Congratulations to Intrinsic’s Elaine Missen (left of photo) on completing the Alzheimer’s Society Trek26 South Devon Coast challenge. Elaine made it round, up and down the demanding course to raise funds for the charity close to her heart.
We caught up with her at the finish looking fresh as a daisy despite minimal training and the blistering heatwave.
When did you first sign up for the Alzheimer’s Society Trek26 South Devon Coast Route?
I registered in November 2022 but barely gave it another thought until colleagues asked about my training in the weeks approaching.
How did you prepare for the trek?
Erm … next question 😃 I kid you not. Anyone who knows me well knows I’m not one to take training advice. I spent a lot of time saying “How hard can it be?” To which friends and family exchanged knowing looks and asked if I’d heard of contours. The only concession I made was to wear in my ‘special trainers’ on dog walks. Oh, and sport the hiking socks my colleagues kindly bought me for the occasion.
Did you trek on your own?
No, I did it with my friend Mel (aka Merilyne Davies). Infact it was originally Mel’s suggestion. My dad was in the process of getting his diagnosis at the time so the charity was on my radar. Admittedly, a significant part of me thought “Oooh yes, a girls’ weekend away without the children, what’s not to like?!”
How did you feel at the start line?
Tired, after a long drive from Essex to Devon and then an early morning start. Typically we were running late and were the very last participants to set off on the 26-mile trek. On the day we didn’t have much time to consider what was ahead of us. In hindsight this was probably a very good thing.
What was the route like?
Beautiful. The scenery was amazing. There were some tough hills to climb, but the hard work was rewarded with magnificent views. The route is almost entirely along the South West Coastal Path with incredible views out across the sea throughout. You could also look across bustling Brixham Harbour, the River Dart Estuary and Dartmouth.
What was the weather like?
HOT!!!!! (For the record, the UK was in the sweltering grip of a heatwave with temperatures in parts hitting 30 degrees.)
Did you have any low moments?
Definitely, but not the sort I might’ve expected given my complete lack of walking training. The lowest point was missing the “3 miles” to go marker so one mile felt like it went on forever!
What kept you going when the trek got hard?
The fact that people had sponsored me to complete the walk, especially given the current financial climate. I felt like I had to complete the trek in a reasonable time for all of them. I thought a lot about why I was there and how Alzheimer’s Society research and support helps families like mine. Plus, I definitely realised that I’m both fitter and a lot more competitive than I gave myself credit for.
Do you have any highlights from the day?
Yes. Seeing some of the most magnificent views and then that glass of prosecco waiting for me at the finish line.
How did you celebrate?
By sitting down and taking off my socks whilst supping on my much needed prosecco.
What would you say to someone thinking about doing something similar?
Would you do it or something like it again?
Absolutely. I’m already looking into signing up again. Maybe even attempting the charity’s Brecon Beacons 26-mile trek. Like Devon wasn’t hilly enough 😅
Did you learn anything about yourself from the experience?
I’m a lot more competitive and a lot more resilient than I give myself credit for. I may not have seemed the most ‘caring’ friend at times when I wanted to push on fast, nevertheless I boosted Mel with humour and energy when she was low. I suspect the extra energy came from the double dose coffee and green tea tablet I downed at the start.
Did you find it difficult to do the fundraising?
The charity sets the fundraising target at £300 but it really wasn’t as hard to fundraise as I’d imagined. I definitely put off starting as I know things are tough for a lot of people right now. Asking for money to walk a few miles felt a bit cheeky. But as the charity sent its ‘2 weeks to go’ reminders, I knew I had to. After all, fundraising was a key point of the exercise. Dementia touches the lives of so many people, it’s a cause donors can relate to. I’ve been blown away by everyone’s generosity which has helped raise over £600 and counting. I’m extremely grateful, thank you!
- At the end of 2022 Elaine’s dad was formally diagnosed with dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and Parkinson’s Disease. The disease is cruel and has already claimed both her grandad and uncle. Elaine undertook the 26 mile fundraising trek to help spare other families from its devastating impact.
- If you wish to make a donation to Elaine’s Alzheimer’s Society Trek26 JustGiving page please click on this link, thank you! https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Elaine-Missen?utm_source=sms&utm_medium=fundraising&utm_content=Elaine-Missen&utm_campaign=pfp-sms&utm_term=42cad66d85d44678a5ff82330dc87dcb
- Alzheimer’s Society offers help and hope for everyone living with dementia. Visit their website at https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/ or contact their Dementia Support Line on 0333 150 3456. If you are affected by dementia, worried about a diagnosis or a carer, trained staff are ready to give you the support you need. Opening hours: Mon to Weds: 9am – 8pm, Thurs and Fri: 9am – 5pm, Sat and Sun: 10am – 4pm.
- Alzheimer’s Society Trek26 South Devon Coast takes place on 8th June 2024. Trek26 Brecon Beacons is scheduled 22nd June 2024. Register at https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-involved/events-and-fundraising/join-event/trekking/trek26