Hi, Wendy here, Matt’s wife. A couple of days ago I got the opportunity to walk a whole day with Matt, something I have never done before – 48km into either a head wind or cross wind the whole day. It was tough but I made it!
I wanted to take it on as a personal challenge to see if I could do a full day but I also wanted to experience what Matt experiences every day during his walks. I never realised how many other factors impact on his day, not just physical energy levels but the direction of the winds, air-wash from passing trucks that at times feel like they will knock you flat on your face, dry lips from sun/wind exposure, blisters and callouses, muscle and/or nerve pain in various parts of the body, the hard surface of the road making it feel like you are walking on pieces of timber at times and the lack of mental stimulation when the landscape is the same day in and day out.
On the positive side, the first few hours in the morning are glorious with the stillness of the day, beautiful sunrises, the warming temperature, and the promise of breakfast and a cup of tea after the first 3 hours are done. During the day there are also the wildlife that come to the side of the road, mainly cows, horses, donkeys and goats at the moment but also lots of bird-life. It is also great to see the number of people that stop or double back to check that he is ok.
So for me the morning wasn’t too bad but when the niggling pains in the feet started to spread, my legs and hips were screaming out in protest and we were only 2km from the last rest break with another 6km to walk until the next rest (and then another 8km to the end of the day!), that’s when I had the greatest appreciation for what Matt goes through on a daily basis. I realised that those are the times when this walk becomes less about physical ability and much more about mental toughness. To be able to keep going and still finish the day with a smile on his face is a true testament to just how mentally tough Matt is. Unfortunately I did not manage to finish the day with a smile on my face! I got heat rash on the backs of my legs, was in pain from the waist down and then it started to get cold. I only finished due to sheer determination, safe in the knowledge that there was a warm jumper waiting for me at the end and that I would not have to back it up and walk again the next day.
I now have a new found appreciation for what it takes to walk day after day and although I know some days would be a lot easier than the day I had, I am also just as certain that some are much harder yet he seldom complains and just keeps putting one foot in front of another usually with a big smile on his face and the classic Matt sense of humor still intact. Matt you are such an inspiration and I hope you know just how proud of you I am.