The Challenge – preparation and training

The Challenge – preparation and training

Next Saturday sees me on the starting line of the Seagrave Wolds 16 mile Challenge event. Preparation is thinking what to wear and carry for the walk and training means getting out of the chair and heading outdoors! Today #aussieEd on Twitter asked how do you unwind and relax? My reply was to read (maps), write (Blogs) and walk. Walk! Hey what am I doing reading tweets I need to head outside and do more training. Whilst preparing for the walk I selected clothing that I have worn before on previous Seagrave Wolds challenges and to trial stuff that I have bought since last year’s event. For both  items old and new this walk was a shake down to check or recheck that it works. Also I used experiences from walks I did during this summer especially the challenge events which I took part in. These were the 26 mile Dovedale Dipper and the 54 miles Three Forests Way. The former I completed and the latter I made it to 49 miles but then retired. Major issues for both events were footwear and coping with the heat. However, as the Seagrave Wolds Challenge is in early November the heat issue is unlikely. Footwear I sorted for the Three Forests Way but then underfoot conditions were hard and firm but for the Seagrave Wolds Challenge it will likely be wet and muddy. So taking all this into consideration I made my selection, put it on and stepped outside. Here is the run down on the performance on each item used today with a bit of history attached.

Troll Omni lightweight trousers

My go to trousers for walking built in North Wales from fabric made in Sweden.  Found them growing wild at Joe Brown’s Capel Curig shop. These are lightweight as they don’t have any zips and only have three pockets. The material they are made from is windproof, water resistant, breathable and durable. They have an elasticated waist with an integral belt, are a simple pull-on design and feature a gusseted crotch for freedom of movement. For me they are time tested as I have used them for many years and I have worn them for the last five Seagrave Wolds Challenge walks. Today they performed as usual in the changing conditions and even when it rained I didn’t feel I needed overtrousers.

Eddie Bauer lightweight 1/4 zip fleece

The oldest piece of kit I wore today which I bought around 20 years ago. Still in fabulous condition this item of clothing is made from lightweight Polartec fleece which I use predominately from November to February for technical walks. This is superb addition for a layering system as it is low bulk and flexible. Two lower pockets are well placed to warm hands. One of my few mail order purchases and obtained direct from Eddie Bauer when they had a base in the UK. Like the Omni trousers I have worn this on the five previous Seagrave Wolds Challenge walks. Provided effective warmth in today’s temperatures which averaged 5 degrees Centigrade.

Mountain Hardwear technical T-Shirt

Ideal for wearing under the Eddie Bauer fleece this T-Shirt is made from a technical fabric which has wicking properties. Found in the Rock Bottom department at Cotswold Camping a few years ago. Worked well today in the changing conditions encountered.

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic waterproof jacket

There are times when one is wandering around a gear store, in this case Ultimate Outdoors, looking for an item of gear one really needs but coming out with something one didn’t! Such was this case when I didn’t really need a new waterproof jacket but it was the half price that caught my eye. Plus of course this jacket was made from a fabulous sounding material Dry.Q. Reading the information on the hang tag I found out this is a four-way all over stretch fabric that boasts excellent performance in wet conditions. Made with a new fabric and half the price how could I resist? I couldn’t so I bought it. However, I did find sorting the hood out for a neat fit slightly time consuming whilst on my first outing with this jacket. So back home I made sure that I did tweak it to fit perfectly so all would be OK next time out. An essential for me when selecting a waterproof jacket is to have a chest pocket to store my glasses when it rains hard. This jacket has this and it is also a perfect storage solution when I take out my iPhone SE. Today it was worn throughout the walk and provided a comfortable and effective barrier to the wind and later the rain. The under sleeve zips allowed ventilation when needed.

Brooks Ghost 7 training shoes


Brooks Ghost 7 training shoes on the day I bought them

Searching for a couple of years for a suitable pair of what I can use as approach shoes I found these at TK Maxx this summer for a bargain price of £35 (SRP £125). Although not officially classified as approach shoes they have an excellent tread that suits off-road tracks and trails. I used them today over similar terrain to what I will encounter next week and found them able to cope with forest tracks and field paths. In the last two Seagrave Wolds Challenge walks I have worn boots but I am seriously considering wearing these as they are far lighter. The one draw back will be if the terrain is wet as these training shoes do not have a waterproof lining.

Asics black socks

Lightweight synthetic socks built for wearing with training shoes. Fast drying and offer reasonable support for their weight. Worn today with the Brooks Ghost 7 training shoes and no issues. Bought a few pairs a couple of years ago from Go Outdoors.

Lacoste underpants

After wearing Y-fronts for the Three Forests Way and having overheating problems in a sensitive region I went out and bought these. Tried them on pervious walks where I was out for up to three hours and they work fine as they did today. Another TK Maxx purchase with a great price reduction. Only problem is I should have bought two pairs!

Silk scarf

Finally, in previous Seagrave Wolds Challenges I have found I needed something to protect my neck when conditions are cold. I have always coveted a silk scarf but a mix of price, colour and pattern have been barriers. Then TK Maxx come to my rescue with a silk scarf made in India which was both cheap and in an appropriate colour with an abstract pattern. I needed this today for the start when I was warming up and I put it on to avoid a chill for the last fifteen minutes of the walk.

The walk

OK so that is the clothing sorted out but how did the walk go? Looking at the BBC weather forecast I knew that I couldn’t hang around too long as they predicted heavy rain at 12 noon. So I decided not to take photographs but just go for it. As the walk is just over seven miles it is almost half the distance of next Saturday’s Seagrave Wolds Challenge 16 miles walk so it will provide an indicator of my fitness level. Setting a fast pace from the outset I went through my timing points in faster times than I had done recently. However, I still wanted to experience the beauty of the countryside so I observed the scene as I walked along. One difference I noticed were mushrooms close by a recently reinstated field path. Then as I passed a section which still has small field systems I startled two green woodpeckers that were feeding on the ground. One was larger than the other so I am assuming that it was an adult with their youngster. The adult gave out the warning call and headed diagonally into a line of trees whilst the youngster took a straight line approach to the same tree line. What other birds in Britain are such a bright green with a vivid red cap? So wonderful to see and the first time I have seen green woodpeckers on this walk which I have completed over many years. Now back to the weather I felt the wind becoming stronger and then the first drops of rain. Looking at my watch it was 11.49am! Not a bad forecast then from the BBC only eleven minutes out! The rain that came wasn’t heavy as predicted but it was enough to need a waterproof jacket. The rain beading on the jacket confirmed it’s waterproofness. In the last fifteen minutes the rain became stronger so it was hood up and head down. As I approached my front door the heavy rain arrived but by then I was inside.

Further information:

Essential Endurance Walking Skills: What to Carry?

Essential Endurance Walking Skills: What to Carry?

Here are some of my personal views when deciding on what to carry on an endurance walk like the 75 mile National Forest Way. This is a trip which I am currently organising and planning to do the walk in three days. On each day I will be walking an average of 25 miles. In this type of activity it is necessary to keep weight down to a minimum to aid enjoyment. Selecting equipment needs thought as when conditions dictate it maybe that you are carrying and not wearing items of clothing. Here you need to be aware that the clothing you use is not only light in weight but is compact and can be easily compressed to reduce volume when packed. Please note that the following observations are based on an endurance walk undertaken in late spring in a low level environment close to human habitation over terrain that consists of public rights of way, paths and tracks.

Equipment for endurance walks


The rucksack is the container for your ‘life support system’ during the trek and this is the starting point to keep weight down. There is no need to have a pack that has all the extras like ice-ax fittings, attachment points for crampons and automatic cup holders! All these add unnecessary weight. For endurance walking in low level terrain I use a pack that has an uncomplicated design, is comfortable to carry, light weight and is around 26 litres capacity. The latter feature is to limit the volume and weight I carry. My current pick of the bunch for endurance walks, and indeed short rambles, is the Black Diamond RPM.  Access to the main body is via a zipped lid and inside is a bladder pouch holder and a front compartment. The lid has a zipped outside pocket and a zipped inside one which includes a clip to hold your keys etc… On the exterior are two mesh pockets each capable of holding a 600ml drinks bottle plus a lunch bar. The volume of the pack can be adjusted by an external draw cord on it’s front face which ensures everything loaded is held tight and close to your back.

Inside the Pack

Waterproof Jacket & Trousers

My most recent addition in outdoor clothing is a Marmot Artemis NanoPro lightweight water proof jacket. I bought this to replace my aging (and leaking) Marmot Preclip jacket. I wanted a lightweight waterproof jacket that had a chest pocket to hold my glasses when it rained hard! And this jacket has said pocket. I have now used it on several occasions including a full day of rain when on the 2014 Seagrave Wolds 16 mile Challenge Walk. It performed perfectly and I remained dry throughout the event. In contrast the oldest item of clothing I am still using is a pair of Rohan overtrousers. I bought these maybe 20 years ago and Rohan’s Waterlight H2P fabric still does the business. Although they are lined they are lightweight and fold up compactly.

Spare Warm Jacket

Again I am going back in time because my Marmot Driclime Jacket from over a decade ago is still the most effective and efficient garment to carry (and wear when needed) providing warmth and an element of wind resistance in a lightweight and compact package. I selected the jacket version with the full length zip to aid getting the garment on and off easily as the need and conditions required. The outer is wind resistant nylon and the inner is a lightweight polyester fleece.

Hat & Gloves

In weather that is forecast to be changeable, which is most of the time in England, I take a warm hat and gloves. These don’t need to be full on mountaineering styles but lightweight and effective ones. My warm hat dates from the last century and is made by Patagonia from their stretch Syncilla fabric whilst my fleece gloves are a similar vintage displaying the Icefall label. A baseball cap is useful just it case the sun decides to come out.

First Aid Kit

The usual stuff: assorted plasters, antiseptic wipes, pain killers and Compeed blister plasters are contained in a fold out pouch. Included in this pouch is a SwissCard due to having a pair of tweezers and a neat pair of scissors along with a tooth pick and nail file! As it is late spring and the sun may be out then it is essential to take sun cream. On recommendation from my daughter, who is a snowboarder, I am taking Piz Buin Mountain Suncream with a 50+ SPF! This provides protection not only from the sun but also cold, wind and high altitudes!


A trusted Maglite 2 AA cell torch is included in my pack. I will make sure it has a spare bulb in it’s tail and it contains fresh batteries. These essentials, the first aid kit and torch, are kept together in a Lowe Alpine U-shaped mesh bag and then placed in a waterproof bag.

Sit mat

A small piece of closed-cell foam is carried to ensure that when I need to sit down to eat or enjoy the view I can in relative comfort.


I will carry two 600ml plastic bottles of diluted orange drink for liquid whilst food will consist of a variety of snack bars and dried fruit. This will be supplemented along the way as the route passes through many villages that have shops and some have a pub!


On a low level walk like this carry spares is not really necessary. Also it is light until late and the essence is to keep moving at a reasonable pace hence not taking the kitchen sink! However, space will be found for a length of paracord which has a multitude of uses including make-do laces.

Keeping it all Dry

Plastic bags will ensure everything is kept dry.

Navigation Aids

Route Plans

I have downloaded the route guides from: have laminated them to protect them from the elements.


The relevant Ordnance Survey maps will be carried and used: 233, 245 & 246.


A Silva Type 4 will be taken along as a ‘just in case’.

GPS Receiver

I have one but still debating whether it is worth carrying in this kind of environment. OK it doesn’t weigh much but every kg counts in this game.

I hope you have found this helpful and I welcome comments.