Bien joué to everyone, who virtually made it all the way from Norwich to Notre-Dame in Paris – a total of 375 miles per team.
Spurred on by your donations, The Rapid Referral Network Ramblers (Adam Yaxley, Sam Webber, Rachael Morrison, Toni Bentley and Liz) were first across the finish line.
The Red Hot Chilli Steppers (Danielle Gardner, Adam Taylor, Sophia Kelly, Grace Durbin and Hannah Bullent) were right behind in second.
Scrambled Legs (Victoria Taylor, Nai Chapman, Freddie Main, Diccon Hogger and Carrie Mansfield) finished not far behind, coming in fourth.
Money’s still coming in. But so far donors have helped us raise an incredible £4,073 which has taken our Chair’s Bursary Fund to £10,790.90.
The money will help us cover the costs of classes or courses for youngsters in challenging circumstances at The Garage in Norwich and at our sister venue The Workshop in King’s Lynn. You can still donate here.
Danielle, Victoria, Grace and Nai walked me through how the challenge went – and how it brought everyone together during a time of separation and isolation.
Danielle: We had a meeting with everyone that was interested and put all names in a random team generator. We only needed 10 people to take part but realised we had 11 involved. So Yax decided to make the Rapid Referral Network Ramblers an extra team and he became captain.
I captained Red Hot Chilli Steppers and Victoria kindly agreed to be captain for Scrambled Legs. Team names were also decided when groups were made.
Victoria: Typically, I was the only person from Scrambled Legs present in the meeting and somehow landed the role.
Danielle: A few of us went on long weekend walks in preparation. Unfortunately any kms completed before the challenge don’t count, as we kept reminding Yax.
Grace: I’d really got into walking during the lockdowns with my family and had discovered some really pretty routes. That definitely helped in the preparation for the long mileage we covered.
Victoria: I’d gradually made my morning walks longer and longer, although hitting the first day with 25km was still an absolute shock. The thing I struggled with the most was having to wear trainers for a long period of time.
Having taught via Zoom and only going on 12km max walks my feet simply have got used to a lavish lifestyle of being shoe free and as a dancer that’s the way we like it.
Nai: I’m not going to lie. I didn’t do anything before this to train. I went on dog walks every day, but apart from that I was guilty of sitting on the sofa, watching TV and playing games. We are all really passionate about what we do. As well as raising money for The Garage Trust’s fund, I wanted to challenge myself too and I feel like I’ve really done that.
Grace: Victoria and I decided we wanted to start the challenge off strong and although we were in opposite teams, we decided to do a mammoth walk together on the first day following Marriott’s Way. We’d been walking together all through the lockdowns so other than being sworn enemies team-wise there was no reason to not continue our adventures together.
Things took a turn for the worst when we walked almost a mile alone just looking for an entrance to Marriott’s Way. We bumped into a couple of dog walkers – who we’d already walked past a couple of times – who gave us an interesting look. We explained where we were trying to go.
They pointed us in the right direction – they’d only been living in Reepham for two months I might add – and we joined the path, only to realise not only had we already added to our walk by lack of direction to Marriott’s Way, we’d joined it at a point where we added yet another five miles.
Having started at 8am, we originally had every intention to get back to our respective homes in time for Victoria to teach her first class at 1pm. We quickly realised this wasn’t going to happen.
So after a somewhat concerned yet comical phone call from her to Hannah to say “hey, how do you feel about me teaching out in the wild?” we had to set up camp just off the track so it could happen. You can’t say we’re not a dedicated bunch.
Five hours and 15 miles later, we finally made it back to the car, and only just made it back in time for each of our evening classes too. I’ve had some less dramatic, but equally lovely walks mind you. It was nice to use this challenge as an excuse to explore new places and ones you don’t go to very often too.
Victoria: Following the rules, we’re only allowed to clock miles on an active walk, which is rather frustrating as being a tutor for a majority of my working week I clock up a fair amount of distance there.
Having only lived in my current area for a short amount of time, I simply looked at a map and decided to walk in that direction. Most have been successful while others have gone terribly wrong.
Nai: I’ve mainly been walking through my local park, a field at the top of my road and across the marshes. I’ve come across some really pretty places. Although I did walk from Beccles to Ringsfield and managed to get lost in a field.
Grace: I think the above says it all for us. V managed to injure herself towards the end of our trek and, the following day, I injured the same foot in the same way. We continued hobbling out to clock up the miles for our teams. Every little helps. It’s all so worth it and no pain no gain, after all.
Our team were also super active in keeping each other entertained via WhatsApp and pretty much every day we’d send each other video updates of our walks. I think this was my favourite part of it all.
Danielle: Red Hot Chilli Peppers have been very active in our group chat to motivate daily. Adam Taylor has used it as his very own YouTube channel – updating us multiple times per walk on where he is/how it’s going/the weather/what he can see/how late he is for dinner – the list goes on.
But having the group chat and video updates each day has really helped and spurred us on as a team. When members of your team have set 6am alarms to get a big walk in before their working day starts, it really does encourage you to get out of bed and walk too. We miss the video updates.
Grace: We’ve been kept so far apart from each other for so long now and we’re all so keen to get back to work and be in the building together once more. Doing this challenge has brought us all closer together again and has really highlighted to me the value of working with such incredible people.
I count myself very lucky to work for this organisation. Not least for the things we stand for, but also for the passion and love that each and every one of us has for our work. I can’t wait for us to all celebrate together when we’re able to.
Victoria: It’s been lovely to connect with my team-mates on a daily basis to see how their walks are going and the beautiful and somewhat comical pictures that are a result of it. We’ve had people get caught in thunder, lightning and rain-storms, finding themselves in the middle of a sheep birthing fields and even getting the laps in in Chapelfield Gardens at lunchtimes.
It was very humbling to know and to be reminded of the cause that we were working – or should I say walking – towards.
We have been separated now for 12-13 months and although we know each of us are working from home, it has taken a physical challenge to remind me that we are all passionate about changing young people’s lives through art and to make it possible to remove the boundaries for young people. Even if injuries, blisters, weather and sheep want to get in the way.
Danielle: We are all, of course, passionate about The Garage Trust and want to play our part in raising funds for the Chair’s Bursary Fund. We are also passionate about the positive impact of exercise for both physical and mental wellbeing. A little bit of healthy competition between each teams was also fun.
Adam Taylor, The Garage Trust’s Executive Director, said: “I am overwhelmed by the support we’ve received during this sponsored walk. I can’t thank people enough. The young people who will benefit in the years to come will have opportunities that wouldn’t have been available to them without your generosity.
“Also, a huge thanks to my colleagues who have also run and walked this distance – 375 miles is just incredible.”
James Bagge founded the Walking4Norfolk Fund in 2018. It is managed by the Norfolk Community Foundation (NCF) and provides grants to organisations offering projects to support unpaid carers, offering breaks from their significant day-to-day caring commitments.
When the last team’s flag crossed the virtual finishing line in Paris this year, the walkers had covered a combined total of 14,625 miles – more than half way around the globe.
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