Join our brand new group for everyone doing #walk500miles 2017. Based on our experience with the now 18,000-strong #walk1000miles Facebook group we're confident it will be a brilliant, surprising and supportive resource.
#walk500miles is not a competition – unless you count the one in which you're competing against your old self – but nor is it always a solitary activity. You can walk alone and share your musings, snaps and that song you got stuck in your head when you get back; you can walk with a friend human or canine and share some pics of that ridiculous face they pull when they sneeze; you can ask for help identifying a plant or an earthwork; arrange meet-ups or just offload some niggling night thoughts.
One of the great things about walking, and this challenge, is that there's no 'right' way to do it – and the only idea we definitely have in common is that things get better through walking. So whether you're as fit as a flea and you want to share some crazy stats or these are your first gasping breaths off the sofa or the hospital bed and you just want to say "By 'eck! This is tough" your contribution is equally worthy and your presence equally delightful to us.
So do join what we're confident will be one of the nicest places on the internet, join in and feel the glee in this shared enterprise of ours – #walk500miles!
(PS – it's a closed group as we've found people feel more at ease when membership is vetted to exclude spammers and chancers, so your application to join may take a short time to approve.)
Let's find out where in the world where we all are!
This is a map of people doing #walk1000miles (many of whom you'll find in the Facebook group). You can add yourself too!
1) Click on the + sign in the top right of the map
2) Enter your name
3) Enter your location
4) Add a photo (if you wish) by clicking on the 'Media' tab
5) Enter some details in the 'Details' tab if you'd like to
6) Choose a colour for your marker pin
7) Click on submit.
On mobile, touch on the blue square with three horizontal lines on it. Then touch on '+ Add'.
It'll fast become a treasured possession as it banks your miles and the thermometer reaches higher and higher! Your tracker is inside the back page of Country Walking – or you can download a copy here using the code inside the issue.
Your tracker is the only way to qualify for entry to competitions to win gear from our sponsors too, so hang onto it!
Not got your copy of Britain's best-selling (and fastest-growing) walking magazine yet? You can fix that fast by clicking here.
Iron-clad your ambition by going public with your downloadable pledge!
Click the button to download and print your 2017 #walk1000miles, then share it on your Facebook, Twitter or fridge door. You'll find it motivating and you might recruit some walking buddies to accompany you on some of those lonesome mid-week miles. (Don't forget to point them at livefortheoutdoors.com/walk500miles too!)
WHO'S BEHIND THIS?
Country Walking, the UK's best-selling (and fastest-growing) walking magazine, which has been continuously published each month for the past 30 years. (It makes a great challenge companion: if you subscribe now you also get a year's free access to Ordnance Survey's mapping for the whole of the country on your phone, tablet and computer, worth £23.99.) livefortheoutdoors.com is the name of the website we share with our sister magazine Trail.
WHAT DO I DO NOW?
It's really very simple, as you'll see from the how it works page. All you do is walk about an hour a day in 6 months, and record those miles on a Progress Tracker sheet available with Country Walking magazine. In fact you don't even need to record your miles on our progress tracker (though there are reasons you might want to – see below).
HOW DO I RECORD MY MILES?
Any way you choose: using a wearable activity tracker, an app on your phone (like OS Maps, MapMyWalk or many others), using a map and a piece of string or with the help of Google Maps. You can keep tabs on how your daily average target changes by using our instant mileage tracker on the challenge homepage. Just enter your total miles so far to find out how many you've got to average a day for the remainder of the year. (Tip: miles put in early on really help your motivation later in the year!)
DO I NEED TO SUBMIT/UPLOAD MY MILES ANYWHERE?
No. The main thing is you keep track of them yourself. But post in the group when you reach milestones and the amazing group member Susan Miller somehow keeps a track of it all and with her help we publish completers lists in the magazine periodically.
WHAT MILES / STEPS CAN I COUNT TOWARDS MY TOTAL?
This is an honesty-based challenge and not a competition and it's up to you what rules you apply to your challenge. Some people – particularly those starting from a lower fitness level – are counting every step while others are only counting planned walks beyond their everyday pottering. Others still count only the miles they cover with walking boots on – that's what people mean when they refer to 'boots on' miles. It's up to you.
IS THERE A LEADER BOARD?
No. #walk500miles is not a race to the finish and the only person you are competing with is last year's version of yourself! Your milestones will be celebrated by the community as heartily whether it's 10, 50 or a multiple of 100 you're hitting. The main thing is surprising yourself not impressing anyone else – but we're pretty sure you will do both!
ARE THERE ANY REWARDS?
Oh, only your fitter, happier, sleeker new self! But having said that, if you've signed up and got a progress tracker you'll be eligible for multiple competitions on the challenge homepage, in the monthly newsletter and in the magazine. You will also be able to download free completion certificates, and buy challenge merchandise like the cool stuff we had in 2016. There are also badges (pins if you're from the US) which declare your participation and which have proved highly covetable! These will be given away free to holders of the March issue (out 27 April) while stocks last.
WHERE DO I GET A PROGRESS TRACKER?
The Progress Tracker is available inside the back cover of the April issue of Country Walking and by download using a code in the magazine.
WHY DO I NEED A PROGRESS TRACKER?
We've found the Progress Tracker addictive to fill in, and it gives a real sense of common cause, but perhaps as importantly you'll need to upload a photo of your progress tracker to enter competitions to win gear from our partners. This enables us to stop professional competition-enterers winning prizes when real #walk1000miles challengers deserve them!
WHAT'S A BADGER?
In 2016 we gave away and later sold over 2000 'I'm doing it!' challenge badges. Someone at some point decided people who wore them should be called 'badgers'. Later, some of them started meeting up for the occasional walk, which was fun, and they're still happening. We will make 2017 badges available via Country Walking soon if you'd like to be a 2017 badger! (And by the way, if you see any other words or references you don't understand do ask: we don't want any exclusiveness here, all are welcome on any in-joke!)
I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS!
Ask away in the Facebook group!