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Welcome to Doodlecat, where we enjoy the pleasures of life (with a slight bias towards the outdoors). This page is regularly updated with news and views plus information about any additions or changes to the various parts of the site. It acts as Doodlecat’s Blog too, so the odd rant considered opinion may pop up from time to time.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

It's a Family Affair

Three generations of Emsleys at St. Cyrus

This photo shows three challengers finishing their TGO Challenge crossing at St Cyrus in 1999 (my finish point that year as it happens, and my very first Challenge). The photo is a typical end of walk snap, but it holds a couple of secrets...

A further study of the photo may reveal a family resemblance, and so it should, for on the left is Derek Emsley, and the chaps to Derek's right are his son, Richard and grandson, Nigel. To date, this is the only three generation family crossing.
Richard Emsley in action
And walking certainly seems to be in the blood for the Emsleys. Derek used to be a race walker, Richard, who is now 56, was placed 3rd in the 20K National Race Walking Championship on Saturday, and his team won gold in the team championship. Kevin, another son who walked with Derek in '98, is a Centurion (awarded for walking 100 miles in under 24 hours). In 1996 Derek's wife, Marian, took up the Challenge.

But it's not just immediate family members. Over the years Derek has introduced many others to the TGO Challenge, sometimes intentionally, but on one occasion, totally by accident.

He completed his tenth crossing in 1992, so in '93 he had to have a year off, and, being the sort of chap he is, set off in his camper van to provide tea and butties to weary challengers at various points across Scotland. Parked on the West Highland Way Derek had a brew on, when a lone walker came into sight. Derek hailed him and welcomed him into the van.

"Are you on the walk?"

"I am indeed"

"Where are you headed?"

"Fort William ... er...where else?"

The walker, of course, was not a challenger at all, merely a vagabond walking the West Highland Way, but, by the time Derek found out, the scoundrel had gorged himself on tea and biccies, and continued to do so whilst Derek told him all about the Challenge. Yes folks, that lone walker was none other than Alan Sloman, bon viveur, raconteur and blagger of biccies. Derek Emsley is the man responsible for introducing him to the challenge, a burden that he carries with dignity.

Although Derek no longer undertakes the walk, his influence continues, for it was Alan that introduced me to the event in '99, when we walked as group of four, with our wives, Tini (Miss W) and Lynnie. Through me, my brother in law, David Hobbs came to the event in 2004. Alan has also introduced 'Fen Boy' Coady and Sandra, Richard White, Bob Butler, and his own son, Ollie. All of us making our way across Scotland as a result of that chance meeting with Derek on the West Highland Way.

None of us would have missed it for the world - and some of us just keep coming back for more. Derek's photo got me thinking that the Challenge is much more than a backpacking event. Difficulties overcome, good times enjoyed, enduring friendships forged....

It's a family affair.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post Phil! Right on the button.
See you soon (hopefully!)

April 9, 2008 at 10:11 PM  
Blogger Alan Sloman said...

Ah, David A - Is that the very same 'His Emminence'? Is he coming on the PWD? You know you want to David...

April 11, 2008 at 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Discaimer! I should like to make it very clear that to refer to me as a race walker is very wide of the mark! My sons will be furious at the description. My only senior race was in 1969 when as a 40 year old veteran won the Handicap Race Cup for a 15 mile race in the slowest time ever recorded, 2 hrs 59 mins.The handicapper had allowed me minus 1 hour!

April 11, 2008 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger Lou and Phyllis LaBorwit said...

You should know that I met Derek at his workplace whilst on a World Health Org fellowship in 1985 (or so) He beguiled me with his tales of the Challenge and I thought about it and then did my first Challenge in 1994. Chalk up another one for Derek!

Lou (and Phyllis) LaBorwit

April 11, 2008 at 7:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Lou for crediting me with giving you the inspiration to take part in the Challenge. You are not alone among those who I have introduced over the years, the most notable being the first Polish Challenger, and the first two Australian Challengers. It was a pleasure Lou.


April 12, 2008 at 1:33 PM  

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