Tales from the Cotswold 24hr race

We love supporting our Nordic Walkers as they embark on personal challenges and this year it was great to hear from two Ladies who completed the Cotswold 24 hour challenenge event in early August. There is a growing band of Nordic walkers at this event every year so why not put it in your calendar for 2019?

Read on to hear Helen and Tracys’ stories…………………

Helen celebrates with her medal!

I am still on a “high” following the Cotswold 24hour race and would very much like to tell you about my experience via an email as I don’t use Facebook. However, I have a little story to tell you first.

I have always enjoyed walking and for many years was a member of the Ramblers organisation. I thought that was good but I cannot praise Nordic Walking highly enough. Not only is it a total physical body workout but overall has such a great feel good factor due to the sociability and fun we all have together. It is great being able to exercise so effectively in an “outdoor gym”. 

 However, over a period of about 10 years before I had major surgery to replace a disintegrating hip joint, my mobility deteriorated until I could barely walk anywhere even with a stick. Following very successful surgery in October 2015, I was desperate to regain and increase my fitness levels. A few months later, I  saw an advert for a Nordic Walking taster session and duly booked on. However, after just a few minutes it was clearly apparent that my muscles were too weak at that stage.  I was so fortunate though because, sensing my extreme disappointment, not only did Ian Northcott  suggest some exercises I could work on at home but he kept in touch to see how I was progressing!!! 

After a few more months I booked on again  and this time was strong enough to learn the technique and sign up for the well being walks!!!. I have not looked back since and am fitter and stronger than I have been for years. I am now taking part in endurance walks, trek fit and hill climbing sessions to name a few.

The Cotswold 24 hour race is just one of many activities I have been able to try that I never thought I would. I haven’t been camping since I was a girl guide [ not going to give my age away! ] and since my swimming days at school, have never considered myself to be very competitive, so the idea of entering a 24 hour race was off putting. When I realised that I could choose when to walk and for however many  laps, I decided to “give it a go”.

 Thanks to you giving us all a Nordic Walking t shirt, we all looked amazing at the start line and were a great advert for the sport. I am sure that you will have seen us on Facebook. As we set off the atmosphere was electric and as the race progressed, people were so supportive and encouraging to each other as they passed by on the track. I immediately felt part of it all.

Thanks to my team mates Eileen, Ian and Tracey, who were placed third, second and first in the mixed solo category, Nordic Walking has now reached a new level of credibility at Cotswold 24. Runners are no longer under the illusion that we “walk with poles” but that we “use our poles to walk” . En route, I heard many comments about our speed. Tracey was just incredible as she was walking as fast as one of the top runners!!!! and this was acknowledged when she was presented with her trophy. So Cotswold 24 hour runners, Nordic Walkers are a force to be reckoned with!!!  I felt so proud to be part of Nordic Walking and the Cotswold 24 hour race.

I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, even the camping!!! although next year I will pack an air bed, lamps and a small stove to improve my comfort. You can tell how long it is since I have been camping.  In-between the walks it was very sociable and fun because you have the opportunity to talk to so many different people. I am pleased I achieved my goal, increasing my endurance, with the laps I completed on both days.  I chose not to walk at night in the dark [maybe next year] so missed out on how fascinating the countryside looks and sounds, but did walk at dawn. What a fabulous time of day; crisp fresh air with the sun starting to rise. 

I had a great time and am already considering what to aim for next year. So Nordic Walkers everywhere, come and join us.

Helen Chambers

Tracy Larvin completed 15 laps and walked for 22.5 hours!

Tracy has always been active but her story shows that injuries can really impact on sporty lifestyles. Read on to see how Nordic Walking has enabled Tracy to get back to full fitness and get competitive too – a great example of how Nordic Walking is great for those who love sport and challenges too

I have always been a very active person, and played most sports. Started playing senior ladies hockey at 14, selected for u18s West of England hockey, County hockey, Shropshire athletics and the West Mercia Police hockey team…this is not me blowing my own trumpet, I am just letting you know my previous sporting activities

This all came to an end when I hit 30, I was having excruciating knee pain and was told I needed knee replacements and adviced to give up my sport as I was too young for the operations. I then gave up sport and bought a horse, and started competing and riding.

In 2013 I ruptured my patella tendon six months before my retirement date from the Police Force. I was in plaster, then a brace and on crutches for six months, and couldn’t walk without pain in my knee. The physio helped so that I could at least bend my knee, but the NHS said that there was nothing further they could do. Due to the pain, I struggled to ride and all I could do was walk my dog

In February 2016 I saw an advert in the local paper for Nordic Walking, with Mercian Nordic Walking. At that time my friend and I were arranging a holiday in the Smokey mountains and she needed to try and get fitter We signed up, and my thoughts were to go and give her some support but as I walked my dog 8-10 miles a day, I was unlikely to get anything out of it as “it was just walking with poles”.

How wrong was I ……………I am now an addict!

My Instructor Ian Northcott’s passion for fitness and Nordic walking soon rubbed off on me, and gave me the drive to enjoy fitness again Due to my knees problems the poles certainly helped to take the pressure off them, I really enjoy the Nordic walking, the social aspect and I have made some truly good friends

Ian started up the trekfit classes and circuits, and was able to cater to my needs with my knee issues. I can’t say it was easy, but the up and coming marathon at Purbeck 2018, gave me something to aim for. Gradually Ian introduced me to more fitness classes and longer walks, to help with fitness, for all those that had their sights set on Purbeck for the marathon and 16 miler in September

Then at the beginning of August, several of us from Mercian Nordic Walking attended the Cotswold 24 hour challenge. We all had set different goals, relating to how many laps we wanted to do We all surpassed our goals, each lap being 9kms, some of the ladies doubled their lap goal, having set 2 laps as a goal they achieved 4, which was amazing The great thing about the 24 hour challenge is that you walk when you want to, sleep when you want, eat when you want, so long as you do one lap.

I set my sights on 10 laps, and having done a team event last year I hoped that was doable. I managed to do 15 laps and walked for twenty two and a quarter hours At the event last year, some of the runners accepted us but didn’t seem to understand what Nordic Walking was about, and others were quite patronising.

This year it was a totally different story by the end of the event The amount of support and in their words “respect and admiration “ “you walk faster than I run”  was overwhelming.The one thing I did notice this year during the night several runners actually took to poles and walked laps.  They certainly weren’t doing Nordic style, as they haven’t been instructed, but never the less, they obviously  realised what we have achieved the last few years at the event.

I am delighted that my Team Mercian Nordic Walking came first, second and third in the Nordic category, and had I done Nordic walking but entered as a runner I would have come 3rd in the ladies solos out of 53 and 23 rd in the mixed out of 119runners

So the point of the e mail, as long winded as it’s been, is to thank you as Nordic walking  UK for the concept as without the Nordic walking I certainly wouldn’t be as fit as I am, and definitely not able to compete in any sporting activities To let you know what a wonderful instructor Ian is, because there were so many of us who have been to the events and exceeded what we thought we were capable of And to try and encourage more Nordic groups to take part next year, it is such a well organised event, great fun and a relaxed atmosphere.

I would also like to mention that my sister who is a very keen cyclist, and has cycled for GB in the World Champs in her age category, and her partner Cat who is a runner and competes in triathlons, did a learn to walk course with Ian in readiness for the Somme trip in October. When they returned from the course, they admitted that they had a new found respect for Nordic Walking, didn’t realise how hard it was, and were even complaining about aching muscles when they returned home on the Sunday. 

The word is getting around other groups, so what better way for free advertising than to get groups into events like the 24 hour challenge, so that runners etc don’t just think we are ‘walking with poles’

We are looking forward to seeing how Tracey and the team get on at the Purbeck Nordic Walking Challenge Marathon in September – watch this space!

 

 

 

Testimonial from a Nordic walking sceptic

Are you one of those folk who scoff about walking with poles? Do you think its something you could teach yourself or simply think what’s the point?

You are not alone and when our Team are out n about at shows we hear the same comments a lot although once we have the chance to show them the ‘power of the poles’ people do change their minds pretty swiftly. Take this gentleman for instance, it seems he felt just the same until his Partner persuaded him to give Nordic Walking a go. Read on to see what he thinks after gaining his FREEDOM passport with a NWUK Instructor!

 was the original sceptic as far as Nordic Walking was concerned. “Walking with sticks, why do I need instruction for that? What possible benefits could I derive from it?” (Yes I called them “sticks”)
I went to the first lesson reluctantly to please my partner, who, wiser than I saw the possibilities it offered.
I met my Instructors Carol and Graham, who are very nice people, but I doubted they could teach me anything new on exercising. How wrong I was!!
By the end of the first lesson, I was a total convert and no matter how tired I was after a days work, the thought of meeting up for a lesson energised me.
I learned so much in those four weeks, plus it was very sociable as well. 
The instruction catered for individual needs, whilst nurturing a group bond.
We now do the organised walks every week, an experience I highly recommend to everyone.
Carol and Graham research each walk so that it will challenge, but at the same time be safe and highly enjoyable. The benefits to health and fitness are undeniable, but we chat, we laugh, we enjoy ourselves.
Every week the walks offer something different. New friends are made, my partner walks up hills she wouldn’t have attempted a few weeks ago. 
We see deer, rabbits, walk over fields and through woods, brilliant.
But do you know the best thing about it? 
It’s the smiles! You are enjoying it so much, you just can’t help but smile.
Thank you big time, to Carol and Graham, (and to my partner for ignoring my reluctance) for introducing me to this wonderful way of keeping fit.
Ian

Tips for Nordic walking whilst on holiday

Avoid feeling lousy by September by making sure you pack your poles and keep up your Nordic Walking whilst away this Summer. Yes, we know that might be easier if like Mrs May you like holidaying in typical walking country like Switzerland but don’t fall into the trap of not giving it a go in more exotic locations too.

The key things you need to think about are 

  1. Travelling with your Nordic Walking poles. Very few airlines will now let you board with poles as hand luggage although we do know of a few canny folk who have explained that they are a necessary walking aid! To that end, you will need to either pop longer poles through the outsize or sports baggage system OR invest in lightweight travelling poles that fit into your suitcase. The Gabel Fusion (pictured) is a good choice as your second pair of poles as they are a 5 in 1 pole that can be used for trekking, skiing and ski touring too. They even come with two strap types and the baskets required for sand and snow. Like most of our three peice poles, they will break down small enough to go into a case and our experienced retail team are happy to provide measurements just to make sure. 
  2. Staying Cool, comfy and hydrated in Hotter Climes is another thing that you need to factor in although most of us in the UK are now pretty well acclimitised to doing just that! Even so, the thought of over heating is cited as a reason to not exercise on holiday so here are a few good ways to counter the problem. Firstly, look at how you can carry the required amount of water comfortably and take time to chill it before your walk. These days you can get great backpacks with ‘bladders’ in and bottles that can keep water cool and even filter it for you (see the water to go bottles which NWUK members can get at a discounted rate). Water is pretty heavy (2llbs per litre) but we do need circa 2 litres a day and when walking briskly even more to stay well hydrated. It is essential that you drink before and after a walk too but never venture out in hot weather weather without adequate water supplies or the knowledge of where you can fill up if needed. Hydration is not simply about staving off thirst – its vital for your health as being dehydrated increases the risk of strokes and other serious conditions and exacerbates the symptons of other conditions too. If you have had achey joints recently for instance, that could be realeted to lack of hydration. Another tip is to ensure clothing is breathable, loose and lightweight and ALWAYS wear a hat or visor. In extreme conditions it helps to cover the neck or wear a ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ style hat with a back flap. A lightweight linen scarf can also work and feels great if soaked with water (if you know you can spare it) or you could invest in a Chill Pal cooling head or neck band which instantly turns cold when wet – small cooling towels are also available. Other hot weather essentials are sunscreen, sunglasses to protect eyes against UV and insect repellent. We recently tested SMIDGE a formula made in Scotland (where they know a thing or two about midges) and it works a treat. We stock the spray, wipes and mini pocket pack too.
  3. Another thing you may need to consider is adapting you technique and possibly even your poles to cope with different terrain you may encounter when away from home. For instance if you are walking in the mountains you may find it useful to shorten poles for long treks up hill and re adjust to slightly longer for he downhill section. Remembering of course, to adjust your technique and body position too. On sandy terrain, you will be sure of a good workout but it can impact on your back and shoulders if the poles sink in too deep so make sure you have the right baskets on the end of your poles (again the Fusion poles do come with an assortment of these – see picture)
  4. Our final tip is to know where you are going and if you don’t take some time to locate somebody who does (there are lots of walking websites which will link you to guides and groups including NWUK as we have Instructors all over the world now. If you do venture out on a longer trek, make sure somebody else knows where you intend to go and what time you aim to return so an alarm can be raised if you are lost or hurt.

So, all you need to do now is to pack those essentials and enjoy the Summer. We will see you back with your group soon!

Festival Team are in full swing again!

Workshops on the Lawns of Tissington Hall

The NWUK Festival Team are back into full planning mode following the success of the RUSTICK festival in the Peak District over the May Bank Holiday. This mini Festival was a sell out and participants enjoyed 75 amazing walks and workshops for  all levels in the stunning setting of Tissington Hall. Watch the video here 

The event was pulled together by the HQ Festival Team and local Instructor Sam Armstrong with a huge amount of help from her dedicated Team of Instructors, Walk Leaders and Walkers. The HQ Tutors and Specialists provided a range of workshops and other NWUK Instructors and Leaders from around the UK pitched in to recce, lead and backmark walks. It was a real team effort and many of those involved are now working hard on the larger Purbeck festival in Dorset this September which is likely to sell out in the next few weeks (especially now the schedules are live – see below)

Our rustic caterers produce lovely local food

This year there will be over 80 Festival hosts, leading and backmarking walks, helping at registration and generally pitching in! The event has moved to a more exclusive HUB so its possible to provide more workshops, better catering (including our Purple bus) more shopping opportunities and best of all….. a pasta party on Friday night and a Saturday Night Feast event with live music & Hog Roast.

There will be circa 120 lead walks and workshops to choose from and they range from gentle or wellbeing walks to hill climbs, longer walks and scenic or themed routes. Many involve the chance to enjoy the best food and drink Dorset has to offer plus the chance to learn about the area or simply enjoy nordic walking with enthusiasts from around the world. Come and join us to enjoy walking to Old Harry rocks, at RSPB Arne, Brownsea Island, Kimmeridge Bay, Studland and a host of other locations across the unique Isle of Purbeck. We have something for eveyone, including some amazing Friday night Supper walks, Art and literary walks, Workout walks and even History and Geology walks!

The workshops cover everything from advanced technique and stretching masterclass to ski fit, running with poles and how to prepare for endurance events. Other topics include walking for rehabilition, kit reviews, adding resistence to walking and some showcase demos of the latest innovations.  Non nordic walkers are welcome to join us for the social events or to come and take part in Tasters and even a Fast Track Learn to Nordic Walk course plus beginner walks schedule. There will be so much to enjoy for only £25 a day and places are filling fast – book your ticket now – this page will explan how it all works TICKETS & PRICES

Click HERE to see the walk schedules which have now been released and give a great idea of what we will have in store each day.

Finally, if the walks are not long enough for you – why not enrol for one the ultimate Nordic walking distance challenges on tough but exquisite paths along the South West coast path. Choose from 16 or 27 miles either to see how quick you are or simply to challenge yourself to complete the distance. These two Ladies did it last year and are really glad they did – click here to read their stories. The events are part of the Festival but organised by the local running Marathon event – its brilliantly well organised and all participants gain a T shirt and medal too

One thing we know for sure is that once you have experienced the magic of our festival and the wonders of Purbeck, you will want to return

Visit the Festival website for links to accomodation – info about the challenges and to secure your place before tickets run out (Hurry last year was a sell out)

See you there ?

 

 

 

 

 

OUT n’ ABOUT

Nordic Pole Cats in the Lavender

We love sharing some of the many photos we recieve from our groups on a daily basis because they show the range of Nordic walking sessions out there. From charity challenges to rehabilitaion groups and fun ‘meet up walks’ right across the UK. To stay in touch, make sure you follow us on Facebook for your daily dose of purple pole walking news.

Mercian Ladies enjoy the Confetti fields

 

 

 

In the meantime, we could not resist this little montage of  flower filled Nordic walking photos. If they don’t get you in the mood for the Summer holidays, nothing will.

Test Valley NW love all the purple flowers!

Core Concept viewed the National Hydrangea collection

Tales from the Purbeck Challenges…..

The 2 challenge events at  the PURBECK NORDIC WALKING FESTIVAL are not out and out races but rather timed distance routes. Last we saw people of all levels, take up the challenge and push themselves to complete their selected distance.
 
 
Sue from Bromsgrove completed the tough 27 mile challenge – she says “The Nordic Walking Marathon 2017 is an event I will never forget. I had never entered a challenge before so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and also, what I would be capable of. I registered in May and closer to the date had regular emails from NWUK with all the information I needed. There was nothing else to do apart from turning up!
The challenge was very tough but that was part of the fun. Once you get started that competitiveness takes hold and although you are only challenging yourself, that feeling when you overtake someone is great! The focus is on achieving your best possible time. Twenty seven miles in 7 hrs 45mins – I still can’t believe it! The icing on the cake was to finish 3rd fastest female!
I only achieved that time because of the fantastic motivation and support given by Ian, my Instructor, who walked the marathon with me. The steeper inclines were the hardest part for me, making me feel nauseous. Although I didn’t appreciate it at the time, I’m glad Ian didn’t show me any sympathy. He simply made me dig deep and get on with it!!
If I do it again, I would definitely do Ian’s Marathon training and a hill climbing course to be fully prepared. To go to this event as a large group would be fantastic and i am glad several of my group are booked in already for 2018.

I’m still buzzing from this experience and to be cheered over the finish line by my hubby and friends was a fantastic feeling. I really would encourage you to give it a go!” 
Sue
 
Meanwhile lots of nordic walkers completed the shorter 16 mile challenge event fpr a host of reasons including motivation for weight loss. Emma on the right of this picture is a busy Mum of three who suddenly realised she was leading a sedentary life. At the end of 2016 she took up NW and this is a picture of her in a Workout Walk (having climbed her very first hill) She fet she needed something to focus on in order to keep her walking every week so the Team at Dorset Nordic walking trained her up for the 16 miler. Emma took part in workout walks during the week and every sunday from July, the team took her out on the Sunday training walks which gradually got longer and tested parts of the actual route. (these are happening again this year folks so check out DORSET NORDIC WALKING if you fancy joining them!)
 
Now Emma walks twice a week and is 5 stone lighter (see second from the right in this picture) In fact she loves Nordic Walking so much she even works at HQ and is on the Festival planning Team “Only problem is I will miss the 16 miler this year as I will getting things ready for the Satuday Night Feast with live music at the HUB. However, I can definatley recommend the atmosphere on the event, everyone was brilliant.The other participants, marshalls, back markers and team giving out medals at the end made it something I will always remember” she says.

 

Adventures of a Nordic Walker – The Camino De Santiago

As someone already with a love of walking you may have already been aware of and caught BBC2’s recent programme “Pilgrimage – The Road to Santiago”. If not, don’t despair it can still be caught on BBC iplayer and it’s worth a watch as it may inspire you to give it a go. The show follows celebrities such as Neil Morrisey, Debbie McGee and Heather Small as they attempt parts of the 500-mile pilgrimage from St Jean Pied De Port in France to Santiago in Northern Spain.

BBC2 Pilgrimage: The Road to Santiago

Image credit: www.bbc.co.uk

Regular Nordic walker Julie has walked parts of the Camino and is going back to finish it this year – we asked her about her thoughts on the show and what it’s really like. Continue reading

The Magic of Birdsong and Blossom – Why exercising outdoors is so good for you

The Magic of Birdsong and Blossom – Why exercising outdoors is so good for you

It’s mid-March – we are eagerly anticipating the return of spring, brighter mornings and later evenings. The temptation to hide under the duvet is strong, or if you are more committed, you may head down to your local gym to keep your exercise regime going while you wait for warmer days. Continue reading

Step up and enter our latest prize-winning competition

UPDATE: There’s still time to enter our March competition, but hurry, the closing date is 18 March!


We think you will love this prize for our Nordic Walking UK March members’ competition. 

Enter now for a chance to win a voucher worth £80 to spend on the fabulous range of shoes from www.Rieker.co.uk

 

 

Blending fashionable styles with incredible comfort in a wide variety of footwear for men and women, all Rieker shoes are designed for support, flexibility and durability as well as style.

 

Log into your membership area at nordicwalking.co.uk and select ‘My membership benefits’ for details of how to enter the competition.

Last date for entries: 18 March 2018

PRIZE:
A Rieker.co.uk voucher worth £80

Ts & Cs:
One winner will be drawn from correct entries received by the closing date and will win a www.Rieker.co.uk gift voucher to the value of £80.
Voucher can be redeemed online at www.Rieker.co.uk.  No cash alternative.
Entrants must have an active membership of Nordic Walking UK.

 

Not a member? Join up here for membership benefits including discount at www.Rieker.co.uk, Cotswold Outdoor, Millets, Blacks and many others. Membership costs just £9.95 (plus £2.50 p&p).

 

 

If you completed a Learn to Nordic Walk course and have a FREEDOM Passport, you can get the first year’s membership FREE (subject to £2.50 p&p). Looking for an instructor near you? Search online at exercise-anywhere.com

Get away for less with Cottages.com and your Nordic Walking UK membership card

STOP PRESS! This announcement just received from our benefit partners Cottages.com:

Summer Flash Sale- Extra £50 off breaks June-September – Sale runs from 9th-19th March

Summer Flash Sale- £25 Deposit breaks June-September – Sale runs from 9th-19th March

After last week’s Arctic blast, what better than to dream of a summer getaway in comfort with cottages.com!

We have joined forces with cottages.com to bring members of Nordic Walking UK over 18,000 self-catering holiday cottages, villas and gites in the UK and overseas. Whether you’re looking for a cosy romantic retreat, a fun-filled family getaway, or somewhere large, lavish and filled with luxury, you’ll find a great selection of properties to suit everyone. Many properties offer a short break of 2, 3 and 4 nights, or stay for a week or longer!

To book, simply log into your nordicwalking.co.uk membership account and select ‘My membership benefits’ from the left-hand side. Scroll down through your exclusive membership benefits until you find the link to Cottages.com.

Not a member? Sign up at nordicwalking.co.uk for just £9.95 plus £2.50 p&p for exclusive membership benefits. If you have been awarded your FREEDOM Passport at a NWUK Learn to Nordic Walk course, your first year’s membership is FREE (subject to £2.50 p&p).