IT IS a gruelling trek which pushes walkers to the edge of their physical fitness.
And more than 100 people are expected to take part in the South Downs Yomp, a 166km hike along the South Downs Way.
The event will raise money for military charities with a route which begins in Winchester and ends in Eastbourne and will take 36 hours to complete.
‘Every Royal Marine who has done it said it’s as tough as any of the Commando tests and it really is,’ said organiser Robin Hollington.
‘When you’re doing three miles an hour every hour for 36 hours it’s all in your mind and yes, you’ll get blisters and aches and pains, but it’s about that mental endurance.’
A group of walkers including Robin, who will not be taking part this year as he is busy organising, met to do an 18-mile walk as a warm up.
Chris Parfitt, 52, of Copthorne came down for the warm-up and has taken part in long distance hikes before.
He said: ‘One minute you feel like you don’t want to carry on and an hour later when you’re 20km from the end a switch goes in your head and you feel like you can get to the finish, turn around and do the whole thing again. It’s all in the head.’
Robin organised and took part in the first event in 2011 after his son, Richard Hollington, of Stroud, became the 300th serviceman to die in Afghanistan. Richard was 23 when he was gravely injured in an explosion in the Sangin district of Helmand province on June 12 and died after a week of fighting his injuries in hospital.
A former Royal Marine himself, serving from 1979 to 1999, Robin was determined to honour his son’s memory and raise money for others in the armed services.
That year 21 of Robin’s friends and family went from Eastbourne to Winchester and since then Robin has organised a yomp each year.
Last year marked the Royal Marines’ 350th anniversary and the route was altered to make it exactly 166.4 kilometres to match the year the Marines were founded, 1664.
This year’s yomp will take place on May 23-24 and anyone interested in joining in or donating should visit since1664.com