Have you ever thought how long it takes to complete the Offa’s Dyke Path? Some people 10 days, others say 2 weeks. The National Trails website even states they’ve heard rumours the 177-mile course can be completed in just 4 days…
It turns out the rumours are true, and the people to tell the tale are none other than our Managing Director, Dr Duncan Jenkins (also lead pharmacist at Dudley CCG) and James Cole, Senior Commissioning Officer from Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG.
On the 28th June 2018 at approximately 7am the two set off on their mammoth adventure to raise money for Building Schools in Africa. Organiser Andrew Hindle and his friend Phil joined the duo for legs throughout the day, with Phil running breaking a personal record and running over 30 miles. Along the route, essential support (food, drinks, moral support and medical attention) was provided by Andrew and his family (Linda, Amelie and Fraser), Dudley CCG Director Neill Bucktin and local GP Rachel Ward. Day 1 started in Chepstow and consisted of an incredible run of 47 miles and 9,000 ft of ascent in temperatures reaching 29 degrees until they reached Hay on Wye. Refreshments were taken in the local curry house, before the runners were then transported to Racquety Farm for a spot of glamping in geodesic dome tents!
Another gruelling 45.5 miles and 9,300 ft of ascent from Hay on Wye to Bishop’s Castle. With a little later start than planned, they reached their lunch spot (at mile 18, Kington) to be greeted by Duncan’s co-director, Rachel Jeynes, along with Claire and Lucy! One lime and soda and two specially requested BLT baps down, Rachel joined Duncan and Jim for the next 5.5miles over hilly tracks to meet the support team in Burfa.
Could we also at this point explain the temperatures all runners were dealing with. Thursday had broke records to be the hottest day in the UK this year, only to be beaten by the heat on Friday!
This nearly got the best of them, but the two carried on running and finishing the day at 11.30pm, with Andrew running alongside them in the dark for the last ridiculously hilly 5 miles. The team grabbed a quick curry takeaway and spending the night at Fox Holes Camping Site.
Coming into the third day of non-stop heat, the two set off early from Bishops Castle to get to Llangollen with the company of NHS colleagues Josh and Brendan who joined the run for first 3 legs of the day. The ultra-runners continued in gruelling heat along the Severn flood plains, then with more than a marathon ran, and Duncan talking gibberish, team doctor Rachel advised the 2 to retire for the day with risks of health becoming a serious concern. The team heeded to Abbey Campsite in Llangollen where they met up with friends and family for a hard earned rest.
With a very early wake up call there was only one thought in mind – a beer on the beach at Prestatyn. The last day was a short one with only 39 miles and 7,700 ft of ascent planned! The first 5 miles or more were in the early morning shade of the cliffs above Llangollen, but the temperature was soon rising to the previous day’s level as the runners headed into rolling countryside and more gruelling mountain ranges. Today saw some fresh runners join the duo, with Duncan’s Worcester Triathlon Club team mate, Mark Elliot joining for 15 miles. Andrew and 9 year old budding runner Fraser Hindle ran one of the hardest stretches over the Jubilee Tower and Andrew’s (grown-up) nephew Julian put in around 7 miles in the hottest part of the day. Jim rested for 2 legs to give a sore knee time to recover, but was determined to finish the challenge in Prestatyn. The last 10 miles required some digging deep, with both long-haul runners struggling with aches and pains. The final 2.75 mile stretch across cliff tops was celebrated with a group of 8 runners, including the fourth runner of the Hindle family, 11 year old Amelie. The group were in high spirits as they jogged down the streets of Prestatyn to the seafront for a celebration.
This incredible achievement couldn’t have been done without the determination of Duncan and Jim, the fantastic organisation skills of The Hindle family, Neill Bucktin and Rachel Ward; and everyone who supported and met Duncan and Jim along the way either for a friendly face to see or to run alongside.
To explain in more detail about the charity this is for, Building Schools in Africa is committed to building the future for communities in Cameroon. Starting in 2007 by building a primary school in Ntseimbang, they have now funded 289 classrooms at 93 schools but this great work cannot continue without the help of fundraisers from around the world.
Andrew has been fundraising since 2015 to help raise enough money to fund classrooms and a new latrine at the primary school of Ngouekong, water for the whole village and equipment for the Health Centre there.
To help with this fundraiser and to donate, please visit www.justgiving.com/teams/offasdyke