Mark Randall, who set out in April on his charity walk to Jerusalem, has so far described the journey as both extraordinary and extremely challenging. Reaching Dubrovnik and on the road for 212 days, walking 5700 km, he was forced to continue his walk on bicycle.
“I have walked in pouring rain and floods, in blisteringly hot summer days, up through mountains and highlands. My pilgrim’s path has led me to navigate dangerous highways and maze-like cities – and through incredible nature reserves, hundreds of acres of unspoilt natural beauty,” he says.
But as his journey across Croatia began it finally got the best of him, he admits.
“I have often told other pilgrims that the Way is much bigger, much more than any of us and it’s the hardships which have to be respected,” he adds.
Finding every day harder and harder he began to suffer from considerable back and neck pain. Carrying all his gear plus food and water really become a burden, especially on the hard tarmac of the coastal roads.
For a while he walked on “very painful feet” so the remainder of his route to Jerusalem will most likely be on roads better suited to a bicycle. He is still determined to reach his destination
“My mission remains the same; Jerusalem under my own steam. Whilst I am not pleased with not being able to walk all the way I find these insurmountable negative factors have combined to lead me to this decision – cycling. This, for me, is infinitely preferable to grinding to a halt.”
His options were simple he says “quit, or continue – as a mounted pilgrim. Many other pilgrims go on horse or take a donkey – I now have a bicycle. The roads will still be dangerous and days shorter, the weather complicated and the healing process slow. But now I am able to cover longer distances, tackle the tarmac in hours of daylight, reach the distant towns and villages in good order, and hopefully make it all the way to Jerusalem.”
Now, the dream of reaching his destination seems closer, as December is almost here.
See feature on pages 12 and 13 and the day his walk became a cycling challenge.