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This weekend we enjoyed our annual British Nordic Walking convention, followed by one of BNW's four annual race challenges. The convention is always a very interesting and informative day, where the BNW instructors can come together, to not only learn more about the latest work of INWA, our International Nordic Walking Federation, but to learn from each other. This year we looked at everything from teaching children, to helping mental health patients, Cancer suffers and those with Parkinsons. A local Park Run ambassador came to talk to us about how they would like to get Nordic walking more involved, trying to educate people that it's not just for runners it's for everyone (see Mary's Parkrun blog). INWA's exciting news is they are organising a World Cup Race series, which just highlights how internationally recognised Nordic walking has become.

British Nordic Walking launched the British Nordic Walking Challenge Series in 2014 with two events, one in Bristol and one in Swindon. The Challenge Series this year sees four events, in Nottingham, Cardiff, Swindon and last weekend at Black Park in Buckinghamshire. The format follows the INWA (International Nordic Walking Federation) race rules and distances. Entrants can challenge themselves to complete either a 5Km, 10Km or 20Km distance, usually off road, giving them a chance to compete against other Nordic Walkers.

Black Park is the perfect location to hold such an event, especially on a damp and windy day. The woodlands provided much appreciated shelter, and wide pathways meant that everyone could walk at their preferred pace. Nordic walking events are always incredibly friendly, due to the shared mutual appreciation of the sport. Everyone taking part is there for a challenge, whether it's about just completing the course, enjoying an event with friends, breaking a personal best, or even to trying to win. It is what you make of it.

Sadly Mary was not able to join me on this occasion. Due to time commitments I opted for the 10km race, having previously done the 20km this time last year. Knowing that it was half the distance I had done before and that is was well within my capabilities, I set off at a pace which I new was about my limit. With the advantage of a long stride length and a few brazil nuts in my pocket I managed to finish in 1 hour 15 minutes and 30 seconds, finishing first amongst the ladies! The sense of achievement left me throughly elated, as I'm sure so was everyone who took part. Certain parts of my body are still reminding me of my hard work, but this is only testimony to how many muscles the British Nordic walking technique uses.

My average speed was 4.96 mph, so for me, my next challenge at that distance, would be to hit an average of 5 mph, and if my calculations are right I would need to finish less than a minute faster. Hopefully with the wind behind me, one day I might…...

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