Friday, 20 October 2017

Thames Path walkers step up to raise funds for charity

HUNDREDS of walkers descended on Henley on Sunday to raise money for various charities.

HUNDREDS of walkers descended on Henley on Sunday to raise money for various charities.

The town was the final destination of the 100km (62 miles) Thames Path Challenge, which started in Putney the previous day.

Kevin James, of Luker Avenue, Henley, arrived at 4am after walking the Thames Path continuously for about 16 hours and was greeted by his family.

He said: “I managed to get through two pairs of socks, six litres of sports drink, a litre of tea and a tube of Deep Heat, which I used to massage my legs during the night to keep them supple in the cold,” he said.

“I never want to see a cashew nut, piece of dried pineapple or peanut M&M again.”

Mr James, who raised £5,000 for Dogs for the Disabled, said the event was challenging but satisfying.

He said: “It was extremely foggy between Maidenhead and Culham Court, which led to a few surprised cows along the way. It was funny getting to Runnymede and thinking, ‘yes, I’m on the home straight now — only 50km to go’ because a few months ago that isn’t something I would have considered saying.

“The last piece from Marlow to Henley was particularly exhilarating, resulting in me having to call my wife and asking her to drag the kids out of bed an hour earlier as I was really flying. They were all there for me at the finish, which really lifted me.”

Inspector Mark Harling, head of Henley police, completed the challenge with his friend John Donachy, a police inspector in Newbury.

They finished in 27 hours and raised £850 for the Make a Wish Foundation and more than £1,000 for Helen and Douglas House respectively.

Insp Harling said: “It was incredibly tough. At night it was difficult because the paths had tree roots growing through them and it is not particularly even but it was fine — it is just a case of putting one foot in front of the other.

“We started at 9.30am and arrived in Henley at 1pm on Sunday. When I finished I had a bath and something to eat and then when to bed. I had Monday off but was back to work on Tuesday.”

Bettina Phillis and James Barr, both from Wargrave, also took part. Both ran in aid of Cancer Research and Great Ormond St Hospital and raised almost £2,500.

Ms Phillis was the first female finisher in just over 10 hours while Mr Barr finished in 10 hours and 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, 132 people took part in the annual Walking for MileS event, which started and finished at the River and Rowing Museum on Sunday.

The event, now in its fourth year, is expected to raise more than £10,000 for the Berkshire Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre in Reading and the Henley MS support group at Brunner Hall in Greys Road.

The walkers could complete one of three routes, according to how far they felt able to manage.

Organiser Jackie Malcolm said there was a lower turnout than in previous years, which she blamed on the poor weather forecast, but was still pleased with the event.

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