Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Walking 60km with 80yr old David

We’d like to introduce you to the inspirational David Hawkins. At the magnificent age of 80 years old, David has joined us on eight occasions always doing the 60km at our Just Walk events, meaning he first joined us at the mature age of 72!

Being out in the fresh air, chatting with new people he meets along the way, and keeping fit and active are what drives David on each year. Read on to find out about his greatest moments and the secrets to his success…

“I took up walking approximately 11 years ago after retiring from a period as a Local District Councillor where my busy schedule didn’t allow me the time to enjoy many hobbies. When I retired, I started walking a little bit everyday and soon found I really enjoyed myself. ’I decided to join the Leadon Vale branch of the Ramblers and managed to get elected as a Malvern Hills Conservator. I also became a walk leader for the Annual Malvern Walking Festival and the Herefordshire Walking Festival and so my newly found hobby soon became my passion. Most days now, I’m out walking or popping down to my local gym for my spinning class. I’ve always been quite a determined person and if someone questions if I should be doing something, I like to prove them wrong where I can.”

“Once I realised that I enjoyed walking, especially the longer hikes which suit my walking pace and style, I started looking for walking challenges to set myself a goal and have something big to aim for. I started walking with other organised walks and was looking for other challenges when I was recommended Just Walk. For the last 8 years I have taken on the Just Walk 60km route, I’m not going to lie it doesn’t get any easier and in fact the last year was my toughest, but I enjoy making new friends, walking across the stunning route and completing my personal challenge. The Just Walk challenge has given me the opportunity to raise substantial funds for many very worthwhile causes. In recent years it has been for a local Hospice where, my daughter, Becki was a hospice nurse but is now a McMillan nurse. It is a great way for me to raise much needed funds as well as give something back to my local community.”

“Even though I regularly cover many miles on a weekly basis it still takes a lot of preparation and training in the lead up to my 60km walk. I generally start my training just after Christmas, taking myself up to the ridge of the Malvern Hills near where I live in the West Midlands where I walk the 12 mile length of the Hills and back. The demanding undulating terrain provides an ideal preparation for the challenging Just Walk ahead especially the dreaded Bignor Hill. George Mullery carried out all his training on these in preparation for the attempt to conquer Mount Everest in 1924. I find it helps to train on hilly terrain to help prepare myself for the Just Walk event as it is very different to flat road walking for example.”

“It is important to train properly so come the day of the event you won’t have anything to worry about, and can simply enjoy the day. The atmosphere is truly amazing, with everyone socialising and talking to you so it doesn’t matter if you are walking by yourself (like I do), or if you are in a group, as everyone supports one another. I had my lovely daughter Becki and her friend Wendy come to support me last year, which was fantastic. They waved me off at the start line. They met up with me at the Arundel ‘Power Station’ then at the top of the challenging Bignor Hill and eventually at the finish. In 2015, the year before last I was surprised to be informed at the end of the walk that I had finished in the top 25 of the 75 walkers doing the 60 km walk. Last year I had hoped to exceed this achievement. To my surprise at the start of the walk to celebrate my 80th birthday the Just Walk organisers wonderfully feted me hence the 007 number. In view of this I was determined to do well and finish in a triumphant manner. However, things did not work out well. A long-term problem with my shoulders returned about half way around the course and I was really struggling and instead of finishing at around 9.30pm as the previous year I even struggled to finish by 11.00pm. Obviously, my daughter was very worried and wondered what had happened.”

“I look forward to my walk every year, and have so many fantastic memories from each one. One of my best memories was of the 60km walk I did a couple of years ago, where I saw a group of army cadets in their early twenties run off all guns blazing (not literally). About three quarters of the way around the route, I came across one of the lads literally hanging on to a fence saying he couldn’t carry on. Not one for giving up, we started chatting about Newcastle on Tyne, a common association we had and ended up walking around the course together. A little further on, we came across two more of his group, sitting down, complaining of serious cramp and blisters. After a few words of encouragement, we all set off again and continued on as a merry band of men. As we came to the home straight, I urged them to cross the finishing line together to huge cheers from the crowd whilst I followed at a discreet distance behind, and felt proud to have helped them to that point. It was a special moment when afterwards they came back to me and said “Thank you David, we wouldn’t have been able to finish the walk without you”. It just goes to show you that age is just a number!”

Will David be walking the 60km in 2017? He says “I’ll wait and see.”

If you feel inspired, and would like to walk one of our Just Walk routes (you can choose 10km, 20km, 30km, 40km or the BIG 60km), then click here to find out more and book your place today. 

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