Guest blog by Mark Stanley, organiser of The Games Way
The London2012 Olympic Games is going to be brilliant. I wish I was one of the elite athletes that the eyes of the world will be glued to, but… well, I’m not! So I came up with an idea to give all us non-athletes a way to join in the Olympic spirit and take part in a challenge we will remember for the rest of our lives
Using an ever-growing collection of OS Explorer maps I have created a new 184-mile long distance walk along existing footpaths between the Olympic venues of Weymouth and Portland, home to the sailing events, and the Olympic Park in London. LOCOG has agreed that it will be called The Games Way.
The opening walk of The Games Way begins on July 28th 2012 in Weymouth, the day after the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. The route is beautiful and historic, taking in the gorgeous Jurassic Coast, ancient castles, the New Forest, Winchester, and on into London along the Thames and the South Bank, and up to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford.
We are going to complete the walk over 12 days, doing 14-18 miles a day. Each night the walkers will stop in a campsite or guesthouse and catch up on the sporting highlights in the evening.
It has taken me 2 years, 2 pairs of boots, and a replacement OL22 map after a VERY wet weekend in the New Forest to finalise the route. My old OL22 map got utterly soaked through and although I carefully dried it out, the damage was terminal so I turned it into badges which I gave to readers of the walk2012 blog!
I can’t wait for the walk to start now. It’s going to be great fun – loads of people outdoors, getting fitter, making new friends …and of course there will be medals! My favourite stages are the first two days along the South West Coast path for drama, the New Forest for wildlife, and the last day of course for the craziness of London after 11 days of peace and quiet.
You can check out the route on the brilliant OS Getamap website. Better yet, why not join us on the opening walk? It is free to join us and you can bring your friends. You are welcome to join us for a day or two, or for the whole route if you want. Nearly all the days start and end near a train station so it is easy to join in with us, or do it over a series of weekends.
Some walkers aim to complete it in a lot less than 12 days, and I know of several runners who reckon they can knock it off in a couple of days!
You can find out more about The Games Way, including walking directions, campsites and accommodation, and sign up for the opening walk at http://walk2012.co.uk