A Message from Zara, one of our volunteers
I have set myself a goal to complete 12 walking challenges over 2022…challenges of marathon length or more (42km to 56km/26 miles to 35 miles). There, I’ve said it out loud now…it’s not just a pie in the sky idea in my head anymore…no backing out now!!
Why Am I Putting Myself Through This?!
In 2021, I became a listening volunteer for the Samaritans. The more I work with them, the more the extent of mental health issues hits me. The Samaritans provide a 24hr, 365 days a year, listening service for anyone struggling to cope and needs someone to talk to, somewhere they can receive emotional support in an empathetic and non-judgemental way. Sometimes, the call is just to get through a particularly dark and difficult moment.
However, all this needs funding…the ongoing, intense training, creating awareness to reach those in need and of course the running costs of the branches and the freephone lines as well. The Samaritans also provide support services for people working in health and care, they support schools, colleges and other youth settings, workplaces, prisons and the military and Armed Forces.
I have decided to do these walking challenges because, when lockdown started, my daily walks really helped me with my mental health. As someone who lived on their own, I cherished that daily exercise outdoors. It became my time, where I could clear my head. I found that if I didn’t get out daily, it affected my mood and I would get depressed and lethargic. Don’t get me wrong, I was perfectly happy and not lonely on my own but my daily walks helped keep me sane with all the madness going on. I’m very fortunate enough to have a loving and supportive network around me who have either supported me or have encouraged me to get the support I need and I thank my lucky stars for those people in my life every day. But there are plenty of people who aren’t as fortunate.
These challenges are all organised by the Ultra Challenge Series and I am taking part in the following:
- 30th Jan - London Winter Walk Marathon - 42km/26 mile - completed
- 14th May - Jurassic Coast Marathon - Corfe Castle to Lulworth Cove - 42km/26 miles - completed
- 28th May - London to Turners Hill, West Sussex (1st half of London to Brighton Challenge) - 56km/35 miles -completed
- 11th Jun - Lake District Challenge - Kendal to Lakeside - 49km/30.5 miles - completed
- 25th Jun - Cotswold Way Challenge - Cirencester to Wotton - 53km/33 miles - completed
- 9th Jul - Peak District Challenge - 50km/31 miles Bakewell Loop - completed
- 23rd Jul - Yorkshire Challenge - 50km/31 miles Nidderdale Loop- completed
- 6th Aug - South West Coast Challenge - 50km/31 miles Dunster Castle Loop -completed
- 3rd Sep - South Coast Challenge - Eastbourne to Hove - 55km/34 miles - completed
- 10th Sep - Thames Path Challenge - Fulham to Runneymede - 50km/31 miles - completed
- 24th Sep - Chiltern Challenge - 50km/31 miles Henley Loop - completed
- 29th Oct - London Halloween Walk Marathon - 42km/26 miles - Will Complete in 2023
I am so nervous about what I’m undertaking this year. I have never done anything like this before and am scared of what I will be putting my body through. Did I mention I have a dodgy knee?!? And here I am attempting not one long-distance challenge, but 12! There are 8 challenges that only have a fortnight apart between each challenge and two are consecutive weekends! I know it will be physically and mentally challenging but I hope to raise as much as I can and it will be worth it to reach more people who are struggling to cope with whatever is going on in their lives and need someone to talk to. I mean it’s just putting one foot in front of the other, right?!?
Lastly, just in case, you can find the Samaritans contact detail on their website https://www.samaritans.org/. Their number is a national number so don’t worry, it’s highly unlikely you’ll get me!