Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Meet James: a veteran Just Walker with a moving story


Having just celebrated our tenth anniversary year, we decided to catch up with one of our veteran Just Walkers and find out what it is about the day that keeps bringing them back.
We caught up with 67-year-old James Kinsella, who kindly agreed to share his poignant story that inspired him to take on the Just Walk challenge; one of sheer determination, a big heart and an unwavering dedication to keeping on top of his game.

“Just Walk seemed like the perfect fit”

Just Walk (JW). What is it about Just Walk that first attracted you?
James Kinsella (JK). The main draw for me was the rural setting; I grew up on a farm in Ireland, which has given me a love for horses, farms and fields – it all holds a very special place in my life; my memories. Just Walk seemed like the perfect fit.

J.W. The South Downs certainly does sound befitting; how much of the beautiful scenery do you like to experience each year?

J.K. Well, I usually walk the 20k. This year [2017] though, I’ll be undertaking the 30k for the first time – I feel it’s time to push myself a little further now! Then the year after [2018] I’m going take the 40k challenge to celebrate my 70th birthday. 

J.W. We love your enthusiasm James… just how many times have you taken part?

J.K. So far ten times. I joined the first ever walk in 2006 and haven’t looked back! This year will be my 11th Just Walk and I’m determined to keep doing it for as long as I can.

“Life is far too short; get out there and engage with the world”

J.W. Many of our Just Walkers love to fundraise for charity; others just crave the personal challenge – what is it that drives your enthusiasm to Just Walk every year?

J.K. When I became semi-retired, I started walking to stay fit, healthy and active, but one of my biggest motivations is my grandson, Riley; he was born with a cleft palette and had to go through lots of operations at a very young age. Then, six years ago, he suffered a serious asthma attack and ended up in intensive care at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London. The care and support their staff provided Riley and my family has made me eternally grateful to them all, so fundraising for their charity is enormously important to me.

I’m driven to give back to others, particularly my grandson, and that was spurred on after the death my brother. An avid walker and mountaineer, he climbed Kilimanjaro in Kenya years ago, but after collapsing, he passed away in a nearby town. That made me realise life is far too short; you should get out there and engage with the world.

J.W. Do you go with friends or family each year, or is it a challenge you prefer to do undertake alone?
J.K. I usually attend the event on my own – I can be a little impatient, which is why you’ll normally see me amongst the first 2 or 3 people. That said, it is nice to find someone that matches my pace and rhythm along the way. Last year I walked a large part of the route with someone else and at the end we crossed the finish line together.

“Competition isn’t important; charity fundraising is what really keeps me going”

J.W. Impressive! You must keep fit to keep ahead of the pack – do you use a clear training regime in the lead up to the big day?
J.K. Well, I walk all the time, usually 20 miles a week on average. But leading up to the event itself I increase my distance every week, up to about 35 miles per week. It keeps my fitness levels in good condition.

J.W. Has your dedication to your fitness improved your time over your 10 years of doing Just Walk?
J.K. My quickest time doing the 20k is about 3 hours and 20 minutes, though I don’t do it to get a personal best. I always hope to knock off 5 to 10 minutes from my best time, but competition isn’t important; charity fundraising is what really keeps me going.

“Training! It’s absolutely essential.”

J.W. Do you have any top tips for anyone who has just signed up for this year’s event?

J.K. Training! It’s absolutely essential. If possible, start walking around three months before the event, but certainly as soon as you can. Also, add in hills to your route – they really do push you, particularly if it’s been raining.

Also – quality hiking boots! Mine are around £140. You must look after your feet and keep them protected to avoid blisters. The right socks, too; good ones to absorb sweat and give you the right support.
And take lightweight, quality gear – you don’t want to be too weighed down on a long walk.

On the day, begin at a leisurely pace and get a good rhythm going. Most importantly, enjoy it; the scenery, the wonderful people and all the wonderful charities being supported. It’s such a positive day!

J.W. Thank you, that’s great advice! Finally, James, could you share with us one of your best memories from the day?
J.K. A couple spring to mind; I remember seeing a mum who must have been unwell with her 4 or 5 children, being taken around the course. Seeing them do it as a family, supporting each other and supporting a wonderful cause - that was really touching.

The other has got to be the first time I took part in Just Walk. I am so proud I did the first one and that I achieved it with so many happy memories. I surprised myself that I was so capable; I wouldn’t, and haven’t, missed one since.

J.W. Thank you very much for sharing your touching story with us James, it’s been an absolute pleasure. We look forward to seeing you once again on the 13th May 2017!

J.K. And thank you too - I look forward to it!


If you would like to show your support for James’ 30k walk this May, head over to his donation page and donate to the Evelina Children’s Hospital.

For more information on Just Walk 2017, including training advice, handy tips and up-to-date event news, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

If you would like to book your place at the start line, sign up today!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Fundraise faster with JustGiving

Just Walk began back in 2006, our walkers have raised over £2 million for numerous charities and already we are seeing that number growing as we move closer to our next walking event for 2017.

Whether you’re planning on participating in the event on your own or with friends and family; Just Walk is a superb day out! Your day will be spent surrounded by lots of different people, some dressed in crazy costumes, some will be experienced walkers and for some it will be their first ever challenge – but everyone will have their own story to tell as to why they are doing this event. It may be for a personal challenge or it may be to raise funds for a charity of their choice.

If you wish to use Just Walk to fundraise, then a great way to do this is through the UK’s first online fundraising platform JustGiving.

Presenting JustGiving

JustGiving (the name is merely a coincidence, we promise) is one of the most popular and easiest platforms in the world for charity fundraising. We’ve signed up with JustGiving to help make it even easier for you to achieve your fundraising goals.

Follow our guide below to set up your JustGiving account and once complete you’re ready to walk the distance to make a difference.

6 easy-to-follow steps:
  1. Book your place(s) at the just Walk 2017 event choosing either the 10k, 20k, 30k, 40k or the BIG 60k – just click the button…
  2. Click the 'Start fundraising' button below to begin:
    N.B. For your convenience, by using this link, the Just Walk event on May 13th 2017 is automatically linked to your fundraising page.
  3. Fill out your details to create your account (alternatively you can login with your Facebook profile)
  4. Choose the charity you wish to support – you can fundraise for any charity around the world too, not just in the UK!
  5. Select the relevant options on the next page and click ‘Create your page'
  6. Now spread the word instantly via social media or email, and wait for the donations to come in. All donations through JustGiving are sent directly to your chosen charity.

Last minute fundraising tips:
Once you’ve set up your JustGiving page, you may be wondering if you have enough time to raise money for your chosen charity – you do, so don’t fret!
Take a look at these useful last-minute tips when fundraising through JustGiving…

  • Up to 20% of donations come in after the event has finished*, so just update your fundraising page after Just Walk on 13th May with how well it went and you might just see those extra pennies come rolling in.
  • Share your Fundraising Page on your social media platforms – Did you know that when someone likes your Fundraising Page on Facebook it could raise you an extra £5 in donations? *

Once you’ve followed these steps, you’re good to go! If you still have any questions, feel free to contact us, or see JustGiving’s FAQ page on their website here.

* Source: JustGiving