Dorset 2018 the write up
This was one of the few years where watching the weather every 10 minutes wasn't needed. The forecast was more about how hot it was going to be rather than anything else. The marquees were needed only for shade and back packs were for carrying litres of water, not the normal waterproof clothing.
The numbers were set to be at record levels, as Ely again filled numerous minibuses, Ken Stimpson joined the walk for the first time and Prince William again attended with good numbers. Unfortunately the normal Long and Hills contingent didn't materialise as they had finished and were away celebrating the end of year 13. This meant the hoped 200 plus, didn't quite arrive this year. We did manage to equal the record numbers of the previous year though. it was also great to see the Ely former year 7s that i taught in my final years at Ely - now walking as year 10s, hopefully a few will feature next year.
As ever the walk seemed to exceed expectations for yet another year. The impact it has on new participants seems to get stronger each year. Equally the excitement for those who are back again remains as high as ever. It is truly an amazing experience.
There are always elements that stand out each year:
Support team - This year there was NO Tony! Unfortunately, due to ill health we had to contend without our most important member. Tony has made such a huge difference to the walk, it was no surprise that to cover the gap required a full team of people. However, there is always opportunity with adversity. In Tony's absence Rob Balchin picked up the reigns and along with Jon and Becky Hutton did an amazing job for team 2018.
Walking - significant elements of this year were:
Stuart and Damien walking their 400th mile. The leaderboard can we seen via the website. Lots of different people are now clocking up significant distances.
Ethan Whales aged 8 years walked the whole walk, all 40 miles! An incredible achievement -if you have walked it you understand. Jake my GSP (dog) picked up the baton from Oscar and walked his first walk.
The heat tested everybody to the limit and those that didn't prepare themselves for the challenge, didn't succeed!
Sponsorship - many thanks to Double G Clothing, Barracudas Children's Camps, Lattenbury Farms, Challenger Trust, Fram Farmers and Greys of Ely for their sponsorship.
Charity - It was great to see Edgars Gift (the whole family), friends of the Harry Johnson Trust (who did amazingly well and raised a small fortune), Sam Jones representing Climbing Out and Julia's House from Dorset who came to visit us with the possibility of developing a partnership.
Random - 2018 was the year of the shadow puppets, the first drone recording, perhaps due to the weather and the students were solar powered, but they didn't stop - the evening brought almost more activity, it was brilliant to see.
Concerns - Buxton and Brown attended from Ely and the rumour was they came as responsible adults - with responsibility for some of the Ely students. I'm still sure this is some sort of wind up!
I know I say it every year - this walk is so much more than a 'walk'. This year there seemed something almost spiritual (I’m sure there is a better description), but it is something truly special. Bring on 2019