way round had the attraction of fruit cake to fortify me for the next section. It was a long one and two intermediate water stops had been established before the Bedworth checkpoint. For the first time since the start I was among crowds as the main mass of runners caught up with me.
At Bedworth I had a longish break and a couple of rolls before setting out again. With most of the runners in front and the walkers behind I was on my own for much of the time. At last I came down a narrow country road and round a corner to a heart-warming round of applause from a number of the runners who had passed me earlier. It was 4 o’clock and I was possibly the first walker home; with a time well under 11 hours I must have been one of the faster walkers. I unwound over a pint and a baked potato, plus more cake, before setting off for home.
A good day and one which gave me confidence for the much longer Isle of Wight Challenge – now only four weeks away.