Reflections on the #185milewaffle
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When I undertook to walk 185 miles I assumed I could do it, but I didn’t actually know. After the first five days I was seriously concerned that while the spirit was willing, various bits of my body might be less so. In the event, everything held together and all the clichéd-but nonetheless entirely valid-consequences applied…nothing ventured nothing gained, no pain no gain, and a real sense of achievement! I set a highly ambitious target of £15,000, inwardly hoping that I might be able to raise £5-8k through my own connections and that the balance might be achieved through the Tailster network and it to some degree going viral.
As I write this 10 days after finishing, we have raised £11,609 including gift aid and I know there is some more to come. Given that as things turned out, we didn’t manage to penetrate different or wider audiences, I am fantastically grateful to all friends and acquaintances who contributed so much. Our overall target has been to raise £15-£20,000 during Year 1 to get the charity off the ground. Given £4k already raised from other sources, we will be able to do that.
There were certainly moments when things took their toll-both mentally and physically: 185 miles to a committed timetable is demanding. However, the overall experience was great. It really is an interesting and unique perspective on an unusual cross-section of England – from the buzz of London’s South Bank to the open spaces of Gloucestershire.
The concept of 15 different dogs in 15 days really caught people’s imaginations, but the logistics involved were something of a nightmare. My nadir was a day involving a 15 mile walk, with two and half hours driving each side of it, picking up and returning my doggy friend. All the issues involved – dogs, taxis, route planning, organising life as I moved out of reach of home etc – meant that sometimes I was a little too distracted really to enjoy the pleasures of the walk.
That said, it was both a pleasure and fascinating to see all the different facets of Thames life – enhanced by one enormous blessing: in 15 days I suffered only three hours’ rain.
My companions-canine and human
The dogs definitely made life more complicated – but as any dog owner knows, hugely added to the fun of the walk. It would be unfair to pick a favourite – they were all excellent companions, but top dogs in terms of numbers were Spaniels: three Cockers, two Springers and a Cockerpoo.
Another observation is that while I was happy to walk on my own (and indeed the speed with which it came together meant organising anything beyond that was largely impossible) having someone walking with you is a great boon. Not only the obvious benefit of companionship/conversation, but also someone with whom to share the experience, and to distract one from the aches and pains!
And will there be an encore…?
Would I do it again? The answer is I would. Will I do it again? Possibly!
I think this served as an interesting pilot exercise. Every charity needs to conceive and run its own events: the ideal is to build a concept and turn it into an institution. We’ll review this one and then see what we might do…. possibly a different route, possibly inviting different people to join in with different dogs-the possibilities are legion.
Thanks to all who have been involved, but I couldn’t have done it without…
- Vicky putting up with this taking over two months of my/our life
- Gawain and Jenny being constantly there with their support
- Karina’s incredibly industrious comms and postings backup
- Sophie and the guys at Tailster for the partnership and the dogs
- John Bartle, Ben Fennell and the folk at BBH
- Sally and Simon for providing a home away from home out West
- Camilla for help and support way beyond the call of….
- Adrian and Hetty for similarly rendering extraordinary help and hospitality
- Mike, Andrew, Martin and Tom for walking stages with me
Beyond that, my heartfelt thanks to all those friends and acquaintances who donated so incredibly generously. Similarly to all the owners – and the dogs – who made the 185 mile dog walk possible…and to dear Waffle for inspiring the concept!
A note about what we do at Tailster.
Tailster.com is the online website that helps dog owners find trusted, local and insured dog boarders, sitters and walkers at times like going away on holiday, ad-hoc emergencies or for regular walks. If you need a sitter, click here and let us know what you need and we will find the right dog boarder or sitter for you quickly.
You can also apply to become a dog walker or dog boarder in order to help our dog owners looking for dog boarding and walking services.
If you need a pet carer, make a request below. It’s free and it only takes 30 seconds – let’s see who we can find for you.