Name: David Hawkins
Age: 80 years’ young
How did you first hear about Just Walk?
I have been walking for the last 10 years and initially started on the ‘Big Foot’ walks and then they told me about the Just Walk challenge. So, I looked in to it further, gave it a try and that was it, I have been hooked on the walks ever since.
What distance do you normally walk?
I always walk the 60km route and aim to finish around 9pm. I chose this route so I could have something to aim for, I find it’s also a great barometer check for my health. I enjoy long distances and setting myself challenging goals.
How many times have you taken part in a Just Walk challenge?
I have participated in Just Walk for the last 8 years and last year out of 75 people walking the 60km route I came in the top 25 – not too shabby!
What made you want to get involved?
It started as I wanted to stay active and keep fit but having walked for so many years now I love the social aspect of the walk, making friends along the way and meeting lots of new and interesting people. I’m a bit of a rebel so also want to prove that age doesn’t mean anything, you can achieve whatever you put your mind to.
I also raise money for my local hospice when taking on these Just Walk challenges, it’s a great way for me to give something back. My daughter is a Macmillan nurse and last year she supported me on the walk, she waved me off at the start, met me halfway through the route and then was there at the finishing line which was so lovely to see. She also made me a scrapbook afterwards for my 80th birthday full of photos of me throughout the walk as well as messages and drawings from my family which I will treasure forever.
Who do you normally walk with?
I normally walk on my own so I can set my own pace that I’m comfortable with and then just chat and meet up with people as we walk along. The social aspect of walking was an unexpected surprise but is one of my favourite parts of the walk.
Do you do any training for the challenge?
Yes, I live in North Malvern, Worcestershire so I find walking along the stunning Malvern Hills ridge which keeps me fit. After Christmas and through to the date of the Just Walk, I walk to the ridge and back every week which is approximately 20 miles as well as walking with my local ramblers group. I also enjoy spinning classes down at my local gym, I like to stay fit and active as you can probably tell.
Do you have a top tip for anyone who has just signed up for this year’s event?
Train – you absolutely must do this so you are fully prepared, especially for the BIG 60km route. Include hill walking in your training as there are a few on this route and you don’t want to be caught unawares.
It is also worthwhile investing in decent kit, so walking boots and socks are essential and a lightweight backpack. Don’t make the mistake I made a few years ago where I carried an excess weight in my backpack which caused me considerable problems.
What is your best memory from the day?
I have so many but one that sticks out in my mind is a memory from about 3 or 4 years ago where a group of soldiers (I think cadets) where walking the 60km route like myself and they shot off at the start, all guns blazing (not literally). About three quarters of the way around I found one leaning against a fence, he couldn’t walk and was saying he couldn’t finish. I spoke to him and managed to help motivate him to continue. We then came across 2 more of his group with cramp and serious blisters. Again after talking to them, we all continued together and I felt great pride watching them cross the finish line together arm in arm to the acclaim of the crowd. I followed behind them at a discreet distance. They thanked me for my encouragement, and said that without my support they would have not finished.