MoonWalk blog 8: "our confidence shone through"

Gillian 22nd June image 13 The sulphur was strong here.jpg

Gillian Beveridge is a prolific MoonWalker – having now completed ELEVEN of the marathon walks run by #walk1000miles' charity partner Walk the Walk (the last three in the past five weeks!). This is her first year doing #walk1000miles too – and she's just back from Iceland! 

Number of miles walked (boots on): 622.4

Days since last MoonWalk (Iceland): 5

Next adventure (Disneyland Paris): 13 weeks

I write this as I recover from an amazing trip to Iceland where I completed my 3 Land Challenge (3 Marathon MoonWalks in London, Edinburgh and Iceland over a 5 week period.)  As I said in my last blog, The Moonwalk Iceland takes place one week after Edinburgh, so there is a real challenge to be Marathon fit again in one week. The support we all receive from Walk the Walk makes these challenges possible and I cannot thank Nina and everyone at WTW for giving us the belief that we can do it...

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My final 3 Land Challenge adventure started last Wednesday when, after a quick laundry wash and re-pack, I flew to London Heathrow from Inverness Airport. There is only one flight a day to Heathrow so I have always have to add on a day before and after each challenge to get home. The beauty of this was that there were many of us staying in the same hotel on Wednesday night so new friendships were made with some of the ladies travelling to Iceland with us. It also gave us the opportunity to firm up friendships with other 3 Landers who we have not had time to chat to.

On Thursday morning we all met at Heathrow Terminal 2 at 10am for the group check in. This is an exciting time as we meet more people travelling to Iceland and meet the Walk the Walk Team who are coming to support us. Some staff we know, Sally Orr is a staple member of the Iceland crew and it is always a delight to see her at check in and get a hug. After some breakfast where 3 people signed up for Dublin Marathon as they love the Walk the Walk experience so much, we had a quick visit to Duty Free for our celebration Bubbles on Sunday. We were very lucky this year that there were no delays so we were quickly on the plane and setting off to Reykjavik.  Once in Reykjavik we were treated to a bus tour around the area seeing the gap where the Tectonic plates are separating between Europe and North America, Krysuvik, Iceland’s largest mud pools (and first smell of the sulphur – rotten eggs).  We were then off to the Domestic Airport and the flight to Husavik in the North East of Iceland. As someone who is fine with air travel I was on the small plane flight. This is a plane that seats 20 people. We were all Walk the Walkers so it was a fun time. Also on my plane was Suzie Trew Foster who has a reputation for fun and games. Not to let the side down we had some antics while waiting for the plane. 

Gillian 22nd June image 11 The power of the waterfalls.jpg

Once at Husavik it was a one hour road trip to Sel Hotel at Lake Myvatn. When we arrived Nina Barough, Walk the Walk’s Chief Executive and Founder gives everyone a hug and we sit down to a welcome meal. The weather had been cold and wet over the week so Nina had to quickly change our excursion plans. When you sign up for The MoonWalk Iceland, you are not just going to walk a Moonwalk Marathon. In the 5 days you are there, you are treated to Dettifloss Waterfall (the most powerful waterfall in Europe),walking up, around and down a Volcanic Crater, visiting the boiling mud pools, a bird museum and my personal highlight – Whale Watching. As well as enjoying a night-time dip in the Natural Baths at Lake Myvatin. At this time of year it never gets dark in Iceland and if the weather is kind it hardly becomes dusky either.

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Friday’s excursions to the Waterfalls were made more exhilarating as there was a snow storm as well as the spray from the Waterfall. The snow and cold weather dampened my spirits a little as I worried that if it continued I would have to walk in my waterproof trousers and jacket.  I have done this before for a 23 mile walk and it was very tough.

Gillian 22nd June image 36 Gullfoss - double waterfall.jpg

Our happy thoughts and blessings were answered and Saturday was a completely different day. We had the most fantastic Whale Watching trip in the morning where after making us wait 1.5 hours a Humpback Whale came out to play. She eventually decided to show us her tail – the shot everyone wants. After lunch we headed back to the hotel for a long rest before the pasta party in preparation for the night ahead.

Gillian 22nd June image 35 Geyser.jpg

And so it began – MoonWalk number 3, the final 3 Land Challenge MoonWalk. We all travel to the Natural Baths at Lake Myvatin. The weather was chilly but the sun was out and the sky had the most amazing reds and pinks for the walk.  I started the walk with 2 of my favourite buddies. We wanted to walk together but also wanted to push each other. They stopped at mile 10 for one of the two toilet stops and I continued for them to catch me up. This week I had prepared myself for walking alone and with the magnificent scenery to keep me company, I pushed on. At mile 13 Nina was there with hot soup, water and bananas. I was focussed so pushed on. I actually did not stop at all for the whole marathon (there is no traffic to stop for.)  My legs knew they had not had a break. At approx. mile 20 you come to the top of the hill and you are on the road homeward. I pushed on at this point but quickly slowed at mile 22 as my energy plummeted and my legs wobbled. Through each walk I am monitoring my food and water intake. I try to take on as little food and water as possible so as not to have a toilet stop (every minute counts for me). I was feeling fine through the walk and had only taken one power bar in stages through the walk with one and half bottles of water. But this wobble and slight dizziness had me quickly shove some midget gems in my mouth for an energy burst. The Doctor on Duty was very dishy but there was no way he was stopping me 4 miles from the end of my 3LC. I pushed on and as I climbed the first of the two hills to the end I came across a new friend Darren who after congratulating me for getting this far told me to go catch his wife Shirley as he knew I was needing to get to the end. Throughout this trip I had a cold and sinus problems so my breathing was getting harder as I climbed the final hill home. My legs were numb but I couldn’t stop so kept screaming at myself ‘come on Gill get up that hill’ When I saw Nina, Guy and Suzie at the finish line I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Suzie was filming our finish and on the video you can hear her say ‘shhh’ then me going ‘come on Gill come on Gill’ I was delighted that I kept my record of a sub 7 hour Marathon (6hrs 58mins) as this one was tough coming so close to Edinburgh and as I was not feeling 100%. I did not remember feeling that level of tiredness last year but I was not walking as fast last year.

After seeing some of my WTW sisters over the finish line, it was food then into the Nature Baths for a debrief on how we all felt. After a sleep we were treated to a champagne reception and 3 Land Challenge Medal Ceremony then celebration dinner with music and dancing.

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This year we had an extra day in Reykjavik so after an early start on the Monday we flew back to the South of the Island. I took advantage of this day and went on the Golden Circle Tour. An amazing bus tour where you walk through No Man’s Land between Europe and North America Tectonic Plates, the geothermal hotspring of Geysir and the double tier Waterfall of Gullfoss. This was a perfect way to spend the day. Our final excursion was 3.5 hours at the Blue Lagoon before we flew back to Heathrow and the reality of life.     

There were lots of tears at Heathrow as I said goodbye to my new and very special friends. Tired and emotional but so very delighted and proud of myself.

Completing a challenge of this type not only affects you physically but emotionally as well. The confidence we all felt after the walk could not be more evident. This year I chose to share a room with 3 of my friends I met last year. This is a massive thing for me as I live alone and due to my history have body issues. I had to be in my underwear in front of my friends which I could cope with, but having to be naked when visiting Nature Baths in Myvatn and Blue Lagoon sends my heart rate a wee bit higher. We all have scars either physical or mental, but our confidence shone through above these and we all took a step further in our life’s journey. 

Gillian 22nd June image 27 A very happy finisher.jpg

I cannot put in to words how grateful I am to all at Walk the Walk for the support, love and hugs you give to me as I complete my challenges.  3 Marathons done and 2 to go.  HUGE thank you to Sam, Jen, Linda, Helen, Nina, Guy, Sally, Lisa, Laura and Richard from Walk the Walk – Love you all and cannot wait for the next adventures.

I’m off to prepare for my niece’s wedding now and to have a small break from walking before training begins on 1st July for Disneyland Paris.

• Want to turbocharge your 1000 miles and have a night to remember forever? Sign up to do a MoonWalk.

• Doing a MoonWalk and want to make your achievement and fitness gains last all year? Sign up for #walk1000miles

Gillian 22nd June image 5 Group photo @Heathrow.jpg