Let me start off by introducing myself and the reason for #Walking4Women. My name is Ali Engelbrecht. I am the voluntary CEO of a non profit organisation know as Women In Business, which is a social networking platform for entrepreneurial women.
At the end of November 2018 Facebook had a pop up advert for a group of virtual walkers. The challenge was 1,200 miles in 2019, called the Invincible Challenge. I had just finished a couple of years of studying part time and I needed something useful to fill my time, but something that wouldn’t be indoors. Having grown up on a farm and been an avid walker all my life, I decided I would take on this challenge.
During the course of 2019 I virtually met my other Invincibles. We interacted on a closed Facebook group. As the year progressed friendships were formed and a spin off was I became a virtual traveler and I became an informal ambassador for tourism in South Africa. We shared photos and personal trivia, laughed and encouraged one another and as we each reached the target of 1,200 miles, we celebrated. By the end of 2019 we decided that we needed to do another event so that we could maintain the common thread and stay in touch.
2020 brought many many challenges. The first one being 2,020 kilometres in 2020. The second one being the Lock Down due to COVID. Being in lock down and trapped within one’s own home and property created challenges but not insurmountable ones. I am very fortunate to live on a small holding. Mowed a maze of paths around the property and was able to enter many other virtual challenges and keep up my mileage for the 2,020 km challenge. The big bonus was to be able to work from home. Instead of spending two hours a day on the road to and from work, I used that time to walk. The mileage added up very quickly. We are now half way through the year, my mileage is 1,586 kms completed to-date.
A group of us girls, who are now firm virtual friends, decided to join as a team the Big Canada Race. 8,000 kms across Canada to be completed within a year. We agreed to our team name #BerniesBitches (story for another posting) setting off on 1st July to cross Canada virtually. Our Team Captain Bernie (a dog) and her mum Team Leader Janet have been instrumental in getting us organised and running (well in my case walking).
Throughout the 1,200 mile challenge in 2019 I came across other walkers on the road or on trails and just chatted in general. As a walker you are generally at the back of the pack and a lot slower than the majority. But you do get to talk to some amazing people who have such interesting lives. On the roads I chatted to many women walking to and from work. As the months progressed I realised that what I thought was invincible and fantastic was actually not. Many women (and men) who only have access to public transport to get to and from work, walk at least 1,200 miles in a year. The #Walking4Women awareness campaign was born. Through this #Walking4Women campaign I want to create awareness around how far women have to walk to and from work, and for employers to be empathetic towards these ladies. Often they have to stand for long hours at work making them leg weary. Creating awareness hopefully will make employers more understanding and supportive.
Having had many adventures over the last 18 months with the long distance walking, creating a following on social media and sharing the insights of the gorgeous places I get to walk, its now time to start recording these adventures.
More posts to follow. Explanation of Team Bernie Bitches also to follow in future posts.