Unremarkable men walk 40 miles for no particular reason
THE pages of the Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser are often littered with stirring tales of heroism and human endurance.
Thousand-mile bike rides; footsore treks along mighty mountain ranges; back-breaking transatlantic rows – always in the name of a good cause.
But not this week.
This week, a group of seven unremarkable, middle-aged men walked a long way for no reason. None whatsoever.
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Bearing such solid British names as Chris, Ian and Simon, the "50-ish" Dorking residents picked a random Saturday and a meaningless route and walked 40 miles just because they could.
Ian Giles, spokesman for the group of "accountants, surveyors, that sort of thing", explained: "I think we had all become jaded by a series of charitable events and thought we should do something for no particular reason.
"We just wanted to spend some time with each other in some way. There was a brief conversation between us about possibly doing something for charity but that quickly turned to, 'Why don't we just do something for ourselves? Can men not just walk together in fellowship anymore?' It's a return to the daring days of when people just 'did stuff'."
Having decided that the event should have no meaning, the group – Ian plus Mark Dorn, Simon Loomes, Chris Child, Chris Jarvis, Chris Shaw and the almost flamboyantly named Gareth Stace – chose a route which started and ended nowhere in particular.
Ian said: "Simon came up with the idea of calling it 'Beach to Bench 2013', so we found a random bench on The Nower which was not special in any shape or form.
"It was falling apart a bit and half buried in a hedge. If it had had some redeeming feature I think we would have shied away, but because a few slats were missing we thought, 'This is perfect'."
Starting beside a groyne on Shoreham beach at 6am, the group slogged their way along the Downs Link path via Cranleigh and Holmbury Hill, averting their eyes from interesting sights as they went.
Some 16 hours later, they reached the lowly bench, to the acclaim of no-one.
"It was a fairly uneventful 40 miles, which was exactly the point," said Ian. "We didn't want banners or cheering crowds and we certainly didn't get any. In fact if there had been we would probably have taken a different route."
Asked whether the event could be seen as an insult to charity fundraisers, Ian responded: "It might look that way but it didn't even have that point to it. I would never knock anyone raising money for a cause close to their hearts.
"It's just that you don't have to. You can go and do stuff with your mates that is memorable and challenging without then having to go and tap your friends for money.
"It's not anti-charity; it's pro-friends, pro doing-anything-you-feel-like-doing."
The group's efforts cannot be sponsored online, by phone or by post. There will be no Beach to Bench 2014.