I took part in the London Winter Walk 20K for the first time last year, and loved it.
I wasn’t sure whether or not to take part again as the £59 registration fee is a bit steep; however it’s always nice to start a New Year with some fresh air and a bit of exercise, so I eventually signed mum and I up for the 2019 event.
The London Winter Walk took place on Sunday 13 January and participants could choose a time to start between 9-11am. As per last year, the entry fee 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 20K route.
Sadly, travelling to the event took a lot longer than it should have done, thanks to engineering works! We jumped on the 8:22am bus replacement service (EURGH!) from Tunbridge Wells to Sevenoaks, then caught the train to London Bridge and a tube to Canada Water, with a short walk from there to Southwark Park. There were arrows on lampposts etc directing us to the Start line, which was helpful!
A marquee housed the registration where we had to show e-tickets in order to pick up our walker number & safety pins, map, barcode lanyard, neck buff and bobble hat. The side of the marquee housed a hot drinks station which handed out free teas, coffees etc, which was a nice touch.
Back outside there were portaloos, and our barcode lanyards were scanned as we entered a cornered-off starting pen, which included a selfie backdrop area. We were in the 10:35 starting wave and enjoyed an energetic warm-up by Tikiboo followed by a safety briefing, before setting 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, Brooks Ravenna 8 trainers, Brooks sports bra, Huel t-shirt, London Marathon ‘rejection’ fleece jumper and London Marathon ‘rejection’ waterproof jacket, which made for the ideal outfit. The free neck buff and bobble hat were a fab addition and super comfortable! My bumbag contained the usual essentials: lip-balm, tissues, plasters, debit card, keys, phone, mints and route map!
We set off, following arrows on lampposts etc which led the way. The arrows were quite large, pink and outlined with fluorescent yellow, so were 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 route we were surrounded by other walkers who were easy to spot, thanks to the bobble hats!
Less than two hours in at the halfway mark, we arrived at another marquee which housed a large variety of breakfast pastries, chocolate bars, sweets, fruit and breakfast bars; plus a hot drinks station which again handed out free teas, coffees etc. Mum is vegan and was so happy (and surprised) to see vegan options and soya milk! The staff were lovely and supportive. Outside there was another selfie area backdrop, portaloos and plenty room to sit down and relax. We decided to stay standing and power on!
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 2:10pm, around 3½ 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 back towards the registration marquee which now housed a hot food area: unlike last year which was a free-for-all buffet, this year there were two queues to two identical counters, and servers who dished out portions. There was a beef stew type dish, chicken curry, and a vegan option of a very hot and spicy chilli con carne; plus bread rolls and butter. Wooden cutlery was provided; and again mum was chuffed that the organisers had thought of vegans. We ate our food, had another free beverage from the hot drinks station with a branded cupcake, and then made our way back to the tube, returning to our homes by 4:30pm.
Once again, I absolutely loved this event and I know that 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 3 February 2018