I've not posted my New Year's Resolutions yet, but one of my plans for the year is to get a little fitter and to that end, I've set up a group on Ravelry called Walk Middle-earth.
Many, many, many years ago, at the height of my crazy Tolkien obsession, I discovered a little site called Eowyn Challenge. The site is no longer maintained, but all the information is still up there. Someone went through the Lord of the Rings books and worked out the distances travelled by the Fellowship, then shared them with the world so we can have a go at walking them too.
I loved the idea of it, but despite deciding I was going to have a go at it, there didn't seem to be an effective way to track my progress reliably, so I pretty much forgot about it. Until December last year.
I'd already decided I was going to start walking more. I set up an account on Runkeeper which I've become slightly addicted to. You can plan routes and it uses the GPS on your phone to track where you've been so you have an accurate idea of your distance, without fumbling with maps and scales. Feel free to add me as a friend on there if you use it too.
Runkeeper allows you to set a goal, so did a bit of googling to try and come up with a goal for myself. Nothing really appealed to me, until I remembered the Eowyn Challenge. I was thrilled to discover the site is still available and immediately set my target as 458 miles; that's the distance that Frodo and Sam travel from Hobbiton to Rivendell.
Now Runkeeper helps me to track my progress, but I knew I needed something to keep me accountable, so I decided to set up a group on Ravelry. I thought perhaps I'd get three or four people joining me on my trek across Middle-earth, if I was lucky. Well, at the time of writing this, I have over 70 in the group!
Most people are walking from Hobbiton to Rivendell as well, though there are some people who have done the challenge before and have already reached Rivendell.
We kickstarted things on the 1st of January and I'm finding it a great incentive to keep going. It helped me get out of bed at 7:30am on the first for a walk with the dog. Normally I'd just whip Tara out for a quick up and down at that time of morning on a day off, but instead I picked a route which I knew would take me over 1.2 miles.
I've given myself a year to reach Rivendell, just a little longer than the twenty-seven days it took the Hobbits to get there. That means I need to walk an average of 1.2 miles a day. Some days I'll manage more than that, others I might not manage anything, but I think it's easily achievable. There's one walk in particular at home that I know I can do, there and back twice, which'll get me what I need.
I'm going to be sharing my progress here regularly as well, so you can follow along if you like, after all, Frodo didn't do it alone!