This autumn, we’ve got an exciting program of developments going on at Sport Walk Towers and we’re hoping that we can give people some structure and motivation to help get through the long dark winter months ahead. The goal is for everyone to emerge out the other side ready to take on new challenge walks, whether they be organised events or personal challenges and to build a community of Sport Walkers, so that we can grow participation and enjoyment of Sport Walking in 2021.
The Sport Walk Show
Firstly, we’re preparing to launch a new monthly Sport Walking show on YouTube, that’s all about building community and providing inspiration, guidance and, most importantly, challenges for walkers at any stage of their Sport Walking journey.
A core part of the show will be audience involvement, so we’ll be looking for people to send in their favourite places to walk, their favourite challenge events and their own stories of finding fulfilment through Sport Walking. We’ll also be asking for contributions from viewers on gear usage and kit that has worked really well for them.
From our side of things, we’ll be producing features on walking locations, iconic trails, key challenge routes and useful guidance to help people become stronger and more resilient walkers. We’ll also have gear reviews, news items, training help and a more structured ‘things to work on this month’ segment.
We want this show to be for all types of walkers, whether they walk for fitness, practice a defined technique like Nordic or just live for Sport Walking challenges. We hope that it can become a hub for everyone, no matter what type of adventurous or fitness driven walking they participate in and also we want it to inspire and motivate everyone to hit the trails and get out walking, even if it’s not for a sporting goal.
Production of an introduction and overview show, where we’ll set out what we’re planning to feature, will start in early October and will go live on our channel towards the end of that month. We’re then hoping to turn around a show every month.
There will be more information about the show here when we have it.
Sport Walk Advocates
For some time now, we’ve been banging on about the wonders of Sport Walking and trying to encourage others to find the love for it, as we have. But there’s only so much we can do on our own and we’re also really keen to build a community similar to the trail and ultra running community, where people feel as much that this is their activity as we do.
So, we’ve decided to reach out to those who’ve reached out to us and told us how much they enjoy challenge walks and we want now to recruit Sport Walk Advocates to help us spread the word about Sport Walking and to share with their contacts and with those they encounter what they get out of Sport Walking.
Why advocates? Well, Sport Walking is still in its infancy really, in terms of it being a clearly defined activity (as opposed to when people just walk within challenge events or ultra races). We would ask for ambassadors but we kind of think that would be a bit presumptuous, in the sense that we don’t think we’re far enough down the path of building participation in Sport Walking to ask for ambassadors. So, instead, we’re simply asking for people who have found us, like what we’re trying to do and, most importantly, enjoy Sport Walking and Sport Walking challenges, to advocate for Sport Walking with anyone who’ll listen! We think this is more appropriate for where Sport Walking is at the moment (not where we want it to be in the future).
Sport Walk Advocates will simply be enthusiastic walkers who’ve found something they like in our concept of Sport Walking and who would like to see Sport Walking really become ‘a thing’. We’ll be setting up a page on here to give information to anyone who would like to advocate for Sport Walking, even if they don’t want to become a formal advocate and then we’ll be seeking advocates from across our network on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Strava.
We’re delighted that Kaz Pritchard of Stepping Out is our first Sport Walk Advocate! Kaz is based right on the doorstep of one of the most iconic Sport Walking routes – the Ridgeway, course of ‘Race to the Stones’.
Kaz is a Health and Fitness Coach who’s taken on her own personal challenges as well as organised challenge events and she’s also host of the Stepping Out Podcast. Her enthusiasm for Sport Walking is infectious and we couldn’t be happier to have her support in working to build awareness of Sport Walking!
Sport Walk Challenges
As Autumn is progressing and winter is approaching, it might seem like an odd time to be doubling down on creating and promoting Sport Walking challenges but in fact, it’s the perfect time!
During the summer months, it’s easy to find motivation to go out walking and (in normal times) there are lots of opportunities to take part in organised events. Autumn and winter are typically the time when motivation and inspiration are in short supply but in reality, there’s no reason to cut back on shorter challenge walks – anything up to marathon distance – either as a part of a structured training plan for next summer or, simply, to get out on the trails and keep challenging yourself.
Structured winter personal challenges can be hugely beneficial both in terms of building strength and resilience to help you on a major summer test and to give you an important psychological boost during the dark days. But our challenges aren’t just for Christmas, they’re for life! Sorry, just had to be done!
All our Sport Walk Challenges are time or distance based and so they’re not pinned to being either summer or winter challenges – it’s just a question of choosing a challenge that fits the amount of time you have at that time of year. Of course, if you’re picking something for winter and want to replicate what you might experience during a long ultra, you can take advantage of the fact that it gets dark early and get that ‘all day and half the night’ experience.
We’re also starting to film some video profiles of challenge routes which will accompany some of our challenges and routes. A good example is our first video profile of the Clarendon Way from Salisbury Cathedral to Winchester Cathedral through the Hampshire hills and across the River Test. It’s a stunning route but it’s also nearly bang on marathon distance, so it’s a great first major test for anyone not ready to take on an ultra AND it’s also a route and distance that (in theory) can be walked all year round (it might be a bit muddy in winter though).
Through our Sport Walk Challenges, we’re aiming to give people a whole range of structured tests to take on at any time of year and as frequently as they want, so that they can embed Sport Walking as one of their main ongoing activities, not just something to take on once or twice a year at a major ultramarathon event.
So, we have quite a busy few months ahead but with our full focus now being on growing participation and awareness of Sport Walking and providing challenges and challenge routes that anyone can take on anytime, we’re excited about what the rest of the year and then 2021 will bring!
If you’d like to become a Sport Walk Advocate and help us grow Sport Walking into a vibrant community, we’d love to hear from you. The first step would be to reach out to us on Facebook, YouTube or Instagram and let us know that you’d like to get involved and we’ll help you get started. We have nothing to offer at this stage other than our gratitude but you’ll be in at the beginning of all this and will have the satisfaction of knowing that you helped to make Sport Walking (what we think could be) a hugely popular adventurous activity for everyone.