I’m Doing Another Marathon (But Walking This One)
I’ve been thinking about the sponsored events we used to do at school. Swims, runs, walks, reads, rides, silences, and so many others, cropping up every few months, each one accompanied by a sponsor form on a mimeographed sheet of A4 to take home and use to wheedle as much money out of family and friends as possible for whatever cause we were doing it for.
Which prompts a confession for me: I’m the one who made a noise during the first year sponsored silence at middle school. Luckily, the teacher was looking the other way so she couldn’t see which of us it might have been who’d inadvertently spoken a couple of words and none of my table mates were willing to snitch on me and point out me as the culprit. I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to all my sponsors from then, and I pledge to learn the lessons from this forty-year old mistake I’ve kept concealed until now.
Moving on — moving back — one key part of all those events was being sponsored for how much you did, not just for the act of doing it. How many lengths of the pool could you swim, how many books could you finish in a month, how many minutes could you keep silent? Sponsorship was a careful negotiation between you and the potential sponsor: how much did they think you’d be able to do and how much were they will to risk being on the hook for? How much did they want to incentivise you to do well, and how much did they just want to give a few quid for charity?
I’ve been thinking about that recently because I’ve taken on another charity challenge this year. I’ve not been one to do lots of things like this and be continually asking for donations — this will be my first since the London Marathon in 2019, and that was my first since the end-to-end walk in 2006 — but I wanted to take this one on for personal reasons.
At the top of this post is a photo of Ullswater as seen from the summit of Hallin Fell. I remember taking that picture in June 2018, at the end of a week in Glenridding where we’d already done several long walks, bagged a dozen Wainwrights and wanted a walk and a fell for the last full day despite being tired. So we got the Ullswater steamer to Howtown, did a wide circuit of Hallin…