Starting at 07.30 on  Saturday the 9th of September 2019 the new ABTA Chair Alistair Rowland an our very own Trustee John de Vial made their way to Bishops park to begin their Thames Path Challenge of 100km. Expecting over 3000 to join over the weekend the start time had to be staggered for those entering. Some going for the 2 day ‘daylight’ option and others like John and Alistair went for the 1 day stint (this can easily last over 24hrs), meaning they needed to be equipped with some very well charged head torches and lots of energy drinks. For our pair, the whole journey took an incredible 28hrs from start to finish, walking for 24 of them at total of 148,789 paces. This is the toughest test of all with a 40% failure rate.

The event comes with training guides and an app to help you prepare, but let’s be honest there’s not much that can get you ready for the 100km to come. You may walk, jog or run the route, as if walking was not enough of a challenge, especially when you consider 100km is just about 2.4 marathons! Our hearts go out to the soles of the feet of those that decided to run it. Fortunately for those attending there are medics, masseuses and pace walkers. I am sure a massage is a very welcoming thought to all those passing by the rest stops.

Everyone attending had a very special reason to be pushing themselves, for John and Alistair it was to raise funds for ABTA LifeLine, ABTA’s benevolent fund. If the sheer joy of raising money for charity wasn’t enough of a reward all who make it across the finish line leave with a medal, t-shirt and a much deserved glass of bubbly!

The event treats its participants very well by setting up 7 rest stops along the way with free drinks and food. The rest stops include Hurst Park 28km in, Runnymede (home of the Magna Carta) at 50km and Marsh Meadow at 78km. 70% of the route is off road, following footpaths and bridleways whilst the city section has been voted one of the world’s best urban treks. Starting in the Cotswolds at Bishops Park by Putney Bridge working their way through Kew and Richmond then past the last non-tidal loch at Teddington. The route then passes the Royal Palace of Hampton Court, beneath Windsor Castle on through to Henley’s beautiful countryside finally finishing at Mill Meadows.

Threats of audio books and ear plugs were given by Alistair to help him last through the journey with John. He also may have been quoted saying “I was about ready to kill John at about 70k, lol.” (Luckily it doesn’t show in the 70km picture) it’s truly incredible they both made the journey back in one piece! John mentioned that his low point happened at the 76km rest point at first light, everyone has a moment where they hit a wall and it takes all the effort you have to crawl over it. Alistair did incredibly well on his first outing and we are so grateful for his efforts in raising funds with John for the ABTA LifeLine Charity. Judging by their faces in the pictures below it looked like a great time and they were well in need of putting their feet up at the end.

It has been remarkable to see John in the office so soon and quick back on to his feet after such a long journey. I hope Alistair is fortunate enough to share the same level of recovery. We look forward to what the Thames Path Challenge 2020 holds, might as well start training now!

See their fundraising page below if you still wish to make a donation to ABTA LifeLine.