Nordic Walking: Up for the Challenge - by Jeremy Cliffe

Up For The Challenge (From The Start)

Earlier in the summer my brother and I travelled over to Nottingham to take part in the first of this year’s British Nordic Walking Challenge Events.  The event was set in the leafy suburbs, at the 500 hundred acre Wollaton Deer Park, with a spectacular backdrop of an Elizabethan Mansion Hall (which was actually used as a setting in the 2012 Batman Film – Dark Night Rises).

Being relatively new to Nordic walking and being in our late 40’s/early 50’s we were slightly apprehensive, but thought we’d give it a go.  As this was our first major Nordic walking event, we opted to take part in the 5KM walk event (as didn’t feel quite ready for the half marathon just yet!).  This was a very well organised event, and judging by the race numbers allocated for our shirts, we estimate that there were in the region of 250 walkers who took part overall in the 3 events – 5KM, 10KM and 21KM (half marathon) – and surprisingly enough there were lots of people up for the challenge, much younger and much older than us!

After a quick warm-up session, the distance walkers went first, setting off in small groups, with a staggered start.   It’s quite difficult to know exactly how well you are doing in the overall race, which nicely takes the pressure and competitive edge off the event.  In all honesty it didn’t seem overly competitive, with most walkers just keen to beat their own previous time from the last event – and in fairness most of them did!  There was loads of encouragement and support from the marshalls and fellow competitors alike.  To top it all the weather was just great, sunshine all the way, but not too hot for the walking!

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A Walk In The Park – (To The Finish)

I led our group most of the way around the park, but perhaps went off a bit too quickly and got pipped at the post by my brother and another competitor, with shall we say, a rather interesting walking style and a pretty unconventional technique.  We ended up 2nd and 3rd in our group and in the overall men’s 5KM event when the timings were collated.  Not bad for a couple of ‘owd Stokies’ in our first challenge and being relatively new to the sport ourselves.  
In fact it would be great to get a full team of four together for an event in the near future – who knows we might even win?  Oh sorry, I forgot, we weren’t supposed to be getting too competitive now were we!

Anyway well done to all who took part, and to those organising and marshalling too – and see you all next time around!  

Walk This Way

In fact, wouldn’t it be great to bring a Nordic walking challenge event to here in Stoke next time around?

I’ve been so impressed with the health benefits of Nordic walking for myself (and others I’ve met and now know), that I’ve decided to include Nordic walking as one of the forms of green exercise for my newly founded social enterprise human-nature escapes CIC, recently qualifying as an instructor with British Nordic Walking.  It’s just so good for social, mental and physical wellbeing and gets you out in the fresh air too – so why not turn your days stuck at the gym,  into a ‘walk in the park’?

Check out the full health benefits of ‘walking this way’ on the human-nature Nordic walking page, and find out how you can get involved locally by clicking on the link here.