SPONSOR OUR WALKERS.
This is a really easy way to do it. Your support will greatly encourage them to add on the miles. We are aiming for £25,000. [Sponsorship total]
Click on a name to go to a walker's sponsorship page. Or click here to sponsor the event as a whole.
Our Walkers over Wales
Stacey Reason, (plus Jorge the last week) from Toronto, Canada
Andy Williams, from Singapore
Charlton Thear, from the Canary Islands
Dan Chambers, from San Diego, California
Andrew Wakelin, from Wales
Walkers elsewhere with sponsorship pages
Dianne Berryman, Australia
Other walkers elsewhere
Margaret Carter, Kidderminster, UK
Summer Hamilton Brown, USA
Tanya Rafford-Raper, Australia
Bonnie Wynne, New South Wales, Australia
15th July 2010
Group who thought they couldn’t walk complete 100 miles
A group of sufferers from the rare muscle disorder McArdle disease this weekend reached the 100-mile point on their 30-day, 210-mile, ‘Walk Over Wales’ from Llandudno to Cardiff Bay. In the process they have conquered both Snowdon and Cader Idris, but taking three or four times as long as an average walker.
McArdle is a rare metabolic disorder that means heavy exercise is painful and can cause muscles to seize up and break down - even leading to kidney failure. Many sufferers think long-distance hiking must be impossible for them. The walkers want to raise awareness of the condition, which often goes undiagnosed, and raise money for the research charity, the Association for Glycogen Storage Disease.
The ‘WoW’ walkers have learned lessons about the condition on the way, especially when Stacey Reason, 40, from Canada had to be taken into Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor. They were able to discuss the problem with world-leading McArdle’s expert Dr Ros Quinlivan of Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt hospital in Oswestry, who joined them for a day walking in Snowdonia. They realised that Stacey’s fear of height on the Glyders ridge had caused muscle-tensing and led her to push herself too hard, leading to a muscle breakdown known as rhabdomyolisis. Dr Quinlivan said, ‘It’s been really informative to see what McArdle’s sufferers are capable of despite their condition, and also what causes them problems.’ Stacey has recovered well and continued the walk south – but avoiding paths that would give her vertigo.
The initial three walkers, Andrew Wakelin, 61, from Wales, Stacey from Toronto, and Dan Chambers, 18, from San Diego in California, were joined at Dolgellau by Andy Williams, 48, from Singapore, in a multi-national walk, aimed at raising awareness of the disease. More walkers are joining them as they cross the mid Wales hills and the Brecon Beacons to head down the Taff Valley to Cardiff, where they plan to arrive at the waterfront Welsh Assembly chamber, the Senedd, on 2 August.
Their progress has been followed with interest worldwide on the Walk Over Wales blog, www.agsd.org.uk. People are sponsoring the walkers through the website, and they are now half way to their target of raising £25,000. Some filming of their experiences will be part of a project to produce online information to support people with the disease around the world.
The torrential rain and deep mud have been as much of a challenge as the gruelling route, but the WoW walkers have managed to keep going by keeping to a steady pace and following careful rules they have drawn up to suit their condition. Two or three times over-exuberance has led them to the verge of muscle spasm, but they have learnt to pace themselves and ensure a slow start on the flat to avoid anaerobic muscle use that leads to spasm and muscle breakdown.
Andrew Wakelin said, ‘Kids and young people with undiagnosed McArdle disease are often at risk of bullying by peers and PE teachers when they say they can’t do things. If we help more kids to get diagnosed by drawing attention to the disease, and show them what they can achieve, all of us will be really happy. And we’ll have done it while walking right across one of the most beautiful countries in the world.’
The Walk Over Wales is the brainchild of Andrew Wakelin, who lives right in the middle of Wales near Builth Wells. He loves walking, but it can be tough for him, as it is for other sufferers of the disease. He planned the route for the whole hike, which started on 2 July at Great Orme Head near Llandudno.
Growing up, Andrew couldn't do cross-country runs and was once hospitalised after trying a tug of war, but he carried on walking - even climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in his thirties. It turns out that he was doing just the right thing for his illness, doing slow, steady walking to keep his muscles from wasting away. Nowadays, the regime Andrew worked out for himself is recommended to newly diagnosed younger patients.
Andrew is the UK coordinator for the association that supports McArdle sufferers. He says, 'It's always been my ambition to walk over Wales, and I was planning a quiet solo challenge, taking a month to cover the mountains from one end of the country to the other. But then it all changed! I can't believe that when they heard what I was doing so many other McArdle sufferers and supporters wanted to come to Wales to join in.'
Andrew says, 'I never knew why I couldn't keep up with my friends as a youngster, and I probably did a lot of damage to myself trying. I was 30 before my McArdle Disease was diagnosed, which is typical. We know more about the condition now and can give young sufferers good advice, so it's really important that children get diagnosed early and learn how to avoid damaging themselves. I hope our walk will raise awareness, as well as collecting some sponsorship money for the McArdle charity... and of course boosting our own confidence and giving us a real sense of achievement.'
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Association for Glycogen Storage Disease (UK) LimitedRegistered Charity No 1132271