WORTH THE WALK: Fantastic views, funds for charity and a challenge accomplished, the Lighthouse 2 Skillion Coast Walk has it all, as these walkers found last year.
WORTH THE WALK: Fantastic views, funds for charity and a challenge accomplished, the Lighthouse 2 Skillion Coast Walk has it all, as these walkers found last year.

Lighting the way to a better challenge

THERE'S an addition to last year's breakthrough success, the Lighthouse 2 Skillion Coast Walk, with a 16.5km route added to the more challenging 27.5km original.

Organiser James Musgrave said the shorter walk, to start at Memorial Park, the Entrance, was aimed particularly at families with younger children, and the older generation.

It cuts out a large sandy section from Soldiers Beach to North Entrance which can be hard on younger legs and older hips.

"We know there are possibly hundreds of people who would like to have walked last year but simply couldn't make the full distance," Mr Musgrave said.

That's not to say that there weren't a lot of over-55s up to the original challenge of walking from Norah Head Lighthouse to The Skillion at Terrigal, with 90 of last year's 2057 participants in that bracket, and the oldest finisher being Dennis Hewitt at 76.

The event started - as many things do these days - with James forgetting to press the privacy setting on Facebook when he suggested to friends that they do the walk together as an informal surf lifesaving exercise.

Within two weeks, 600 people had said they were interested in taking part.

"What started as a hike for 50-100 friends and friends of friends quickly took on a life of its own," James said.

While this year's event on Sunday, July 30 hasn't had the same remarkable take-up rate as last year, over 540 had registered two months out.

Only 20 people who started last year's walk didn't make it to the finish, but James said it was important for anyone thinking of taking part to do some training first.

"It's really important to do some walking on the sand beforehand because it's very different to just going for a walk down the street," James said.

"The sand is uneven, it gives under you."

The real challenge, however, was not how strenuous the walk was, but the time it takes.

It took the average walker 6.5 hours to complete the challenge last year, including stops for food, selfies and whale-watching.

Charities received $50,000 in fundraising and surf clubs along the route received about $2000 each, with participants asked to bring eight $2 coins to drop in club buckets as a thank you for water and providing safety and first aid where necessary.

Participants are also encouraged to start their walk in a new tracksuit or hoody which they can take off as it gets warm and leave at one of the surf clubs for Coast Shelter to pick up. Last year the charity received 800 items of clothing.

"They're bringing a bigger truck this year," James laughed.

For those who make it to the end there will be a surprise musical tribute to go along with the medal handouts presented by the Terrigal nippers.

Entry is $59 for the full trek and $55 for the 16.5km challenge and includes a walk t-shirt, race bib, water refills at the surf clubs and a medal or dog tag for finishers.

Money raised goes to Westpac Rescue Helicopter, Coast Shelter and Surf Life Saving Central Coast.

For details go to http://www.lighthouse2skillioncoastwalk.com.au


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