Surrey blind veteran to tackle 100k ultra-challenge walk after losing 11 stone
22 March 2016 10:31
A blind veteran from Tadworth is set to tackle a 100k ultra-challenge for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.
Alan Walker, 57, is challenging himself to walk from London to Brighton to thank the military charity for its support and to keep fit after losing 11 stone and qualifying as a gym instructor.
Alan joined the Army in 1976 and served 14 years as a Qualified Chauffeur Bodyguard in the Falklands, Germany and the UK. He drove members of the royal family, including a sister of the Queen Mother.
Alan lost his sight on Christmas Day in 2012. He was hospitalised with a pneumococcal infection in his eyes and brain, which caused him to become completely blind in his left eye and have only 30% sight in his right.
He says, "When it first happened, I thought my life had ended, and I thought about ending it a couple of times."
Alan began to receive support from Blind Veterans UK in 2013 and, since then, has lost 11 stone by eating healthier. The charity has supported him in retraining as a gym instructor and he has done two Great South Runs - a 10-mile running event in Portsmouth.
He says, "I didn't exercise after going blind and it's through Blind Veterans UK that I'm where I am today, which is much healthier. They've helped me turn my life around."
Alan lost the weight in two years by going to the gym every day. He says, "I just decided one day that my weight wasn't me. The hardest bit was walking into the gym. I thought I could do ten minutes on the cross trainer and I couldn't even do five.
He adds, "Now I've lost the weight - I'm the slimmest my wife has seen me!"
In addition to help with fitness, Alan has also received training in living skills, such as chopping food with visual impairment, from Blind Veterans UK. He says, "They brought back my confidence and I've never looked back."
Alan hopes to complete his 100k ultra-challenge walk in under 23 hours and will be completing a Triathlon five weeks after his 100k ultra-challenge walk. This involves a 10-kilometre run, a 45-kilometre bike ride and a one-mile open swim.
He has recently attended a training event at the Blind Veterans UK Brighton centre where he walked 36 miles in two days and received nutrition advice. He will attend two other training events before the summer.
Registration for the 100k, which will kick off in Fulham on Saturday 2nd July, is currently open with a registration fee of £62.50 for the 100km. For those not wanting to walk the full distance there is also a relay option available for teams of four walking 25k each. Teams taking part in the relay have a registration fee of £110. The all-inclusive entrance fee for participants includes lunch, dinner and breakfast at three rest stops, snacks and refreshments along the route and a free event t-shirt.
The London to Brighton 100k challenge is Blind Veterans UK's biggest annual fundraiser and takes participants from a starting point in south west London, along the banks of the Thames, through countryside paths in Surrey, Sussex and the North and South Downs to the charity's centre in Ovingdean, Brighton.
To sign up for the Blind Veterans UK 100k challenge, please visit www.blindveterans.org.uk/100k.