Twelve scientists from our Belfast-Manchester Movember Centre of Excellence hope to enter the 'Ancient Order of Barking Dogs' after completing the 43-mile Keswick 2 Barrow Walk this week. Their team leader and a three-time veteran of the event, Darren Roberts, tells us why they’re doing it.
Why are you raising money for us?
I receive funding from Prostate Cancer UK and I’ve seen first-hand the dedication the people who raise money have, so wanted to give something back to the charity.
Why did you decide to do a walk, as opposed to a cycle, run or cake sale?
Simple: there are too many hills around here for me to cycle and I would eat all the cakes before I managed to sell any! Walking is something that doesn’t take loads of equipment and practice to do and I’ve always enjoyed it. It's a simple exercise that you can fit around your regular day and doesn’t need to be planned or require any kit.
Why did you choose to do the Keswick 2 Barrow Walk?
It's an annual event and this year is its 50th anniversary. The route is 43 miles and starts near Keswick in the Lake District, finishing in my home town of Barrow-in-Furness. Everyone who finishes the event becomes a member of ‘The Fellowship of the Ancient Order of Barking Dogs’. Barking Dogs is slang for aching feet so it's definitely well deserved! Having completed the walk three times before, I’m already a Doctor in the order. So I’ve got to work towards my Fellowship, which is seven completions. The walk is a team event and we have 12 walkers in our team.
Hopefully the money I raise will help increase awareness of prostate cancer so then when our research reaches the clinic, it can have an even greater impact for men
How has your fundraising gone so far?
I've raised £168 so far in personal sponsorship, but I’m hoping this will shoot up soon. It's been a really good way to engage with people as I often get asked about the work we’re doing in the Belfast-Manchester Movember Centre of Excellence. By doing this with some local companies I’ve managed to get another £500 in sponsorship for the whole team. Hopefully the money I raise will help increase awareness of prostate cancer so then when the research we are doing reaches the clinic, it can have an even greater impact and help more men.
What are you most looking forward to about the event?
It has to be the atmosphere near the finish. It's pretty amazing to have people out in their cars or coming out of their houses to encourage you along.
What are your top tips for someone thinking of doing a challenge walk?
Give some thought to the surface you are walking on and practice on a similar one. Make sure your training involves hills if the final walk does: hills use very different muscles going uphill and downhill than walking on the flat. And be prepared for the length of walk. Feeling fine after a 10-mile walk is different to doing forty miles walk, even just mentally. It can be a big ask. Finally, make sure your gear is right for the walk. Check your footwear doesn't rub and is broken in, similarly with any jackets, bags or other kit you're wearing.
What would you say to someone who was thinking about raising money for Prostate Cancer UK?
Go for it. Even if you only raise a small amount it all adds up and the people you meet are amazing. It's also addictive and a brilliant way to stay in contact with mates – either asking for sponsorship or getting them to join you.
What are your plans for next year?
Do it all again! I’m also hoping teams from the Belfast and London Movember Centres of Excellence can join us next year so we can have representatives from all over the country. Maybe there'll be a little friendly competition on who can raise the most and complete the walk the fastest!
You can sponsor Darren and his team via their online fundraising page.