Preparations are nearing completion for the start of one local man’s grueling quest to help the fight against cancer with a walk along Hadrian's Wall - dressed as a Roman soldier.
After six months of intensive training, 38-year-old Lancaster builder Duane Alexander is now eagerly anticipating the successful completion of ‘Alexander’s March’.
Covering 80 miles, over the four days of August Bank Holiday Weekend (Friday 27th to Monday 30th 2010), the March will see Duane walking the entire length of the national Hadrian’s Wall Trail, from west to east, to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.
But this will be no ordinary sponsored walk: Duane will be dressed in the authentic uniform of a mid-second century Roman legionnaire, complete with armour, shield, weapons and period accessories, weighing about 90lbs. To add to the authenticity, Duane will be sleeping in the open, under his cloak and only eating rations that roman legionnaires would have ‘enjoyed’.
His somewhat limited menu will include a wholemeal flour and water gruel, supplemented with anything he can forage along the way; a lentil, flour and bacon broth and simple wheat biscuits – all washed down with water.
Keeping him company on the walk will be a small support team, collecting for Cancer Research as they go. On the eve of the March (Thursday 26th), there will be an opportunity for a preview encounter with Duane in Carlisle city centre’s pedestrianised area. During the afternoon, he’ll be present in full uniform and happy to talk to people about the March, Roman soldiers and Hadrian’s Wall, while his support team collect donations for the charity.
The first steps of Alexander’s March will be taken at 9.00am on Friday 27th August, as the team leave Bowness-on-Solway, following the shore of the Solway Firth and bank of the River Eden, passing to the north of Carlisle and finishing in the vicinity of the village of Crosby-on-Eden.
Day two (Saturday) takes the team into the spectacular open countryside of the Northumberland National Park, passing by Birdoswald Fort and Museum and finishing for the night near the impressive remains of Housesteads Fort. On day three (Sunday), Duane continues into the most strenuous part of the journey. After passing by numerous Roman sites of interest, including the Temple of Mithras and Chesters Fort, the team visit Vallum Farm cafe and shop, staying overnight nearby.
The March, which is supported by English Heritage, the National Trust, Northumbria and Cumbria Constabularies and Lancaster's Drawing Room (among others), continues on Bank Holiday Monday, into Newcastle, following the north bank of the Tyne for much of the way and hopefully, arriving at journey’s end, Wallsend Roman Fort, by tea time.
Duane is encouraging as many people as possible to meet up with him and the team, during the walk. It will be possible to keep track of his progress by ringing the Alexander’s March Hot Line 07875 552 325, during the Bank Holiday Weekend.
• Anyone who would like to support Duane and make a donation to Cancer Research, will find information on the various ways of giving at www.alexandersmarch.co.uk or tel. 0787 554 1291.