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Merseyside #HomesForBritain #relaytotherally Day 2

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So Day Two picked up where the 22 miles of Day One had ended. If you missed it the Day One blog by Andy Williams needs to be read before this one for it to make sense!

Ahead of us was another gruelling 17 mile walk / run stage, but this time followed by a 15 mile bike ride along the locally known ‘road of death’!

The Halton Housing Team did us proud with a lively and colourful send off after fuelling up a team of walkers and runners from a cross section of Merseyside housing associations.  This team took over from the larger group that had walked and run 22 miles the previous day.

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The journey to Weaver Vale was pretty tough. The previous day’s mileage was taking its toll, with aching leg muscles and blisters starting to form. However the route took us out through some of the beautiful Cheshire countryside as well as past some of the more expensive homes in the country, a reminder of why we were putting ourselves through all this pain and suffering!

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First stop was at a development site in Winnington where Weaver Vale Housing Trust had used a former garage site to provide much needed affordable homes, using a creative and eye catching design.

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Then we ploughed on to Weaver Vale where the running stage ended and I can definitely say I’ve never been so pleased to see the Weaver Vale office! Here we received a fantastic reception as well as a much needed sports massage and fuel stop. The team who were cycling from Bootle to Congleton led by Phil Pemberton arrived shortly afterwards, further reinforcing the way in which the #homesforbritain campaign had brought together a cross section of people and organisations in a way we have never seen before.

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A quick change of footwear and we then hopped on our bikes for the ride to Holmes Chapel. This was probably the hardest stage for me personally as the earlier 39 running miles started to take its toll on my legs. I was ‘encouraged’ to keep up by Andy Williams patting his leg to call me to heel. I now know how my dog feels when we go out for a walk! There were also a few times when I was cursing Jon Lord and Katie Teasdale under my breath for roping me into this!

The arrival at Affinity Sutton was just at the right time. It was here that the efforts people have gone to in supporting the campaign really hit home. This stunning (and very tasty!) cake was made by Ali Heath who had spent half of her weekend as well as staying up until 01:00 before our arrival to finish it off in time for our arrival.

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And then we set off on our final stage to Congleton. After yet more uphill sections (why do roads always appear to continually go upwards when on a bike?) and a quick circuit of Congleton town centre (thanks to Vikki’s ‘Mack Nav’) we arrived at our final destination at Plus Dane’s Offices. Here we were reunited with the architect of the entire #relaytotherally concept, Jon Lord and Katie Teasdale who had just completed their 60 mile two day walk/ yomp across the North West. Once again our hosts offered a fantastic reception.

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So what have I taken from the last two days, other than aching legs, realising that Andy Williams has no map reading skills and never to listen to Jon Lord when he says “I’ve had an idea”? Well there are five:

1.  How you can never plan enough in advance and to get the right people in your organisation to do this. We most certainly did and this ensured everything happened exactly as it should have done, even though this occasionally resulted in me being told off!

2.  The huge role played by the support teams in making sure everyone was safe, fed and watered. But more importantly the moral support and encouragement they offered. I personally could have not managed without them, as well as showing how people from different organisations can work together. And on the support theme a special mention to Andy Williams who was with me every step and pedal turn of the way.

3.  The warmth of the welcome from every organisation who kindly volunteered to act as a stopping point. The efforts they had each gone to were humbling and made you realise the impact the entire #HomesForBritain campaign is having.

4.  The wide range of individuals from a cross section of housing organisations who came come together to support a common cause in a way that in my entire housing career I have not previously experienced. The buzz this had created, both amongst all those who had taken part but also on social media was very special and a real privilege to be a part of.

5.  Finally, and probably most importantly, the way in which we could run future campaigns. Give us a cause that we can all relate to and let us run with it (excuse the pun!) and make it our own.

So that’s it! Our work is now done and we have handed over the #HomesForBritain baton to the cyclists who are now heading down to London in preparation for the finale on Tuesday. Alongside my North West colleagues I’m looking forward to adding our support to this on the day itself and beyond the next Election. Although I may take the train to London rather than run or cycle it…

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Written by Nick Atkin | Posted on 13th March 2015

Nick Atkin is Chief Executive at Halton Housing Trust

Website: http://www.haltonhousing.org/