The application form is in!

by backpackingbongos

A brave new step here in Bongoland as I have finally decided to enter the TGO challenge next year.  The form was posted today.  I have a very bad track record with the Challenge.  Firstly in the late 90’s I kept failing the draw for some reason, at the time I blamed it purely on the fact that I was still at the fag-end of my twenties and you have to be an old beardy to do the challenge eh?  I finally got accepted in 2001 when foot and mouth struck, the challenge was initially cancelled and then brought back at the last minute in a mini form.  That year I walked from Aviemore to St Cyrus and had a blast.  The area we could walk in that year was severely restricted which meant it was a very sociable crossing as we were all bunched up together.  Even though my route was only 92 miles I still managed to get the biggest blister of my life (my blister was matched by the worlds heaviest boots I chose to wear).

I got accepted again in 2003 but ended up retiring after only four days, this I put down to horrible weather which led to very low morale for this solo backpacker.  I crossed some exceptionally wild country between Lochailort and Invergarry, memorable mostly for the wrong reasons.  I spent a whole day struggling all of 5 miles between Oban Bothy and Glen Pean, with everything being so awash with water I walked barefoot for a good mile of it.  I still don’t think I have emotionally dried out from that day!

Anyway next year I will be up for it again and if I get on it I have a much easier start planned, no heading off into really tough pathless terrain on my first day this time.  I aim to keep my main route as low-level and easy as possible for the first couple of days until body and soul have got into the swing of things.

Now I just need to join a gym and get rid of that belly.

Enough of this wistful dreaming, I need to make the draw first!

17 Comments to “The application form is in!”

  1. Hope you are selected and have a great time. I was going to apply but my wife’s health is still not good enough for me to away for two weeks. I’m hoping I can do it in 2012. I might do a solo mini “challenge” for one week next year.

  2. Good reminder to get mine in the post ASAP.

  3. Thanks Robin, hope that your wife’s health improves soon. I can highly recommend the route that I did last April, Evanton to Ullapool – a great week in the wilderness that one was.

    Martin, don’t keep putting it off as the closing date will creep upon you without you realising

  4. Just a word of advice. Join a gym but sign up for the spinning class and a hard step class or go out running. I work as a personal trainer and get people through challenges. These classes work if you want weight loss and cardio. I teach spin class and they are great fun for many types of people. Do it now! Following in your footsteps I am now up to blog number 5. Again thanks for the inspiration.

    • Hey Warren. I have heard of spin classes, a friend did one and she was unable to walk to her car afterwards! I did not realise Gyms were so expensive now that I have done some research, I think I will go for the council run one a minutes walk from where I work, otherwise most seem to want £50 plus a month from you. Bloody rediculous! Good to hear that I was an inspiration for something, there is plenty on your blog for me to read now, a bit behind on my blog reading recently though 😦

  5. Surely you don’t need to join a gym. Just doing what you do in the outdoors should be more than sufficient. Shouldn’t it?

    • It would be if I could get out more Martin which at the moment is once a fortnight at most, that unfortunately is the only exercise I get. Otherwise I sit on my bum all day!

  6. It must be really demoralising to be in terrible weather for days on end and very hard to decide whether to keep going when there is no sign of improvement. That’s one reason why I’d hate having a long walk prearranged for a fixed time.

    I’ve said before that aerobic fitness is not particularly important for long backpacks (I have very little!), the most important thing is simply to be accustomed to it and have the stamina, fit or not.

    • Geoff it can be very demoralising, but all my long walks have to done during a fixed time, a pitfull of the old 9 to 5 I’m afraid! You can usually guarantee that it will rain on that long planned for backpack. Stamina is very important but now I am getting a little older I no longer have the energy I used to and those hills are harder work. Plus I am developing ‘girth’!

  7. Geoff, I’d say it helps a lot though. Over the past year my aerobic fitness has shot through the roof due to lots of running and cycling and it has a massive effect on my walking ability. When I went to the Lakes last year backpacking over 5 days we managed 45 odd miles. This year over the same amount of time we walked 100 miles. I can only draw from that the conclusion that aerobic fitness is a massive contributor to how easy backpacking seems.

  8. You can walk on the flat about 8 miles a day with zero aerobic ability. If you go up a hill with a weight on your back I think you have to think of it more as a sport. Your heart rate will go up and if you have not trained your aerobic system it will be hard when it could be very easy. If you have a light pack but carry 10 extra Kg of body weight then that compounds the problem. 30 minutes a day of structured aerobic work out has got to be a help. I do a lot of competition cycling but I tour a lot and so I train for it. Put a heart rate monitor on when backpacking and you would be amazed at what you are asking your body to do. So get fit lower your body weight and you will fly.

  9. Warren & Northernfall – that is what I hope will happen with a little extra fitness. Effortless backpacking is my ultimate goal along with the ability to walk more than 10 miles before wanting to crawl somewhere and go to sleep! I do have a vague excuse for lethargy though as I am Hypothyroid, energy is very often in short supply.

  10. I work as a personal trainer and spin class instructor. I take part in endurance events both cycling and triathlon. If there is any fitness thing or nutrition that I can help you with then please let me know. You are not short of goals and projects which is a great start. You only have till Jan 24 as you know as I am off round the world on my bike with my tent.

  11. Have you tried going for a run after work? A (say) 20 minute run on a known route can be quite useful as a ‘wind down’ from work, as well as good exercise. It’s quicker and cheaper than a visit to the gym, though sometimes wetter. If you get into the habit it can be addictive.
    Not for everyone, but it would certainly keep you fit.
    Just a thought.

  12. Thanks for the offer Warren, I may well take you uo on that in the coming months.

    I have thought about that Martin, my work is less than 3 miles from home, a good distance for a quick run. However it is along some horrible main roads. I could wait till winter darkness, run on the pavements with the ipod on and pretend I am somewhere else!

    • Why don’t you just walk to work? Six miles a day, or even two or three times a week would improve your fitness. If you want to get super fit, just carry a few boulders to work in your rucksack:)


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