Thursday, 30 April 2009

New Video Uploaded

Hello everyone! Spa2Summit has uploaded some footage from the training walk of Saturday 25th April. Take a look at Thanks!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Into The Even Wester!

I'll take over from Ken's last post now as I, Chris, Ollie and Grant continued on from the Skirrad Inn. It was already late in the day with the light failing from the cloud cover building overhead and the sun close to hitting the horizon and we were feeling the demoralization that comes from losing a team member (although fair play to Ken, he put his shoes back on over his burst blisters which must have been agony and he was gutted to not finish with us). The enormity of our task was really hitting us.

But that having been said we now dug into mental reserves when physical ones were lacking and plowed on, keeping the good pace that we'd been hitting all day, comfortably over 3 mph. We walked round the north of the Sugar Loaf, skirted past Llanbedr and south of Pen Cerrig-Calch, then started the long, long descent to Crickhowell. Having seen nothing more built up than a farm for a while, it was strange to be walking through a town and got a few strange looks coming into town with head torches and walking poles. Arriving at the Bridge End pub was a wonderful feeling, especially to find Ken fortifying himself in the bar.

I guess that more lessons were learned, the need for good preparation and training hammered home and we're safe in the knowledge that we've done half the distance. I'm aching today as I'm sure we all are, but fired up that we can do this.

Please keep supporting us and please keep donating.

Into The West...

If you are a regular follower of this blog, you'll know that yesterday the Spa2Summit team set out on their second training walk. Following on from our walk in February, this would start in Mitcheldean and finish 35 miles and ?? hours later in Crickhowell. This would be a real test of our training, kit, nutrition, hydration and mental stamina. "How did it go, how did it go?" I hear you cry! Read on!

After a week of glorious weather it was fantastic to wake up to thick grey clouds and rain. Fortunately, after convening at Pete's and driving out to Mitcheldean, the rain gradually eased off to very light drizzle. We set off, after no small amount of faffing about, to climb out of town. As we turned off the road and in to the woods we could see the sky brightening and within minutes were walking in sunshine. Awesome. Once we climbed to the high point here, we were treated to stunning views north which gave us a real lift. A slight navigational faux-pas lost us a few minutes in the woods above Hope Mansell but we were soon back on track. Before long we were descending to the Wye Valley, which looked particularly lovely, and then striding towards Kerne Bridge, Goodrich and our first meeting with Jonty, who was piloting our support vehicle. A brief stop and scoff, and we were back on our way.
Our second leg took us out through Marstow, Llangrove and towards Welsh Newton before swinging north to cross the River Monnow at Skenfrith. Again we were treated to quiet lanes and stunning views. In fact just after what will be kilometre 55 in June we could look west and see, between Skirrid and Sugarloaf, our ultimate destination, Pen Y Fan. It was a long way away! Just after this we descended to the Monnow, having had to make a rapid dash across someone's drive to pick up the footpath (sorry!). What a beautiful little river the Monnow is. A few steps further on and we catch sight of Jonty, relaxing in the sun by Skenfrith Castle. We decided to join him!
At this point, about 26km in, we were all starting to feel it, but nowhere near as bad as our February 20 miler. More scoff, change of socks, blister plastering of feet, topping up of Camelbaks and we were off again.
This next leg was the longest of the day, getting on for 10 miles, and unfortunately the weather took a little turn for the worse. The wind picked up and ridiculously dark clouds loomed ahead of us. At this point the banter stopped, ipods went in, heads went down and we just got on with it. Out past Bont we picked up the Offa's Dyke Path, which did see a brief spurt of running up a very steep hill (what is it with us and running up hills..?) More stunning views followed as we descended towards Llanvihangel Crucorney. Seriously, walking down seems to be way worse than walking up...
Jonty had set up base in the carpark of the Skirrid Inn where our final stop took place. Just 9 miles seperated the team from it's goal. Deep breath and onwards.

At this point I would like to make observations about the kit we were using. Having the right gear makes such a massive difference. Thanks to Nicki at Cotswold Brecon and her contacts at SIS we were well stocked with energy gels, go bars and PSP22 drink, and this had a really big effect. Keeping properly hydrated, and replacing lost electrolytes, has an immeasurable impact! No shakiness or cramps, brilliant. Our S2S Berghaus base layers were excellent and I thoroughly recommend Helly Hansen boxers, comfy, oh yeah! Following discussion with one of Nicki's colleagues I used a Lowe Alpine bumbag as an auxillary carrying device, filled with flapjacks, Jamaica Ginger Cake, wine gums, jelly babies, dried fruit and mini Cheddars. It's so easy to keep eating when everything is so conveniently to hand. However, here comes the less good bit. After our walk in February we all decided that lighter footwear would be a wise purchase. We needed something that could handle off-road walking but that wouldn't weigh us down on the road. Most of us then bought TNF Hedgehogs. Whilst I felt really comfortable in these in the shop and on shorter walks, they have wrought terrible things on my poor feet. Having put on a couple of pre-emptive blister pads on the back of my heels, I had to put a couple on the balls of my feet at Skenfrith. Even then I could feel all was not well. When I peeled my socks off at the Skirrid Inn I was greeted with the sight of a burst blister on the outside of my left heel and what appeared to be an orange wine gum stuck to the outside of my right big toe. And blisters under my blister pads... I hasten to add that this in no way is meant to detract from these shoes, as I say most of the team were using them and getting on very well with them. They're obviously just not for me! I sat feeling very despondent, just trying to slip my shoes back on caused me much pain, and I could see no way that I would make the last 9 miles. So, sadly, I had to drop out at this point. Gutted...
So I'll have to leave one of the other guys to describe the final leg. Jonty and I went and sat in the pub for an hour then set out to overtake them. Fair play, hanging as they may have been, the guys had really put some distance on. With a quick enquiry as to any requirements they had, we pressed on to Crickhowell. Another killer descent in to the town, but maybe an hour and half after we'd left them, they arrived. 35 miles in 13.5 hours! Brilliant! That pace would see us on the top on PyF in 27 hours which means we can wind the speed back and have some longer rests.

Big thanks to Jonty for ferrying all our gear around for the day, it makes such a difference being able to go light but still know that you have plenty of food, drink and gear available.
Bev for driving to Crickhowell at 10pm to pick up weary walkers.
Nicki at Cotswold for sorting us out with quality kit and feed.
All our supporters and sponsors.
Thank You!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Love Blog update 2!

Well, we've just had a late lunch in the shadow of the Skenfrith Castle, the everyone is in good spirits. Olly is suffering slightly with a injury that he picked up at football last night, but is pushing on, only the tough survive this one!

I've just driven ahead about 3 miles to get a signal, and upload this blog. Sorry about the continued lack of photo's, but struggling to get a signal long enough to upload them.

Keep thinking of us, and that sponsorship money rolling in! ;)

Support Team

Blogging LIVE!

Hi there Spa2Summit fans! Sponsored yet? - just checking! ;)

So here I am live, 11:47am on a Sunny Saturday Morning, 25th April, sat in my car by the side of the A40, just south of Ross. I've just met the team for the first stop. Unfortunately I was a wee bit late, getting lost and driving down single tract roads with foot-high grass growing down the middle didn't help!

Anyway the team are in fine shape, all looking sprightly and dapper in they're Spa2summit base layers and fleece's which Cotswold Brecon so kindly supplied for us all.

I have now about 3 hours to kill before our next rendezvous (what is the french for rendezvous?) so going to do a bit more driving around, try to get to our next stop before the guys, get some video taken and some pictures and try to include them on the next blog!

See you all in a few hours! We'll be blogging live from Wales!

Spa2summit - Support Crew / Gadget Wrangler

Thursday, 23 April 2009

The Spa2Summit 'Plodcast'

As you should know by now, the Spa2Summit team are heading out into the world this weekend for our second training walk. Since our first walk we have all got new kit, whether it's stuff we've bought or had kindly donated. That's the main point of the training walk, to experiment with kit and learn our personal limitations, success is less important.

At this moment, however, I feel very excited and confident. I'm extremely happy about my health and fitness with training having gone exceptionally well. As the weather has been steadily improving the amount of time at the gym has decreased and the time spent out in the open air has increased. Also, I'm saving money on petrol as I choose to now run to a lot of my destinations. All this, along with a much-improved diet, result in an enormous sense of well-being. My only worry now is whether I'll stick to this routine when the June 19th walk is over, I certainly hope so. We may need a second project!

What I really wanted to talk about today was The Spa2Summit Plodcast. How many episodes we make we don't know but we thought we'd attempt our first tomorrow on our training walk. This is where we need your help. If you have any questions about Spa2Summit or anything(!) please email them to along with the name of who you wish to attempt to answer them. Also, any messages of encouragement are most welcome and we'll try to include them on the plodcast. Thank you so much! Keep donating!

Monday, 20 April 2009

Nervous Tingle!

This Saturday sees the second Team S2S training walk and I'm getting a bit tingly in anticipation. If you're a keen follower of this blog, you'll remember that we did 20 miles back in February. Well, we're upping the ante this week with a 34 miler between Mitcheldean and Crickhowell. This is pretty much half the distance of the challenge proper so will be a really good test for us. We've been training hard and we're superbly kitted out, thanks to Cotswold Brecon. Will it be enough? When push comes to shove, will we have enough in the tank, physically and mentally, to nail this walk? Tune in on Sunday to find out!

Friday, 17 April 2009

Spa2Summit Facebook News

Social networking sites are like online Marmite, you either love them or hate them. At the time of writing the current 'site du jour' is Twitter. The members of Spa2Summit, however, have selected Facebook as our chosen social presence. The benefit of having a Facebook profile is that you, our fantastic supporters and sponsors, can have a voice and tell us what's on your mind!

Not only can you use our page to post comments and words of encouragement but also to join in with discussions and debates. Already there are discussions underway on topics as diverse as:
  • "The Best Way Of Getting Down Pen-Y-Fan When All Our Muscles Have Seized Up"
  • "Music For Walking To..."
  • "Spa2Summit Top Trumps."
I'm sure you'd agree there are some important matters that need to be discussed!

We'd love to hear what you have to say so please pay a visit to or search for Spa2Summit in Facebook's search box.

Let's get chatting!

Science In Sport Goodies

As the reality of what we are attempting starts to hit home, we are endeavouring to get every bit of advantage we can. Some of us have started rubbing our feet with surgical spirit to harden the skin to slow/stop blisters forming. We are scrutinising our kit to ensure it is as light and useful as possible. One area that will make a big difference to our performance on the day is proper nutrition and hydration. When we did our 20 miler back in February, a number of us tried Science in Sports products and got on with them really well. They make a range of energy gels, bars and electrolyte drinks that, in combination, help to keep your body supplied with energy during exercise.

So in light of this we thought it would be good to get more! When we went over to Cotswold Outdoor in Brecon for our shopping spree, we had a chat with Nicki about getting hold of some. She said "Leave it with me" and two weeks later, voila:
Awesome job! We really appreciate this donation to our challenge and once again a big thank you goes to Nicki and Cotswold Brecon, but especially in this instance to Science in Sport. Thank you!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

What a difference some training makes!

It can sometimes be hard to notice the increase in fitness that comes from regular training. The progress you make comes in incremental stages, and you just end up not realising what you have achieved. This was brought home to me on Saturday. I went mountain biking with Chris A up on Leckhampton Hill. We cycled up from town, up Bath Road and then Leckhampton Road toward the Dasiybank car park. If you know Cheltenham you know that this road gets steeper and steeper. When you get up to the junction with Old Bath Road it can very often become a grind in the lowest gear you've got, particularly if your bike is geared for descent and not ascent, as mine is.

However, on Saturday not only did I stay in the middle ring, I put the hammer down and positively whizzed (relatively) up to Daisybank. On arrival I felt fine and then proceeded to spend a very pleasant couple of hours blasting round the hill. Next day, no pain! I think this training gubbins is bearing fruit!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

A Momentous Day!

We've just broken £1000!
£857.75 plus the £142.44 in reclaimed Gift Aid gives us £1000.19 raised so far!
To all our supporters a massive THANK YOU from Team Spa2Summit.

They say that Breakfast is the most important meal of the day...

... and that is especially true if it's a Charity Breakfast hosted by the Legal Department of Gloucestershire County Council! Spa2Summiteer Grant works in this department, and after he spoke to his colleagues about what we were planning for June, we were invited to a Charity Breakfast. Pete and I would have the opportunity to talk about Macmillan and about the S2S Challenge whilst enjoying coffee and croissants. It seemed like a win-win situation!

The day rolled round and we arrived at Quayside House with banners, posters, leaflets, badges, pens, collection boxes, Cotswold Outdoor catalogues, cameras, Jonty and 10 minutes worth of blurb to pitch to our willing audience. Grant ushered us up to Nigel Roberts' office where we were to set up. Once we were set, it was nice to have a chat with Nigel, Sue his PA and their enthusiastic assistants. Within short order people began arriving until both offices were pretty full and Grant introduced us, and Pete took the floor. A brief discussion about Macmillan and what they do was followed by more personal comments about the specific help received by Pete's family last year. I followed up with a quick overview of S2S, what we've done and what we want to do. Hopefully(?) Jonty will be posting the vid of these momentous speeches on YouTube. When that happens we'll let you know.

Once we were out of the way, the serious business of eating breakfast could be undertaken, and while that was going on we took the opportunity to spread the S2S message! Then we had a particularly nice finale; through various means (including a donation for a Spa2Summit leaflet signed by Mr. J. Hewlett!), the breakfast had raised, and get this, £232.75! We were absolutely blown away! Thank you, thank you, thank you, you generous GCC People!

A special "Thank you" has to go out to Nigel Roberts, Sue Jones and all those who very kindly donated food and prizes for the breakfast, and also to Catherine North of Macmillan who came to give us moral support! And let's not forget Mr G. Adlard!

Not wanting to steal others thunder....

Looks like I'm the first to get to my computer after a great Morning. I feel a little guilty doing this as I really didn't do alot towards this morning, apart from turning up. The real stars of this morning were Grant for organising the event, Pete and Ken for speaking, Catherine from Macmillan, and the team at where we were invited for breakfast.

As to who they were, where we went, and why we went (oh and how much we raised) well I'll leave that to one of the other guys to say, but we had a fantastic morning, left feeling a foot higher, and were genuinely moved by the donations and interested people showed in our little project.

Now just off to find out about uploading some videos to youtube, hiring a big people carrier (anyone?), getting 1/3 tonne of water for the walk, and seeing if we can embed this blog on our site, one less URL might be easier to navigate! ;) Click here to feel better for the day,, promise!

Kids in a Candy Shop!

Team Spa2Summit had a night out in Brecon yesterday. As part of the very kind support that Cotswold Outdoor Brecon have given us, we had the opportunity to have the store to ourselves whilst shopping for vital supplies. I think our biggest worry was "will our credit cards take the strain?" Let's find out...

One of the things that our walk in February brought home to us was the need for lightweight footwear, so that was the first port of call, and it appears that TNF Hedgehogs are the team shoe of choice.
Nicki going above and beyond the call of duty!But I've only got 2 feet!

Of course you're going to need socks as well, and maybe trekking poles, and possibly camelbaks, and wicking baselayers, and waterproofs, and ... well, you get the idea. Jonty, our gadget wrangler, seemed simply to stock up on things that he could use to make fire... Not only did we have the store to ourselves whilst loading up, when we came to pay we were given very generous discounts which made the whole thing even more pleasant. Grant was determined to win the "Biggest Bill" competition (money bill, not duck bill...) yet was pipped at the till by.... actually best the winner stay nameless, I think!
Plastic Meltdown

Laden with Cotswold Outdoor carrier bags we stumbled out in to the streets of Brecon, weary but smiling. Nicki joined us in the pub, where she then proceeded to dispense invaluable information regarding contacts, possible supporters and which pubs not to go in to in Brecon. Very useful!

Many Thanks, Cotswold Outdoor Brecon and enjoy your Stella!