MOTHER and son duo Melanie and Sean Harvey, from Charmouth, completed their own version of the Jurassic Coast Challenge to raise funds for cancer charities, despite the official event being called off.
Having completed the London MoonWalk – a 26.2-mile overnight walk around the capital for breast cancer research – with her daughter Bethan three years ago, Melanie’s son Sean persuaded her to take on the 60-mile Jurassic Challenge with him.
The Jurassic Coast Challenge is one of the toughest events in the Ultra Challenge Series – with 2,600m of climb across the 100km.
The walk starts at Poole harbour, taking the Sandbanks ferry to Studland before heading to Corfe Castle. It then follows the coast path, tackling the ups and downs of Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, en route to Weymouth, the halfway point, and then continues to the far end of Chesil Beach, down into West Bay, before reaching the finish line in Bridport.
Melanie and Sean started training for the event in February, with Melanie joining the Lyme Bay Nordic Walking group and Sean opting for shorter, more intense exercise programme that he could fit in around his A-level studies.
However, with the arrival of COVID-19, the event was first postponed to the end of September and then in early August it was cancelled.
Melanie and Sean were offered a place at next year’s event, but with Sean having already made plans for his gap year, the pair decided to go it alone.
They walked continuously for almost 24 hours to complete the Jurassic Challenge route from Poole to Bridport in the first week of September, only taking short breaks to refuel with food delivered by family at set meeting points.
Taking the challenge on alone did throw up a few challenges for Melanie and Sean.
They walked seven extra miles after being diverted off the coast path around Lulworth as the surrounding military ranges were closed so, by the time they reached Weymouth in the early hours, they decided to catch a lift across the town to ensure they remained safe on the busier roads.
The extra miles completed earlier in the day meant they still walked the full 60-miles.
Commenting on the final few miles of the challenge, Melanie said: “The final leg was very painful; we were tired and it was quite cold. We pressed on, dreading the drop down to Freshwater, and the walk through the caravan [ark, but knowing we only had a few more miles left.
“After the climb up to the golf club, we were both dreading the steep drop down to West Bay and it proved to be as bad as we feared! We both staggered across the beach to van, relieved it was all over. Dawn was just rising – it was 5.40am.
“We had made it in one piece and although I would not want to do it again, it hadn’t been as bad as I thought it would be, I was tired and my feet hurt, but the rest of me felt fine.
“We couldn’t believe how fast we had walked and knew that it would not have been possible without the support and care of Paul, who was always where he said he was going to be, with food and drinks ready and waiting.
“We collapsed into the car and drove home, quickly showered and got into bed just after 6am truly battered but having conquered the challenge.”
Melanie walked in aid of Cancer Research UK, so far raising £899, and Sean for Macmillan Cancer Support, raising £605.