Good morning, dear readers. I went to bed at 9.30 last night. I was tired and cross, work is kicking my ass, as usual, and I only cleared about 5 things off my endless to-do list. As a result, I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning and face it all again. But when I hauled myself out of bed and on to the scales, there was a massive SURPRISE. I lost 2.5 pounds overnight, while I was sleeping. Today the scales say 142.6 lbs and this is such a huge achievement to me because I was stuck at 145-146 for a solid month. I am thrilled and made an extra effort with the side planks in yoga this morning.
A reminder of the stats: I weighed 170lbs on 10 January 2022 and I am trying to get to 133lbs, so only 9 pounds to go.
And now on to today’s main story.
As I mentioned yesterday, I like to walk. I also like shiny things. So, even though I hardly spend any time on Insta, and that only for work purposes, my eye was caught by regular posts from a small company called Conqueror Challenges, in which people showed off some very shiny medals which they won as a prize for walking. Some cycling, swimming and wheelchairing (respect), but mainly walking.
Here’s how it works. You go to their website – theconqueror.events – and admire all the glorious medals. They are nearly all named after certain countries or regions of countries, eg Gaza pyramids, Iceland, and so on. Each medal can be won by walking an amount of miles which are equivalent to the distance on a real-world map. Pick the prettiest medal and find out how many miles you’ll walk to win it (not all the miles need to be completed in one go!). The shortest walk is 20 miles (Angkor Wat, Cambodia) and the longest is Pacific West Trail (west coast US) at 2,485 miles.
Pay your entrance fee, this gets you in the “race” and pays for your medal. At this time, you also select whether you want Conqueror to plant trees on your behalf or fish plastic out of the sea. I picked trees and am assured that Conqueror has so far planted around 15 trees in my name. Then you start walking. I have the Conq app linked to Apple Health on my phone, so I go out for my daily walk and then within 24 hours my phone updates the Conqueror app and a tiny place marker representing me moves a tiny way along the virtual route, shown on a map in the app. When you’ve done all the miles, they send your medal in the post. I started with Road to Hana (Hawaii, 64 miles) just because I wanted the medal, then after that I did Niagara Falls because it was the next longest one at 70 miles. Let me pause so I can show you my two medals I’ve earned so far.
The medals are made of metal. They are heavy and beautifully crafted. Most have designs on both sides. Some have moving parts. Even the lanyards are individually decorated. They are sitting in bamboo medal holders which you can also order from Conqueror and attach to your wall.
Just as I was about to finish Niagara Falls, Conq made a huge announcement. They spent 10 months negotiating with Warner Brothers in order to buy a licence to use Lord of the Rings content and branding. Now, for the first time, Conqueror offered people the chance to walk from Frodo Baggins’s house in The Shire all the way to Mordor (660 miles in total). This was very exciting to me. I didn’t like the film very much but I like Tolkien’s writing. I’ve read The Hobbit and have previously read about half of LOTR. This was my chance to walk, collect special LOTR medals and finish reading the book. Look at this.
Because 660 miles is a long way, taking considerable time if you only have about an hour a day like I do, Conq cleverly split the journey into five stages, with a medal for each.
- The Shire, 145 miles. From Frodo’s house to the Prancing Pony Inn in the village of Bree.
- The Fellowship, 98 miles. This is the bit where Frodo gathers some friends to go along with him.
- Mines of Moria, 40 miles. I think this is the bit where Frodo and company get stuck in some caves inside a mountain and Gandalf disappears, presumed dead. This is where I’ve read up to.
- The Eye of Sauron, 95 miles. I don’t really know the story from here on.
- Mordor, 282 miles (phew). Proving that you can, in fact, simply walk into Mordor.
You can’t pick and choose which bits you want to do. Each stage has to be unlocked by completing the previous stage. I bloody loved this idea and signed up immediately. Tens of thousands of other people thought likewise and now Conqueror is a booming business, and good for them.
I have nearly completed The Shire.
I am the red dot on that map. As you can see, there are MANY other people doing this challenge, so the route is crowded with markers. I imagine that when I finally get to the Mordor stage that will have thinned out considerably.
I am finding it incredibly motivating. Before starting this challenge I was averaging 3 miles of walking per day, because that’s about how much I can manage in a lunch hour. But once I started LOTR, I began taking extra walks here and there, finding reasons to run errands and doing some massive 9- and 10-mile walks at the weekends. That’s how I’ve walked an average of over 5 miles a day since beginning, which is great for my fitness and waistline. Let’s look at some more pictures.
This is the wall above my desk. If I was enthusiastic about Conqueror on receiving my Hana and Niagara medals, LOTR turned me passionate. I went crazy and ordered a pile of medal holders which I have prematurely attached to my wall. Those empty holders give me as much of a thrill as the full ones, because I am excited about how much walking I have to do. I spend a lot of time on the Conq website, drooling over the medals and fantasising about winning them all. If you’re wondering about the medal on the far left, it’s not Conqueror, it’s a really old race medal from when I ran (ran!!) a 5k about 10 years ago. I’ve kept it ever since to remind me that I am capable of running if I set my mind to it.
So I’ve nearly finished The Shire and that means there will be a medal soon, although I might have to wait a while for it to arrive as they are having supply issues due to being oversubscribed beyond their wildest dreams. Here’s the Shire medal which I have nearly earned.
On the back, there’s a wonderful “gold” ring which you can remove, carry to Mordor and finally slot into your last medal when you’ve won it. I’ll show you detailed photos when I have it in my sweaty hands at last.
Right, I must stop now and go to work because time is getting on. I wish you a healthy day. More news soon.