Long Walks and Gadget Melt Down

I’m still struggling with the temporary transition from running to walking and yesterdays outing with multiple gadget failure just hammered another nail in the coffin. Today’s gadget doesn’t support the long drawn out monotony of a distance walk and if I can’t play with technology I’m just not that bothered.

Walking is too pure for my liking, it’s designed for the rugged “at one with nature” types who aren’t scared by the hours of silence and EMF solitude.

Yesterday’s program started with a slow yet painful parkrun at Bushy Park, followed by a planned hike along the Thames Path from Hampton Court to the Embankment. I was gadget free for the parkrun due to a late arrival at an extremely packed venue which meant I was bundled out of the car without the usual accoutrements of hydration packs, Garmin, jelly babies and iPhone.

I survived.

Leaving the park after a short interlude for champagne and the collection of gadgetry, I realised I had become disorientated and needed to engage the google maps app. The iPhone was at 97% and all was well. I spun in circles trying to orientate myself before following a bus heading in the direction of Kingston. I engaged the Runmeter app to record my GPS and submit my whereabouts and pace to my standby rescue vehicle (Lynn) and pressed play on the latest Audio book (The Art of Fielding).

Thames Path ice cream2 hours later I paused for an ice-cream and noticed that the battery life had shrunk to 27%. That’s pretty drastic when you are miles from home and feeling weary. At that rate I’d have barely managed 10 miles before being cast into a telecommunication black hole.

I sent out a single text with my last known location (Richmond) and my intended direction (East along the Thames), then switched the phone off.

That’s it, radio silence.

Just me and the rowers and the occasional kamikaze cyclist. It wasn’t long before I started my own entertainment, humming along to the pulsing in my throbbing toenails. My spirits were flagging as fast as the crappy iPhone battery.

I made it as far as Hammersmith before joining the prostrate sun seekers in a riverside park. I’d completed a total of 17 miles including the preliminary parkrun. I’d learnt a lot, not least that this 100k London2Brighton walk is going to be a killer. As we currently stand, I think I’ll be ready to quit at 50k and ready to be airlifted out at 75k. I need an endurance boost over the next 5 weeks and I also need to find a solution to the technical blackouts.

I have a kit bag that PC World would be proud of, including iPhone 5, iPod Nano (2nd Gen from the bottom of a very old drawer), an ancient Nokia N82, assorted car chargers and a plan to switch my iPhone with Lynns every 25k. The fact that the phone died before 15k is a bit of shock. I’m terrified of hitting the wooded areas of the South Downs sometime post midnight and losing all contact with my hope of escape.

Power Monkey ExtremeTwitter has been extremely useful on the subject of expedition style battery sources. The ideal power replacement for the hike would be these impact driven piezoelectric boots which would give my iPhone a boost with every step but unfortunately they don’t seem to have hit the manufacturing stage yet and besides I have just bought a new pair of boots for the occasion.

I am now coveting this expedition ready solar charger from powertraveller. The power monkey extreme holds enough juice to charge an iPhone 6 times over which ought to do the trick. At £120 its probably a bit too much gadget for one single day and I may have to sign up for another crazy challenge just to get my money’s worth.

www.rvops.co.uk has become my latest go to website for gadget ideas to help me cross the downs. It is a military themed site but has stacks of top notch kit that I might be able to find a little more space in my kit bag for. They have everything I need including lighting, map cases, solar iphone chargers, protein snacks, rain gear and a Bergen to squeeze it all in to.


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