I’m not sure how I came across the London Winter Walk. I was probably Googling London fitness events and it must have popped up!
I remember being on the Action Challenge website, reading about the event and thinking that a 20K ramble through London during the daytime sounded pretty appealing. I’ve taken part in a lot of walking events (numerous SHINE, Moonwalks and Moonlight Catwalks etc) and they all take place at night, which is fine but can cause public transport panics.
The London Winter Walk took place on Sunday 14 January and participants could choose a time to start between 8:30 – 11:30am. The £59 entry fee sounds steep but included a bespoke medal, neck buff, bobble hat, snacks, drinks and a hot meal at the end. There was also the promise of a Zumba warm-up, marshals and a fully-signed route. I didn’t hesitate to sign up with mum, choosing to start in the 11:30am wave.
We caught the 8:15am train from Tunbridge Wells to London Bridge and then a tube to Canada Water, with a short walk from there to Southwark Park.
A marquee housed the Registration where we picked up our Walker number & safety pins, map, barcode lanyard, neck buff and bobble hat. The far end of the marquee housed a hot drinks station which handed out free teas, coffees and hot chocolates with various biscuits.
Back outside there were portaloos and a selfie area backdrop, and our barcode lanyards were scanned as we entered into a cornered-off starting pen. I had misjudged the time and we ended up getting to the park by 10am, but were thankfully allowed to move into the 10:30am starting wave to save hanging around.
Music was blaring as our wave took part in the fun Zumba warm-up, and then we set off through the start line as a machine covered us with fake snow. So far, so good! It had been a really quick, simple, enthusiastic start.
The weather was dry and pretty much perfect. I wore Adidas Climate running leggings, black 1000 Mile trainer socks, Nike Roshe trainers, Brooks sports bra, Parkrun t-shirt, Adidas London Marathon ‘rejection’ jacket and Shine Walk hoody, which made for the ideal outfit. The free neck buff and bobble hat were a fab addition and super comfortable! My bumbag contained lip-balm, tissues, plasters, money, keys, chocolate energy bar, phone, mints and the route map, which was all I needed and more.
We set off, following arrows on lampposts etc which led the way. The arrows were quite large, pink and outlined with fluorescent yellow, so hard to miss! There were plenty of them so we didn’t get lost or go off course at any point; and the marshals that we saw were super friendly and enthusiastic. Throughout the whole 20K we were surrounded by other walkers who were easy to spot, thanks to the bobble hats!
Two hours in at the halfway mark (10K), we arrived at another marquee which housed a large variety of breakfast pastries, chocolate bars, sweets and breakfast bars; plus a hot drinks station which again handed out free teas, coffees and hot chocolates with various biscuits. Mum is Vegan and was so happy (and surprised) to see Vegan flapjacks and Soya milk! The staff were lovely and supportive. Outside there was another selfie area backdrop, portaloos and room to sit down and relax.
Our barcode lanyards were scanned again as we set off for the second half of the Walk. Again the route was clearly signposted around London and we had no issues finding the way. It was basically a loop back towards the Start line, across the other side of the river.
We had a great time and the atmosphere was lovely! It wasn’t long until we arrived back at Southwark Park and crossed back through the Start Line at 2:20pm, less than four hours after we set off. There was a crowd of supporters and everyone cheered, which was so nice and it made mum’s day. A line of staff handed out bespoke medals, congratulated us and scanned our barcode lanyards for the final time. We were directed towards the marquee where there were paper plates and cutlery set out with a choice of hot foods – chilli con carne, vegetable rice, macaroni cheese, Vegan stew, potatoes and bread & butter. A generous spread with plenty of options, and yet again mum was chuffed that they had thought of Vegans.
We ate our food, had another free beverage from the hot drinks station and then made our way back to the tube, getting back to our homes by 4:30pm.
I absolutely loved this event and I know mum did too. It was great fun, well organised, well managed and had a super atmosphere. The £59 event fee was worth it and we’d definitely take part again!
NEXT UP – London Winter Run 10K, Sunday 4 February 2018