Walking one ‘Just Walk’ challenge is a great achievement but to have walked every single one since we started back in 2007, like our lifelong walker James Kinsella, is simply amazing! James usually undertakes the 20km route but in 2016 he raised the bar and took part in the 30km event, and to celebrate his 70th birthday in 2019 he has already decided he will take on the 40km challenge!
Raising money for his chosen charity, one that is very close to his and his family’s hearts is all the motivation James needs to carry on participating in Just Walk. Read on to find out why fundraising is so important to James and why he takes on the Just Walk challenge each year…
“Having worked in the NHS as a qualified nurse for many years it was only after semi-retiring in 2002 that I found the time to start walking. I thought it would be a good way to stay fit and healthy as well as something that I could do anywhere and at any time, especially around the parks of Crystal Palace in London where I live. It also fitted in well with my new job at the Courts and Tribunal Services where I’m not as busy as I was, and now have more time to spend on myself.
I was born and lived in Ireland until I moved to London when I was 24, so one of the things I now have time to do is go back and visit family and friends every few months for a catch up. During that time I love to walk and explore the countryside. I’ve always been an active person and enjoy being outdoors, especially after having grown-up on a farm. I’m used to taking myself off in to the countryside and I have to say, it doesn’t get more rural or picturesque than the wild and windswept landscapes of Ireland. I also used to enjoy amateur athletics in my younger years and more recently I have taken up mountain climbing - I think now with all the walking I do, I am probably healthier than when I was back in my 30’s and 40’s.”
“For me, age isn’t a barrier and I really feel that it shouldn’t stop you or hold you back from trying new things. Look at me, I’m a great example that you can achieve anything if you set your mind to it. I’m quite an emotionally driven person and for me, it took my retirement and unfortunately the passing of my brother when he was on a climbing trip to Mt Kilimanjaro in Kenya, to show me that life is too short and to make every day count, which is why I started researching various challenges I could take part in. Another big reason I wanted to participate in a challenge, to be able to fundraise and give something back to a worthwhile charity, is for my very special grandson, Riley. Riley was born with a cleft lip and palate, and had to endure various operations, all at a very young age. 6 years ago Riley had a very serious asthma attack which ended up with him being admitted into intensive care. Thankfully with the care and support of the staff at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital he is now a well, happy and thriving little boy. We are so grateful to the hospital as a family so this is my way of supporting them and saying a massive thank you. His mum and dad also set up the ‘Riley Carp Challenge’ annual charity fishing competition which raises much needed funds for the Evelina Children’s Hospital who treat and care for many brave children like Riley and has successfully raised over £3000 to date.”
“I sometimes surprise myself that I have achieved these Just Walk challenges. I remember my first walk, it was a really emotional moment when I completed the route as I was so pleased and proud that I was capable of finishing, and now I wouldn’t miss taking part in any of them. That said, it does take a lot of training and hard work beforehand so I feel fully prepared for the challenge ahead. I usually walk 20 miles a week around the parks in London and then leading up to the event I increase the distance each week up to a mileage of about 35 miles a week. Over the years this is what I’ve found to be the best training that suits me and ensures I am fit and healthy going into the walk.
My best training advice for first timers, is to start walking about three months before the event and make sure you add hills into your training as there are quite a few on the Just Walk routes which can be quite a challenge, especially if it has been raining beforehand. Invest in some good quality hiking boots and socks as well; you need to look after your feet and keep them supported and protected from blisters. On the day itself, take it all at your own pace, start off at a leisurely pace and find your rhythm, but most of all - enjoy it! It is such a fabulous day with the stunning Sussex scenery all around you, wonderful people to talk to, and great charities being supported, you can’t help but smile and feel positive.”
“I like to walk by myself to start with, so I can find and set my own pace and then I usually meet people along the route to have a chat with. The great thing about this day is that everyone has a story as to why they are walking, so it’s nice to hear and it just makes you think ‘I’m so glad I did this; people are so kind and caring’. The atmosphere is really great, there is always someone to keep you company; last year I found someone to walk with and we crossed the finish line together, which was nice.
I’m quite impatient so although the walk isn’t a competition I am quite competitive with myself and usually finish in the top five of my group. My quickest 20km time was 3hrs 20 minutes, and last year’s 30km took me 5hrs 20mins – I am hoping to knock a half hour off that in 2017! Having said that, I don’t walk to get a personal best, it’s all about finishing the race for my chosen charity. If I can knock 5-10 minutes off my best time that would be an added bonus.”
“Every year I look forward to Just Walk and think that they won’t get any better but they do – every year beats the last one. I have so many touching memories especially over the last 10 years with people from all walks of life supporting and helping one another. This is why I think Just Walk is so special, it brings out the best in people and I for one, can’t wait for the 13th May next year to see what my 11th Just Walk has in store.”
We want to wish James the best of luck for his 30km Just Walk this year, we are sure he will be as amazing as always and can’t wait to hear all about it at the finish line – plus we’re already looking forward to celebrating his 70th birthday with him in 2019.
If you are feeling inspired after reading James’ story 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.