George walks 500 miles for Motor Neurone
Walking 500 miles is not for the faint hearted. But it didn’t stop George Barlow, Bath Healthcare Co-ordinator from completing a staggering 30km a day across some rough terrain through France and Spain. We sat down with George to find out what motivated him to tackle this huge challenge whilst raising over £1200 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
George, tell us a bit about the walk?
The walk started in a little French town of Saint Jean Pied-de-Port, just south of Biarritz. I walked all the way across the north of Spain to Santiago de Compostela (although I went on to the coast which was an extra 120km). The walk itself is a Pilgrimage walk that has been travelled for over 1000 years by people from all over the world to reach the City of Santiago where the tomb of St James' body lies. Supposedly St James was sent there by Jesus to preach the word of God in the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal).
As a pilgrim in the medieval times, people would return from their walk with a shell to prove that they had reached the coast but now pilgrims go to Santiago with the shell to signify they are a pilgrim. We also had to carry a pilgrims passport which needed to be stamped every day at least once. This was so that we could get our Compostela (certificate) when we reached Santiago, and also to prove that we were pilgrims when checking into hostels.
What motivated you to do this walk?
The motivation was doing it for charity as my Grandmother passed away from Motor Neurone Disease last year. Also the physical challenge of walking 30km and more each day was very a very exciting idea.
How did you manage day to day doing this by yourself?
I actually met so many people along the way that I was never normally alone unless I wanted some time by myself for a few hours. So there was a lot of motivation from the people you were surrounded by which helped the mental challenge of the walking - you learn to enjoy your time with people!
What was the best thing you saw?
I think the best thing I saw was either the many sunrises across the mountains each morning. Or the sunset over the Atlantic ocean when we reached the very end of the walk after a very long day, it seemed very symbolic.
Did you ever find it tough at points?
Yes! The toughest day was probably when we walked 42km...it took us 12 hours! One of the other tough days was when I injured my Achilles tendon; I had to rest for a day, with my friends going ahead and then proceeded to limp for the next 6 days, probably covering about 110km in that time.
Did you ever find it physically draining?
Most of the walk was physically draining but I learnt how to recover after a day of walking; lots of water, magnesium tablets and eight hours of sleep was a must! There were a few days where I really did not want to walk but I would been stuck in the middle of nowhere so I basically had to.
Have you got any more crazy adventures planned?
There is another Camino in Japan I would like to do but in a few years’ time. If I can find the time and money I would like to walk the Pacific Crest Trail in America. It starts at the border of Mexico and goes right to the border of Canada - It's 2660 miles long!!
Michelle Gorringe, Managing Director said, “Well done George, you completed an impressive challenge. We are very proud to have you as part of our Newcross family. You raised an incredible amount”
If you would like to join our growing Newcross team you can view their vacancies here.