It’s 8:30 on Sunday morning, and Andy is already halfway through today’s walk. We’ve said we’ll pick him up at Avebury at 3:30. It might even be earlier.
It’s gone so easily.
Last year, it was a strain. He pushed himself very hard, told us that he’d do it all in four days. He wore himself out, walking and didn’t take care of his feet when they started to blister.
This year, he’s cruised it, doing over the recommended mileage every day without strain.
He’s not any more fit…if anything he’s less. He’s still using the same equipment (but with better socks). Physically, nothing has changed.
Mentally, however, everything has. Last year, Andy was using the walk to test himself…he wasn’t entirely sure of himself, this new, mature self who had just reached the age of 50. We, like most of our generation, had rather assumed we’d die young, of rock and roll related causes, nuclear disaster or by other means. Listen to the music of the 80s. We were all about despair. We had no intention of becoming middle-aged and no way (except by denial – 50 is the new 30) of coping with the concept.
But this year, he’s got no need to test himself. He’s coped with some of the toughest challenges a man has to face…the illness and death of a loved one who depends on your care. He’s written and read beautiful eulogies at his parents’ funerals. He’s kept his work life and his life here at home going through it all.
Last year, Andy raised nearly £600. This year, he’s only raised about £30.
But this year, it’s just a walk. He’s got nothing to prove.