Northumberland Coastal Challenge 2012
Tue 8th May 2012
Being on the start and finish line allows me to see you all come and go as the day progresses. I see the excitement, optimism, anxiety and general giddiness in the mornings – and thatís just the staff! But at the end I like to be there to give you that well deserved pat on the back and a cup of tea. But I also get to hear your wonderful and sometimes quite moving stories.
So, with your permission I would like to share some of those stories with you.
Most people on finishing were tired, wet and very windswept and the offer of a hot drink was more than appreciated. But 2 participants, who arrived back late afternoon, looked fresh as daisies and told me how they had never done the challenge or distance before but had thoroughly enjoyed it. And did they want tea or coffee? No, they settled on a pint! Well done lads!
A lady who arrived back late afternoon was laughing as she couldnít see through her glasses because of sand on the lenses. As she entered the clubhouse her glasses also began to steam up so she took them......or at least tried to. The wind had been so aggressive that it had completely tangled her hair around the frame of her glasses. My colleague tried to help untangle her but in the end she had no choice but to cut her free! Luckily it was only the end of her hair cut and not a large clump. Next year we may well have to have an on-site hairdresser with us!
We have many groups and individuals who walk with their dogs. They are amazing as most cross the finish line ready to go again! One dog in particular caught my eye this year. Her name is Bess, she is a Border Collie and she has walked on quite a few challenge walks with her owner over the last few years. When she crossed the finish line this year she looked tired, a sign she is getting older, and was quite happy to sit with her owner for a rest. That was until she found a tennis ball the cricket club had been using in training. The tail wagged, she was up and looking for someone to throw the ball for her. I guess thatís where the saying Ďlife in the old dog yetí comes from.
Another regular client of ours not only walked the challenge but completed an 8 mile stretch of it by Nordic Walking. This lady came on a Nordic walking training course with me last year and has worked really hard to perfect her technique. I am so proud of her. The same lady also told me that she was raising money for a young boy, to enable him to travel to the States for an operation. She alone had raised £200 completing this challenge. The boy and his lovely family had come to see their friends finish the challenge, including some people who they had never met before. He spent all afternoon watching out of the window for people he knew and had a gingerbread man or two. I hope he gets to the USA and all is well in his future.
Lastly, and perhaps the most moving story I heard was that of a lady who finished the challenge in the late afternoon. She came through the clubhouse door looking like she had won the lottery. Jon followed her in and announced that she had attempted the challenge in 2011 but had had to retire. She had been quite upset but had been determined to go for it this year......and she did! She completed the challenge and got a massive cheer from all in the clubhouse for her efforts.
So whether you tried and failed, or thought about entering but didnít or perhaps you just want to complete the challenge year after year, I hope you feel inspired to join us next year. The coastal challenge is such a wonderful day for staff and participants alike. And I really hope to see you next year on the start....and finish line!