Anxiety is a funny thing and I still haven't quite worked out what the trigger is for mine but I can tell you on the build up to the 50,000 step challenge at times it felt like a belt fed GPMG.
It got that bad that the week before the event I was even wishing I could sprain my ankle or my dodgy knee would flare up or ..........
I just needed an excuse, and then before I knew it........ Saturday the 18th May had arrived.
Now I was pretty fortunate because I already knew two of the people attending the first being my wing man Ben who I had served with and the second my good mate Carl (and his dog Benson) who is my Physiotherapist, no one else new anyone which after forty mins on the train from Middlesbrough to our Start point at Castleton Moor soon changed, we all shook hands and introduced ourselves and were soon laughing and joking and asking the question all squadies ask .......... So do you know so and so and where did you serve and what tours and exercises have you done and before long the barriers were well and truly down.
We pulled in to Castleton Moor at just after 0745hrs and no sooner were we off the train we were heading of on step 1 of the 50,000 step challenge.
Now one thing I have to say the guy who organised the challenge John Beamson or Chief Eagle as he likes to be known is in my opinion second to none the 7 P's that went in to the event pretty much covered everything everything that is apart from the weather.
The week before the event the North East had been graced with blistering hot sunshine however on the one day when I wanted it to be nice it decided to not play the game.
It was overcast and every step of the way there were rain clouds on the horizon, but you know what this was to our advantage and even though it was overcast we all somehow managed to catch a bit of sun, we trekked along open fields along the side of rivers and on through farms and up our first large hill that even a mountain goat would have looked twice at only to be stopped half way up by the eagle who joined us for the ascent up accountability hill and on to the beacon which seemed to take for ever.
No sooner had we arrived we were back on the road again I use the word road very loosely it was more like a gravel track, the pace was going well and some of us were even laughing and then a noise that only a dolphin could make broke the air like a clap of thunder, Victoria Prendergast or Prenders as I like to call her noticed a little baby chick hopping around looking for its mother and Prenders was transfixed on reuniting them both now my fear at this point was our little fluffy friend Benson had also seen the little grouse chick and was going to have himself a fluffy snack, luckily for all of us Carl had him on his lead and after we had seen the Baby Grouses mother close by and Prenders was happy to leave the little ball of fluff we cracked on with our challenge.
The Route that John had chosen for us took us through to our first RV the village of Leaholm where we stopped for our first break taking advantage of the two bemches right newt to their first world war memorial which I have to say was a very fitting place to stop de-kit and take on some water and a sandwich.
No sooner had we had our sandwich and a cuppa we were back on the route to our next RV with Chief Eagle more beautiful scenery than you could hope for and more conversation this time with different people in the group for me it was with Tony who John had appointed as his 2ic.
I found out a little more about his family and his service in the Royal Air force and his future plans for a trek up mount Kilimanjaro.
You could not fail to see why John had appointed Tony as our 2ic, his enthusiasm like his heart was worn on his sleeve.
The village of Leaholme and its lovely war memorial was soon replaced by beautiful wooded scenery with flowing streams and some of the nicest houses I have ever seen one of which our route took us literally right through, our pace at this point had not really changed and we were soon coming in to another village this time it was the village of xxx which after we had walked past the local pub presented us with our first challenge these being the stepping stones which we all managed to get across without any issues it was at the point that Prenders started to talk about food which started my stomach rumbling and after another thirty to forty minutes and yet another hill we decided to stop for another well earned rest.
The next couple of hours seemed to drag on a little and after seeing yet another sign saying Whitby 5 miles our morale started to dip a little that was until we caught sight of Whitbys famous abbey supposedly the resting place of Bramstokers Dracula came in to view and picked us all up again.
We continued on this time with a bit more of a spring in our step and my self Tony and Sharon started talking riddles with Tony's one about a man waking up in the middle of the night who went for a drink and while returning to his bed turned the light out causing untold damage kept our heads from dropping again.
At just after 1730 hrs we reached Whitby and to my horror I had only reached 49583 steps
I was short by 417 steps luckily for me though we still had half a mile or so to go and upon reaching the whale bones my Garmin Fenix5 watch had hit the 50,000 steps and we had completed the challenge.
For me personally this challenge has taught me that I can achieve what i deemed to be the impossible.
I have made new friends and I have now created a benchmark for all future challenges to be based on.
You know I thought I was going to wake up on Sunday morning aching like mad and I did, but I also had in my head next time I want to go further I want to push my own personal limit because pushing yourself beyond what you thought you could achieve is the only way forward.
John I cant thank you and Tony and Robustours enough for taking us on this journey, you have broadened my horizon and reignited my taste for adventure............ for this I thank you.
To every one who took part, you will forever be in my close circle of friends and will always be welcomed in to my home with a "Do your remember that walk we did together"
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