Once upon time there was a woman. This woman was feeling like she needed a challenge. She was suffering from an early mid-life crisis. One day she happened upon the States Island Walk and thought “this sounds like a fun challenge” so she signed up herself and her husband too (who was less keen on the idea but didn’t want to lose face). Then the day of the States Island Walk arrived and the woman and her husband found themselves on the start line at 3am, and that my friends is where the fairy-tale ended!
The States Island Walk
Last Saturday saw us walking the States Island Walk, all 48.1 miles of it. I call it walking but I also went sliding, climbing, crawling and jumping. I also nearly vomited several times. I cried and Mr C fainted. It was a challenge of epic proportions. After the Moonwalk marathon I was slightly anxious as I knew what lay ahead. I knew how hard it was going to be mentally. The States Island Walk takes you round anti-clockwise and you follow the coastline. That coastline is treacherous in parts, it is very scary and it made the Moonwalk marathon look like a walk in the park (which it wasn’t).
Ready, Steady, Go…..
As we set off on the first part of the walk at 3am in the morning we had a good pace. We chatted. Something we never normally get to do when we are home as we are too busy with the girls or working. At one point Mr C even said “this is rather nice isn’t it?” And it was because we hadn’t hit the North coast yet, we didn’t know what millions of steps lay before us! We carried on walking out towards Gorey where we reached the first checkpoint. I have to say all of the checkpoints were staffed by amazing volunteers. Everyone was so friendly and lovely. Here we grabbed some juice and water and a quick wee stop. Unlike the Moonwalk the queues were not too bad and there were plenty of toilets. I unravelled myself out of my leggings and felt rather sausage like in trying to do it. I was a bit hot and sweaty so had to jump around the cubicle to try and pull my leggings back-up. Oh, the glamour.
We Were Enjoying It!
We then pushed forward to the next checkpoint at St Catherine’s Breakwater. I knew that the next bit would be hilly as I had done a 10km race on this section. Little did I know that these hills were just a taster for what was to come. We passed the castle at the top of Gorey just as the sun was coming up and that was a pretty special moment. For a brief moment there I felt very lucky to be doing this walk with Mr C at my side. We carried on walking and walked along the sea wall which felt scary as there was slate everywhere and the trainers I was wearing did not have any real grip. I was wearing trainers that were not meant for off-road.
As we arrived at St Catherine’s Breakwater we were greeted by more marvellous volunteers serving bacon rolls or veggie options and coffee and tea. We grabbed a roll, wolfed it down and took some slurps of coffee before Mr C grabbed a quick wee stop. We then pushed forward. This is where it got dark. That North coast is a killer. We climbed onwards and upwards. Up hundreds and hundreds of steps, up steep roads, along narrow crumbly paths that weaved along cliff-tops and then up more and more cliff steps. In some parts the steps were so high that I was lifting my knee up to my chest. I struggled. Really struggled. My thighs were burning and I was struggling to get my breath. When I reached the top of a set of steps my legs would feel like jelly and my heart would be racing, then I would look ahead and see yet more steps.
Keep On Climbing
We carried on for a good couple of hours. Endless steps. There were checkpoints that I don’t really remember. I cried. I saw other people crying. Then we were snaking towards Bouley Bay and I was feeling sick and dizzy from how high up we were. Walking along a cliff and realising that you could slip and fall to your death at any moment really isn’t good for your confidence. Especially when you have no grips on your shoes. I was trying to avoid looking over the cliff edge and instead focussing on what was ahead. I then suddenly went flying and slid down a section of path on my bum. I panicked and tried to stop myself but kept going down. When I finally came to a standstill I was not happy and I may have shouted at Mr C
“This is crazy. I am not a fricking mountain goat. I can’t walk along paths like this”
Cakes And Tinder
Yet, I carried on impersonating a mountain goat and pushed forward. At the top of Bouley Bay I pulled a strop and sat down on a bench as Mr C continued forward. It was here that I overheard three men discussing what type of cake they would be –
“I would be a carrot cake because I am complex and moist”
I remember that I nearly told them that I hated the word M-O-I-S-T and then thought better of it. They were then chatting away that this would make a good profile for Tinder. Can’t say that I agree but who knows, if moist carrot cake floats your boat then perhaps it would work.
I got up and found Mr C who was waiting round the corner for me. We then pushed forward again. There were yet more steps and more rocks for me to fall over. Mr C gave me a tough talking to here. I had a strop as I didn’t want tough love, I wanted a hug. Finally we made it out of the horrific North coast and to the next checkpoint at Fontaine. There was a live band, toilets, tea, coffee and cake and crisps. Oh I have never been so happy.
We stocked up and pushed forward. It was a bit flatter now with the odd climb up. The paths were still as narrow and scary and I still felt like I was going to plunge to my death. In the road someone had written in chalk –
“It always seems impossible until it’s done” Nelson Mandela
That quote kept me going. Every time I felt like quitting I repeated that mantra to myself. Whoever wrote that quote on the road, thank you, I love you. There was also the person who had decorated a stone and left an inspiring message on it and then there were the people waving from their houses, children shouting and clapping that kept us pushing forward.
A big chunk of the next part up to St Ouen’s Bay is a daze. I know that I started to feel sick and dizzy and Mr C was trying to get me to eat but I felt like I was going to vomit. I struggled and nibbled on crisps and swigged at protein shakes. I fell a couple more times and I got up again. By now we had been on our feet 14 hours and I was the one slowing us down as I was so slow on the cliff-top paths as I was petrified. However, it was only when we hit 30 miles that we began to feel it physically. It was only then that our feet started to ache.
Hitting The Trump Wall
By the time we made it to St Brelade’s Bay we had both had enough. Mr C had hit the wall and was now coming out of it only for me to then hit it. I said I hit the wall in the Moonwalk marathon, I didn’t or if I did then that was a tiddler wall, this was a Trump wall. A wall of epic proportions. I will say that I could actually see it in front of me. It loomed ahead and when I tried to take a step forward I started retching. I felt sick. A girl in an Island Walk t-shirt passed us crying and talking to someone on the phone and for a brief moment I contemplated getting my phone out and ringing my mum. I tried to take another step and I could feel the bile rising in my throat. Mr C told me to swill some water round my mouth and spit it out. I did and it helped. We crawled up yet more steps and then walked along the sea wall. It was Ouaisne Bay where we saw that we were going to have to crawl over rocks with the sea crashing inches from them and then scramble up an almost vertical cliff face. The girl who had been on her phone, she gave-up here. I was jealous of her. I wanted to give-up. I clambered over the rocks slipping and sliding and crying to Mr C
“This is fecking insane. This can’t be right. Where is the health and safety?”
Once we finally made it over the rocks we had to climb up a cliff face. It was hard, so fecking hard. My body screamed to stop. It didn’t want to keep on going and I ignored it. We pushed harder. We finally made it to Portelet common and another checkpoint. In the distance we could see St Helier. This meant that we were on the homeward stretch.
So Near And Yet So Far
That last stretch might have been flat but it was hard. Mr C hit the wall again and I remember telling him how great we would feel when we finished. What an amazing achievement it is. I also told him – “think of the medal”. I’m like a magpie and the thought of a medal was what was keeping me going. I wanted another medal to add to my collection. On the flat we were faster so we picked up the pace and we pushed forward, we were overtaking people and just determined to get to the end. Finally, the finish line was in sight. We crossed it to cheers and claps and I waited for the medal. Something I could have to show what an epic challenge we had completed. On average 40% of people drop out during the race. This year I suspect it was slightly more than 40%. I was proud and I wanted that medal to show to the grandchildren.
“Mr C” I muttered “where is our medal”
“I don’t think we get one” he replied.
“Whhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaat. I’ve just walked 48.1 miles and no fricking medal”
I wasn’t happy.
“They must post them out” reassured Mr C.
They don’t post the medals out. There are no medals. I walked almost 50 miles and I don’t have a medal to show for it. Not even a certificate.
I’m making us a medal.
We deserve it. We walked 48.1 miles I am never going to stop banging on about that.
I’m wondering if Mr C would agree that my medal should be Mulberry handbag shaped 😉
Now I am not one to get soppy and I would hate for Mr C to get a big head but I have to say that he was amazing. For someone who doesn’t exercise that much he did so well. I might have cried but thanks to Mr C I also spent a good chunk of the walk laughing. He was also brilliantly supportive, lovely and caring. However, there was a rather surreal moment where Mr C fainted when we got home. He clearly had pushed himself to the limit and then had a bath that was too hot. Not the ideal combination. Even then he was cracking jokes. The in-laws were staying with us and, therefore, when it came to tending to Mr C I was rather surplus to requirements. Mr C’s mum is a nurse and therefore far more qualified. I’m not quite sure that he wanted an audience of three all gaping at him as he lay naked across the floor. I’m joking now but it was scary at the time. However, as Mr C lay starkers across the floor, he muttered
“Dad, look away, I wouldn’t want you being intimidated by my manhood”
Even then he was cracking a joke.
That’s why I love Mr C.