Wednesday 15 June 2011

ITEX tips from a good friend and a funny read!!!

With only a few days to go until the ITEX walk Jersey we thought we’d share some walking and training guidance from one of our good friends Keith Ponter. Even if you’re not planning on doing the ITEX or any long distance walking, it’s still a great read and one we often read through just for a good giggle… Just note, while we tried to stick roughly to the training we never did hit 16 miles in 4 hours so I think it might be taking us a little bit longer than Keith managed it in 1999 and 2000!

The Itex Walk

Annual charity event been running about 15 (?) years and raises some £ 100k plus for charity every year.

Average number of walkers is now 1,500 and statistics show about 1/3 complete the whole thing.

Its not a timed event or a competition. You can bin it when you want to, just tell the head shed between check points by mobile you have withdrawn. No shame, its tough.

You can use it as a personal challenge if you want or a fun day out.

My track record (see 45 page disclaimer below).

1997 – 29 miles binned it at Grosnez with chronic lactic acid legs & blisters despite being ‘fit’ and doing triathlon training at the time (does not involve walking !)

1998 – 36 miles – binned it at La Pulente after being tempted by a ’99 with 2 flakes (calorie deficit) and heatwave  35 degrees. Not mentally strong enough and was too slow to avoid the harsh mid-day heat at that point ( was 10 hours in ). That was a bad day, there was this (mirage) woman in an ice cream van, middle of the beach, saying ‘ wud ya like flake in that luv ?  

Seriously, I helped a guy in who had lost it on the bay with first to second stage de-hydration. He was in shit state, mumbling and weaving like a drunk. They sat him in the shade, poured warm water and boiled sweets down him. After 15 he was o.k. By then I had taken up the offer of a free 99 from a six foot white rabbit called Harvey and binned it. Nothing like looking good in the Oakleys with an ice-cream and personal pouka.!

1999 – finished in 13 hours – hard going but had only just actually trained in year 3 by walking rather than relying on running & cycling achievements. Had a good partner, a former DS in the job here. We trained it out by walking and nailed it together. He got in before me because he ‘had’ to run the last five miles – he simply could not walk any further because of muscle pain and I could not run because of bad calf cramps– forgot to chuck down the dioralyte like a man possessed until Grosnez. How stupid was I.

2000 –  Decided to really beat the thing. Did over 150 miles walking training over the ground (cliff paths) from February, load carrying between 35lbs and 80lbs ( 2 walks 120 lbs before tapering off). No blisters, no pain, came in joint 7th.  The only people in front of us were those who had run it (Jo Blackistone, Johnny Searson who started with us but got bored because we were too slow for him ! so what was new….)

2005 – got to Wolfs’ Caves with Sophie P. (21 miles). Retired because we were creamed and it was very hot.

2006 – Got to Fliquet  (11 miles) retired because of serious pain from back injury 2005.

2007 – Sophie P. got to Grosnez (29.4 miles like me in year 1 ten years ago) with her friends. Me popping up here and there shouting fatherly encouragement from the sidelines !


Walk, walk and walk, if you can with a weighted pack. Do miles over the hardest terrain on the north coast for fitness but you have to beat the boring flats bits as well.

You have to cover the whole course during training and beat it mentally. Most people worry about feet and blisters, that’s the least of it. Best way is to do a section backwards and forwards i.e. a 16 miler is from Elizabeth Terminal to Longbeach and back. Flat and boring but you will beat it mentally. Timing 4 hours return. On the day you only have to do it one way ! Half as easy.

Here’s the training schedule I used in 2000 – aim to average 4 mph even over the hills so that’s quicker (run/walk) on the flat and downs and slower up the hills. The whole walk is 48 miles so if you aim for 12 hours completion in training you will be in the ballpark. If you go too slow it kills you mentally and physically and, if it gets hot, you want to be at La Pulente (36 miles) by 12  or Latest. The heat can be a killer.

Week 1 – Walk from Elizabeth Terminal to Longbeach and back (16 miles/ 4 hrs)

Week 2 – Walk from Longbeach to Bouley Bay and Back (16 miles but tougher / 4.25hrs)

Week 3 – Walk from Bouley Bay to Devils Hole and back – Weep and ask yourselves why ! (Only 16 miles but harder – 4.25hrs)

Week 4 – Walk from the Devils Hole to Grosnez and Back – not so bad – there’s a pint at the end of it !. (Only 16 miles -4hrs)

Week 5 – Consolidation – walk from St. Catherines to Wolfs Caves and Back (18 miles- 4.5hrs ) weep again.

Week 6 –  The ‘fan dance’ benchmark. Walk from Greve De Lecq to White Rock and back (26 miles – try and do it in 6 hours – push it hard – tab the hills and run the down sections). Sleep for a week.

Week 7 – Walk from Grosnez to Beauport and back. Attack this one hard and try and beat it. Walk in the park by now, only 16 miles- 4hrs !

Week 8 – Walk from Beauport to Elizabeth Terminal and back (about 14miles) but a good combination of flat and hills - 3.5hrs max.

Then you have done it all the hard way.

After that do the following - you need 2 cars now so rope in some friends, drop off at one point and drive to start so you can be driven back at the end- one way trips in the direction you will be going on the day covering the ground.

Week 9 Elizabeth Terminal to White Rock (13 miles)
Week 10 White Rock to Greve de Lecq  (13 Miles)
Week 11 Greve De Lecq to Beauport (14 miles)
Week 12 Beauport to Elizabeth Terminal ( 8 miles)

Total 48 miles.

You just need to give up Sunday mornings and get up early starting training in Feburary
If you start walking at  07.00 the latest you should be finished even on the long drags is by 13.00.


Good walking boots, worn in ( not trainers or flip flops and a denim pencil skirt – yes I have seen that….he was ugly too)
Thin inner sock.
Thick outer sock.

If you want to harden your feet, cover with surgical sprirt every morning and evening.
When doing a training walk put sand in your inner socks.
Never take your boots off during a long walk – your feet will swell, blisters enlarge and you are in a world of un-necessary pain. Sweat does not cause blisters – soft skin and bad or fresh footware does.

On the day of the walk cover your feet with Friars Balsam , let it dry and strap your feet up with zinc oxide tape on vulnerable areas, toes, heels and balls of feet. Test this out on a later training walk – see if it works for you.

Hydration & diet are PARAMOUNT but hydration is VITAL otherwise you will go down.

During training – loads of pasta and high carb stuff.
Eat loads of fresh food in the week before the walk- fruit, raw veg & tons of bananas (potassium build) as well as your usual carb loading.
Carry water, dioralite sachets, ibuprofen, ‘Progold” or equivalent glycogen replacement fluid in quantity.

The check points have as much water as you can drink, juices and crisps. I advise against eating in the early stages (beware of the satanic bacon rolls – they will tempt you !) because digestion pulls blood from your body, slows you  down and you can get cramps. Treat yourself with a mars bar when you reach Beauport. The sugar will kick you the last few miles home !

You do not want see-sawing blood sugar levels when you  are walking – the glycogen replacement powder you choose should control that and give you even input.

Travel light-  bum bag , sunglasses, sun hat, body waterproof, emergency thermal body wrap and mobile. Don’t take bags, it’s a pain and sorting that shit out at check points  kills your timings. Hit a check point, book in, book out and move on .Go out there and finish it. Rubbing your feet at check points will get you nowhere apart from sorry city and add a couple of hours to your timings. Your choice. I had kitkat and sit down at Big Vern’s in year 3 and suffered for it!

Above all else enjoy it!

The ‘advice’ is unsolicited and not to be relied on. The author accepts no responsibility for his own or the sanity of those that take any notice of it. Anyone who does the walk has to be barking anyway woof woof ! The basis is my own experiences of re-learning the hard way what I was taught 25 years ago by people who could eat 48 miles for breakfast carrying their own body weight. Temps well passé !

The hardest part for me has always been, and will always be, getting up before the rest is easy (yar !)

They will give you a certificate (sorefeeticate) for your efforts.

Rgds K

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