By Gill Stewart at
We love supporting our Nordic Walkers as they embark on personal challenges and this year it was great to hear from two Ladies who completed the Cotswold 24 hour challenenge event in early August. There is a growing band of Nordic walkers at this event every year so why not put it in your calendar for 2019?
Read on to hear Helen and Tracys’ stories…………………
I am still on a “high” following the Cotswold 24hour race and would very much like to tell you about my experience via an email as I don’t use Facebook. However, I have a little story to tell you first.
I have always enjoyed walking and for many years was a member of the Ramblers organisation. I thought that was good but I cannot praise Nordic Walking highly enough. Not only is it a total physical body workout but overall has such a great feel good factor due to the sociability and fun we all have together. It is great being able to exercise so effectively in an “outdoor gym”.
However, over a period of about 10 years before I had major surgery to replace a disintegrating hip joint, my mobility deteriorated until I could barely walk anywhere even with a stick. Following very successful surgery in October 2015, I was desperate to regain and increase my fitness levels. A few months later, I saw an advert for a Nordic Walking taster session and duly booked on. However, after just a few minutes it was clearly apparent that my muscles were too weak at that stage. I was so fortunate though because, sensing my extreme disappointment, not only did Ian Northcott suggest some exercises I could work on at home but he kept in touch to see how I was progressing!!!
After a few more months I booked on again and this time was strong enough to learn the technique and sign up for the well being walks!!!. I have not looked back since and am fitter and stronger than I have been for years. I am now taking part in endurance walks, trek fit and hill climbing sessions to name a few.
The Cotswold 24 hour race is just one of many activities I have been able to try that I never thought I would. I haven’t been camping since I was a girl guide [ not going to give my age away! ] and since my swimming days at school, have never considered myself to be very competitive, so the idea of entering a 24 hour race was off putting. When I realised that I could choose when to walk and for however many laps, I decided to “give it a go”.
Thanks to you giving us all a Nordic Walking t shirt, we all looked amazing at the start line and were a great advert for the sport. I am sure that you will have seen us on Facebook. As we set off the atmosphere was electric and as the race progressed, people were so supportive and encouraging to each other as they passed by on the track. I immediately felt part of it all.
Thanks to my team mates Eileen, Ian and Tracey, who were placed third, second and first in the mixed solo category, Nordic Walking has now reached a new level of credibility at Cotswold 24. Runners are no longer under the illusion that we “walk with poles” but that we “use our poles to walk” . En route, I heard many comments about our speed. Tracey was just incredible as she was walking as fast as one of the top runners!!!! and this was acknowledged when she was presented with her trophy. So Cotswold 24 hour runners, Nordic Walkers are a force to be reckoned with!!! I felt so proud to be part of Nordic Walking and the Cotswold 24 hour race.
I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, even the camping!!! although next year I will pack an air bed, lamps and a small stove to improve my comfort. You can tell how long it is since I have been camping. In-between the walks it was very sociable and fun because you have the opportunity to talk to so many different people. I am pleased I achieved my goal, increasing my endurance, with the laps I completed on both days. I chose not to walk at night in the dark [maybe next year] so missed out on how fascinating the countryside looks and sounds, but did walk at dawn. What a fabulous time of day; crisp fresh air with the sun starting to rise.
I had a great time and am already considering what to aim for next year. So Nordic Walkers everywhere, come and join us.
Tracy has always been active but her story shows that injuries can really impact on sporty lifestyles. Read on to see how Nordic Walking has enabled Tracy to get back to full fitness and get competitive too – a great example of how Nordic Walking is great for those who love sport and challenges too
I have always been a very active person, and played most sports. Started playing senior ladies hockey at 14, selected for u18s West of England hockey, County hockey, Shropshire athletics and the West Mercia Police hockey team…this is not me blowing my own trumpet, I am just letting you know my previous sporting activities
This all came to an end when I hit 30, I was having excruciating knee pain and was told I needed knee replacements and adviced to give up my sport as I was too young for the operations. I then gave up sport and bought a horse, and started competing and riding.
In 2013 I ruptured my patella tendon six months before my retirement date from the Police Force. I was in plaster, then a brace and on crutches for six months, and couldn’t walk without pain in my knee. The physio helped so that I could at least bend my knee, but the NHS said that there was nothing further they could do. Due to the pain, I struggled to ride and all I could do was walk my dog
In February 2016 I saw an advert in the local paper for Nordic Walking, with Mercian Nordic Walking. At that time my friend and I were arranging a holiday in the Smokey mountains and she needed to try and get fitter We signed up, and my thoughts were to go and give her some support but as I walked my dog 8-10 miles a day, I was unlikely to get anything out of it as “it was just walking with poles”.
How wrong was I ……………I am now an addict!
My Instructor Ian Northcott’s passion for fitness and Nordic walking soon rubbed off on me, and gave me the drive to enjoy fitness again Due to my knees problems the poles certainly helped to take the pressure off them, I really enjoy the Nordic walking, the social aspect and I have made some truly good friends
Ian started up the trekfit classes and circuits, and was able to cater to my needs with my knee issues. I can’t say it was easy, but the up and coming marathon at Purbeck 2018, gave me something to aim for. Gradually Ian introduced me to more fitness classes and longer walks, to help with fitness, for all those that had their sights set on Purbeck for the marathon and 16 miler in September
Then at the beginning of August, several of us from Mercian Nordic Walking attended the Cotswold 24 hour challenge. We all had set different goals, relating to how many laps we wanted to do We all surpassed our goals, each lap being 9kms, some of the ladies doubled their lap goal, having set 2 laps as a goal they achieved 4, which was amazing The great thing about the 24 hour challenge is that you walk when you want to, sleep when you want, eat when you want, so long as you do one lap.
I set my sights on 10 laps, and having done a team event last year I hoped that was doable. I managed to do 15 laps and walked for twenty two and a quarter hours At the event last year, some of the runners accepted us but didn’t seem to understand what Nordic Walking was about, and others were quite patronising.
This year it was a totally different story by the end of the event The amount of support and in their words “respect and admiration “ “you walk faster than I run” was overwhelming.The one thing I did notice this year during the night several runners actually took to poles and walked laps. They certainly weren’t doing Nordic style, as they haven’t been instructed, but never the less, they obviously realised what we have achieved the last few years at the event.
I am delighted that my Team Mercian Nordic Walking came first, second and third in the Nordic category, and had I done Nordic walking but entered as a runner I would have come 3rd in the ladies solos out of 53 and 23 rd in the mixed out of 119runners
So the point of the e mail, as long winded as it’s been, is to thank you as Nordic walking UK for the concept as without the Nordic walking I certainly wouldn’t be as fit as I am, and definitely not able to compete in any sporting activities To let you know what a wonderful instructor Ian is, because there were so many of us who have been to the events and exceeded what we thought we were capable of And to try and encourage more Nordic groups to take part next year, it is such a well organised event, great fun and a relaxed atmosphere.
I would also like to mention that my sister who is a very keen cyclist, and has cycled for GB in the World Champs in her age category, and her partner Cat who is a runner and competes in triathlons, did a learn to walk course with Ian in readiness for the Somme trip in October. When they returned from the course, they admitted that they had a new found respect for Nordic Walking, didn’t realise how hard it was, and were even complaining about aching muscles when they returned home on the Sunday.
The word is getting around other groups, so what better way for free advertising than to get groups into events like the 24 hour challenge, so that runners etc don’t just think we are ‘walking with poles’
We are looking forward to seeing how Tracey and the team get on at the Purbeck Nordic Walking Challenge Marathon in September – watch this space!