17 Sep Our Nigel conquers Hadrian’s Wall!
Nigel Adams completed an incredible 69 mile trail challenge earlier this year…he’s just about recovered now, and sends us his story of an epic weekend conquering Hadrian’s Wall.
THE WALL – 69 Miles in 1 Day
The race starts at Carlisle castle and follows the route of Hadrian’s Wall to Newcastle. The landscape is rugged, wild and epic, with large sections of the wall visible along the way, and many off-road sections. Forts and settlements roll by including Vindolanda, Birdoswald & Housesteads. Whilst I did it as a single athlete non-stop, it can be done as a team relay or as a two day event, with an overnight stop.
Organisation was superb. Along the way you find four “Pit Stops” where you can fill up on hot food, pasties, sandwiches, sweets, gels, energy drinks, tea, coffee, just about anything you could want and full medical cover. In between each pit stop you will find numerous checkpoints with extra sweets and drinks and marshals around every corner. Signage was superb, even in the darkest parts of the night, in the middle of woods, you were never unsure of direction, there was always an arrow or a marshal.
How hard is it? It’s tough and I guess the truth is the older you are the harder it is and the longer it will take you to recover. You will be tired beyond anything you have experienced before, unless you served in the military, as I did. The sections are broken down into 15 miles (Lannercost Abbey) 12 miles (Cawfield Quarry) 18 miles (Hexham) 17 miles (dark section Newburn) & 7 miles to finish.
Get an Air BnB in Carlisle the night before where you will pick up your number; and make sure it’s close to the start at Carlisle Castle. Get another in Newcastle, close to the finish, you’re going to need at least 8 hours kip before you think about driving back, unless you get a shuttle back to the start.
Change your socks and strapping at every pit stop, talcum your feet and keep them dry. I didn’t and I ended up with big blisters because my feet got damp and sweaty. This included blisters between the balls of my feet and the heels. In the last 7 miles that was very painful.
Eat lots at every pit stop, you will need it. I didn’t at 27 and was knackered at 45, but ate there and was good again at 62.
Find someone in Hexham to pair up with, you’re going to need a friend through the night, I did and Sheila was a diamond, it would have been a bloody sight more lonely without her and the last 7 miles would have been hell without a laugh and a joke along the way.
If someone is mad enough, get them to support you along the way and collect you at the end, Karen did and I was so happy to see her, she had all my stuff and I was grateful for it, several times, especially at the end.
Finally savour every bloody moment. It took me 21 Hours and 41 mins but it’s epic, it’s wild and it’s an amazing experience. One you will never forget. It took me three months to recover fully, sore tendons and bruised bones. Would I do it again? Yes, no question, I would love to. With knowledge and planning I know I could do it under 20 hours and come home in much better shape.
Editor’s comment……would it have been easier not dressed up as a Roman Centurion, Nigel?!