If you're in the #walk1000miles Facebook group, you either know the name Susan Miller – or you soon will. She's the first to congratulate anyone on achieving a milestone and the last to bed as she compiles an ever-growing spreadsheet of group members' mileages.
How old are you, where are you from Susan?
I will be 54 in January I live in Wigan in Lancashire. I've been reading CW magazine for at least ten years and it has inspired us to visit some lovely places over the years. We love reading all the articles & always check your gear reviews before buying any new gear.
How did you get involved with #walk1000miles?
I saw it in the magazine and started in 2015. By the end of the year I had done 990 miles – I was gutted that I hadn't quite made it! Then the Facebook group was launched and I immediately felt right at home as I was welcomed by everyone. Right from the beginning it was a very friendly group of people who all congratulated each other on our milestones – and encouraged each other when one of us felt a bit down or ill. In 2016 I counted every step I took & was very pleased to reach 3,100 miles by New Year's Eve. By the time you read this I will have done 2000 boots-on miles in 2017.
What difference has it made to you and your family?
The Facebook group is a great way to see the world & it's given me lots of lovely places to visit – it was good for me as Dennis (my husband) was working nights & it gave me contact with other people while I was on my own.
We’ve been married for 31 yrs & have 3 grown up sons – Adam, Paul & Mark. Paul is 28 and autistic – it’s my job to look after him. He loves the walking & we schedule several walks a week into his routines. He has been doing the challenge too this year and got his 1000 miles in the Lakes District in September . I was so proud of him!
What are your stand out memories from this year?
Organizing three meetings for 1000-milers here in Wigan. Each time I've done the same 10 mile walk to find the elusive Wigan Pier. In fact I love all the Badger meetings I've been to and have met 70 members of the group this year on the Helsby walk by Frances Ipson, Pen Y Gent walk by Chris Swanson, my own three meetings and the biggest Badger meeting of the year in Keswick led by Jay Mistry where I had the pleasure of presenting Heather Peel with her 1000-mile completion medal.
How did you come to be the group's unofficial record-keeper?
I like giving out Facebook} 'stickers' to people reaching important milestones, but as membership grew I couldn’t remember who I'd given my stickers & congratulations too, so I started to keep notes. Once I had filled three notebooks I asked my youngest son Mark to set me up a spreadsheet and show me how to use it as he is more PC savvy than me.
The spread sheet now has 27 pages – next to each name is a box for the number of miles done. Any time a person does posts their mileage or comments on my monthly mileage request post I find their name and change their number. All the number boxes are colour-coded so I can tell at a glance who has passed 500 (box is orange) 1000 miles (dark green) Purple for 1500, pale blue for those reaching Superman or Wonderwoman status of 2,000.
Why is it important to you to take so much care to acknowledge and encourage everyone in the group?
Even though there it’s not a competition and we’re only competing against ourselves I know lots of people like to have a monthly mileage round up and to read about the huge totals for the whole group – and most of them have at some point had one or more of my stickers along the journey!
On a personal level it is very important to me to encourage everyone as I didn’t get much of it myself as a child. My birth mother took thalidomide tablets when she was pregnant and as a result I only have two fingers on my left hand and four toes on each foot (not that it’s stopped me walking). I was bullied as a girl at school because of this so as a consequence I LOVE giving other people the praise I never got.
Where are your favourite places to walk and why?
The Lake District – we go as often as money allows and have climbed about 30 Wainwrights over the years. But by far the majority of my walks have been wearing away the towpath on the Leeds & Liverpool canal which is two minutes away from our house.
You don't mind continuing to do this, even as the group grows and grows?
I know it could probably be automated somehow, but I would be very upset if it happened! I LOVE doing it & will continue as long as I am able. Please can I take this time to also say a Huge THANK YOU to my chickens (helpers) – about 30 members now are tagging me into other posts in the group just so I don’t miss any when I am concentrating on the number crunching each month – I call them all my Chicks & they call me Mother Hen and it means a lot to me.