On the morning of Wednesday 21st May 2014, I’ll awake in a Travelodge less than 2 miles from Wembley Stadium. My muscles won’t ache, my knees will feel fresh, I won’t be bored of the music on my iPod and silly little things won’t annoy me yet. Basically, I’ll still be excited about the challenge that lay ahead.
I’m aiming to head off from Wembley around 8am, giving me plenty of time to complete the first day’s miles during daylight hours. I want a minimum of 26 miles, but, all being well, I’ll have covered a small amount more. Here’s what day 1 is likely to have in store!
Ground 1 – Wembley to Loftus Road (Queens Park Rangers)
Leaving the Bobby Moore statue at Wembley Stadium, I’ll loop around the stadium and head south towards Loftus Road. It’s an easy 5.4 miles and should take me around 1 hour to reach. There’s nothing planned for when I get to QPR, so it’ll just a couple of quick photos, a quick refuel and depart for stadium number 2.
The only potential problems on this route would be the lack of space for the support car (aka. Mum and Dad) to stop, so I’ll be doing it without breaks and treat it as a slow warm up for the route ahead.
Ground 2 – Loftus Road to Stamford Bridge (Chelsea)
Continuing my journey south-east, it’s a relatively short trip across town to Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge. It’s short, but it’s a busy route, so once I leave QPR, I won’t be meeting with the car until I get to the home of the Blues. Again, there’s nothing planned for my arrival, so it’ll be a quick couple of photos, a boring update on twitter and Facebook and then onwards towards Craven Cottage.
Ground 3 – Stamford Bridge to Craven Cottage (Fulham FC)
I’m looking forward to this section of the run a lot. Not only is it the shortest inter-ground run of the challenge at 1.4 miles, but it seems like a decent area of the capital and will fly by compared to some of the later sections. Even though I’ve never been to the Cottage, my job involves a lot of work with Fulham FC, so I’m very much looking forward to visiting a ground that I see a lot of every day!
FFC have also been great in terms of publicising the run. I was featured in one of their matchday programmes towards the end of the season, something I’m very grateful for. Hopefully next season I’ll be able to make the journey down to the Cottage to watch Forest play there. Thanks to Katie and Tom at Fulham for their help!
Ground 4 – Craven Cottage to Griffin Park (Brentford FC)
The next 5 miles see me take on a decent route from the Cottage to Griffin Park. I’m following the Thames Path for 2.5 miles before leaving the water’s edge and heading west to Griffin Park. After leaving the path it’s a busy section of the route. I’ll probably also be starting to tire by this point as the mileage will have surpassed the half marathon length. Griffin Park is tucked nicely away amongst other buildings, so I’m hoping it’ll be easy enough to find my way to the stadium, but can easily see me getting lost here. It’ll also be lunchtime for sure! I can tell you already, from the comfort of my own home writing this, that the prospect of food is going to be an exciting one!
Ground 5 – Griffin Park to Kingsmeadow (AFC Wimbledon)
A fairly hefty chunk of road comes up next, but it appears to be a good stretch! 7.24 miles takes me directly south towards AFC Wimbledon’s Kingsmeadow. I’m planning on having a little rest in Richmond Park, as a good 3.5 miles of this section take me through there. As I get out the other side, I’ll navigate my way through a small built up area before ending up at Kingsmeadow. Nothing planned – photos, updates and then take myself east towards Selhurst Park.
This is the last ground of the day, but I would like to finish somewhere between AFC Wimbledon and Selhurst Park. I’ll aim for Mitcham, which should hopefully bring my mileage up to around 27 miles on Day One. All being well, I’ll have visited 5 grounds and will get a great feeling of how the rest of the run will be going!
I’m stopping in Chessington for the evening, which means that I have a short car journey back west to our accommodation. I will take the necessary measures to make sure I set off from exactly the same point that I finished at on Wednesday!
It’s getting very real now and I’m truly starting to appreciate the task that lies ahead. However, breaking them down to sections of the route helps break down the psychological barriers massively!