Below, Kim recounts the tale of the day:
The days leading up to the event were not promising with unwelcome, unseasonal heavy rain giving rise to conditions which Rebecca Adlington would welcome. As a result the 2012 Trailwalker offered participants the wettest and most challenging conditions in the event's history. Arriving at the start area at 7.00 am the state of the support vehicle parking area gave a taste of the swamp-like conditions to come.
The Trailwalker comprises 550 teams who together aim to raise over £1m for Oxfam and the Gurkha Welfare Trust - this year is expected to have reached £1.3m in the final analysis. Each team comprises of four walkers, of which at least three must finish the 100km course (that's 62 miles in old money) for the teams' time to be registered. Of the 2,200 entrants 1,900 made it to the start (what did those missing 300 know?). We were on station in good time for our allocated 9.00 am start, and we were joined at the start by Jeremy Robinson, from Charles Stanley Asset Management who was walking with three friends. Jeremy's team finished in 26 hours 44 minutes.
The first few miles were steady going in bright sunshine. But by the time we reached Checkpoint #1, 9.6km in, the clouds descended and steady drizzle, turned to steady rain, which turned to gales, lashing rain, thunderstorms and lightning - and us marching on holding aluminium walking poles!
Despite the conditions we were able to maintain our target pace, with the objective of completing the course in under 24 hours, but it became increasingly clear that the elements were conspiring against us all. The mud and lying water were making the going ever more tiring and, in places, treacherous. Then to add to the challenge Checkpoint #3, at which we were to have met our support team for our first hot meal, was closed due to flooding. But we were fortunate that through foresight and efficiency, our crew were able to set up at Checkpoint #4, at 37.6km, and prepare a meal for our arrival (just before that Checkpoint was also closed, due to the depth of the mud). Fortified with a hot meal and dry footwear we set off again shortly before 5.00 pm. And the rain kept falling!
Although the South Downs may not be the highest of mountain ranges, the South Downs Way does present some gruelling climbs and a number of potentially treacherous descents. The aggregate climbs over the length of the course is 2,500 m (or 8,202 ft) - for comparison Ben Nevis = 1,344m, Snowdon = 1,085m.
By Checkpoint #5, the 50km mark, the ascents and descents and adverse conditions were taking their toll. 14 % of the field failed to progress past halfway. And "Where's the Pub" were certainly feeling the effects. My feet were now blistered and a brief feinting fit at Checkpoint #6 meant that spirits were at a low ebb as nightfall fell. But our team leader Andy kept us going along at a good pace, as we continued to pass teams flagging by the way side.