Challenge for animals

Walking 100km was a challenge I couldn’t wait for. When I was able to additionally combine this challenge with raising money for animals, I was all the happier. I knew that I was very well prepared, but I also knew that walking this distance in less than 20 hours would be an additional obstacle. So when I presented the idea to ​​Vegan Shops Gallery, I admit that they were skeptical. And most of all, they were afraid whether they would put too much effort on me by deciding to take up this challenge. Fortunately, I managed to convince them.  And the challenge was: I will walk 100km in less than 20 hours and Vegan Shops Gallery will pay 500€ to the shelter of my choice.
It was the first Mega March in my life. For the first time I covered 100km in completely unknown conditions. And I must admit that Stuttgart is really demanding. Three days before the march, the organizer changed the route, which looked much worse than the first version.
I was very well prepared because sport is my passion and I train every day. The average daily distance I have covered in the last 3 months is 19 km. And this distance includes both walking and running. During the Mega Marsch I was not going to run because it is not an ultra marathon, I assumed that I would be going at the fastest pace for me, up to 50 km without taking a break. Of course, I had a backpack with the most necessary things in accordance with the organizer’s instructions, very good and previously tested shoes, strong motivation and a clearly defined goal – I will do it because I decided so and because Vegan Shops Gallery would pay 500€ for EBW Lebenshof (animal shelter that I chose). On Saturday the weather was nice and at the starting line I was greeted by a beautiful sun and warm words from the promoter who wished me good luck. The formalities before the start took literally a few minutes and now I was fulfilling my decision.
I covered the first two stations, i.e. a 55 km section, very quickly, replenishing only the water supplies and taking fruit for the road. The organizer prepared the stations wonderfully, which were primarily served by very nice, cordial people. They were fresh, delicious fruit because as a vegan I wasn’t interested in other meal options at this stage. I felt very well, I had a lot of strength and no pain. On the way, I met a fantastic man. Due to the fact that we have many common interests, we had a great conversation, and after a while it turned out that he is also a vegan – MEGA 🙂

And so I came to 3 stations at 55km. There I decided to take a short break, eat a delicious vegan soup and move on. Then came the first crisis. The thought that I was only halfway filled me with sadness and doubts. I decided to look at the situation from the positive side, that is, 55 km is already behind me and I covered it in a short time, thanks to which I can slow down a bit. This way of thinking definitely improved my mood, a short break with warm, vegan soup gave me strength and after a while I was on the road again with a smile on my face.
Between the 3rd and 4th stations, it was possible to refill the water on 67.7 km. It was already dark when I was walking in that direction, but the company was great, the flashlight illuminated my way and I got there without any problems on my part. Another problem emerged, namely really poor road marking by the organizer. A few times I went in the wrong direction and had to go back, at the next fork we analyzed with a group of several people and determined which direction to go. This is how we got to 67.7 km, where I took a short break and went to station number 4. It was also the first time that I felt muscle pain in my left thigh and tired feet. There was much less space in the shoes, which meant that my feet were swollen and my toes felt a great deal of discomfort. I thought that this distance would show whether the shoes I bought are suitable for such challenges and that I have been on the road for several hours, so my body has the right to demonstrate its objection.
And that’s how I got to 4 stations, which is 84km, and I felt exhausted. I did not feel sleepy for a moment, but I was tired of the body and the strong pain of tired feet, which I had the impression that they do not fit in my shoes anymore. Despite the crisis, fatigue and pain, I kept repeating to myself in my head that it was only 16 km, that after all, 84 km was already behind me. After the break, soup and collecting the remnants of motivation and strength, I set off to overcome the last episode. My pace has definitely slowed down and I was convinced that I was moving very slowly. My gratitude was as great as my surprise when I saw the 90 km sign. I was touched and happy that it was only 10 km away, I knew it was very close. It was a really long 10km, especially since I had to climb the last mountain two times due to bad markings. It made me so angry that my pace was fast again. I was exhausted, in pain, but the speed with which I was going completely contradicted it. Now I know that I needed this stimulus to mobilize the willpower and higher awareness that brought me to the finish line. There I received a medal, diploma and heard that I do not look tired at all.
I covered 106km in 19 hours 16 minutes.

About 90km I was asked if I would be there next year. I replied that this is not the best time for this question because all I can think of is to go over and finish the current Mega Marsch. There was a thought in my head I would definitely never do it again.
Now I can answer – I will, because what I experienced was amazing and I mean the full range of emotions. I have learned the lessons and conclusions, I know how to prepare much better for the next 100 km trip and you know, you will not find it in any guidebook. You have to experience it for yourself.
Out of 985 participants, only 349 passed the finish line. I am so grateful that I got to the finish line, that I helped the animals, that I took up this challenge and achieved my goal. Vegan Shops Gallery were so impressed with my achievement that they transferred as much as 800€ to the EBW Lebenshof! Iam wholeheartedly grateful for it because it thanks to Vegan Shops Gallery I was able to combine this march with doing something good for animals.
What we are capable of goes far beyond what we have in our image of ourselves. The strength we have within us is frightening. That is why it is worth trying new things, challenging ourselves because it develops us, teaches us, makes us feel alive, gives our life meaning and value.
Believe me – YOU are bigger than you think.

Joy Forst