An interview with Cath and the Nijmegen Marches

What do you do to keep fit?

I play Squash, Badminton, do aerobics, exercise classes and go walking. Before the pandemic I was playing a number of squash and badminton matches every week as well as doing the other classes. During lockdown I was able to keep up exercise classes via zoom and facebook live, I also went for short walks every day.

You do such a variety of sports. What is your favourite exercise and why?

Definitely squash and badminton. I love the competitive side of it. It’s also very aerobic and there is a lot of skill involved. I look forward to getting back to this soon.

What are your most memorable moments in terms of sport?

There are a few. I did the moon walk, which is a marathon walked at night, to raise money for breast cancer. I did this 3 years in a row having never done any distance walking before training for the first.

Photos taken from two of the walks: Cath after finishing the Moonwalks 2006 and 2007 (top) and donning a Magic themed bra/at the start of the 2006 walk (bottom). The team did the marathon in 5.5 hours in the second year.

I also loved doing the Nijmegen marches. Its the largest multiple day marching event in the world. It runs every year in mid July. There are four days of ‘marches’. We walked on all four days for 25 miles with each route starting and finishing in Nijmegen. The marches have taken place since 1909. Originally it was a military event but now is mainly for civilians although military do participate and we saw a number of groups of them during our walks. It was a massive event and it felt like all of Holland came out to wave at you. It’s very well supported and an amazing atmosphere. We loved it and it was so worthwhile after all the training (we walked up to 50 miles a week in the last few weeks of training).

The Nijmegen Marches. Top left Cath collecting the Gladioli and medal given to those who finish. Gladioli are a symbol of victory since Roman times (Gladiators were thrown these flowers).

Have you had any injuries that have held you up?

I’ve had several relating to my feet! I’ve had issues with my ankles, Achilles and then had Sesamoiditis also. The tendon in my foot gets inflamed and stops you from walking. I had to see a consultant and a podiatrist. Eventually, however, I learnt to cope with it and also recognise the early signs of it coming on. I now know when my calves get tight I need to get them massaged and this helps to prevent the onset of Sesamoiditis.

I also have Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction. The SI joints link the pelvis with the lower spine and cause me lower back ache and leg pain. I injured it training for an indoor triathlon. I’ve had physio, saw a Consultant and had a steroid injection. I’m now working on strengthening my glutes which helps to prevent the back pain.

You mention an indoor triathlon. What was that about?

A friend of mine, Debra Montague, was diagnosed with ALK positive lung cancer which is not caused by smoking. She set up a charity to raise money and support ALK positive lung cancer patients across the UK. She has done so many things now for this charity and is an amazing woman. She decided to run an indoor triathlon and I agreed to join in. I started training in the August and we did the triathlon in the October. The triathlon raised £15,000 for the charity. You can find more information on the charity here: https://www.alkpositive.org.uk).

You’ve mentioned there was a group doing the triathlon. Do you feel group exercise has been a good opportunity to make friends?

Definately! The exercise classes I go to are now run by an independent company but it was previously part of a Rosemary Conley Franchise. It’s like an exercise company and social club rolled into one. As well as a massive range of exercise classes on offer including HIIT, Dancercise, Pilates, Yoga, Tone, Chair Fit and many more, they also organise theatre trips, barn dances, trips at home and abroad and we all also organise amongst ourselves to meet up for coffee or even breakfast sometimes after a class. We’ve been to Portugal and more recently Madeira. They organised some activities such as a boat trip to see fireworks but its also just an opportunity to socialise and have fun.

Cath relaxing in Madeira

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