For the last 18 years on one Saturday night in May thousands of women (and quite a few men) take to the streets of London wearing highly decorated bras and fancy dress to walk either a half marathon or a full marathon. That is walking 13 or 26.2 miles through the night. Just when your body is saying ‘right that’s enough for today, let’s hit the sack’ you ignore the yawns and dry eyes, and just place one foot in front of the other taking footstep after footstep until you reach the finish line. This is done to raise money for many of the fantastic breast cancer charities that support the hundreds of thousands of women and men diagnosed and treated for breast cancer every year. And hundreds of thousands of pounds are raised every year – collectively £100,000,000 at last count. Pretty amazing!
I have walked the Full Moon twice – both times with my mum, who some may consider ancient in years at 75, but who is not not any way ancient in body, soul or attitude! We have pink-pimped our bras and donned stupid hats and joined in the aching, arduous fun that is the MoonWalk. This year, however, we decided to give our feet a rest and to join the vast crew of volunteers and marshal the route. Both times I have walked the marshals kept me going with their inexhaustible encouragement so we thought we would have a go at the cheering on.
So last night we spent a freezing night on the Bayswater Road high fiving and whooping and generally being overly Tigger-like to 15 thousand walkers at the 15 mile mark. From 1.30 a.m. when the first speed walker zoomed passed, steely faced and determined, until 6.45 a.m. we made our patch a perpetual pep rally. Our voices croaked, cracked and almost gave out as we got more and more American with our ‘good job’ and ‘you’re doing great’ enthusiasm. Our aim was to raise the flagging spirits of the walkers, difficult in those godforsaken hours before daybreak. Then dawn broke, the birds sang and all was well with the world once more. Hopefully we had done our job.
I now can definitively say that it is much harder to walk 26.2 miles than it is to produce cheery non stop banter all night! Although I am now truly exhausted and I was truly freezing for most of the long, long night, my legs are free from aches and my feet free from pain. Having said that, will I crew again? Maybe not. Will I walk again? I had said never again. But I saw all the women last night doing something amazing … and a little part of me wanted to be with them. So who knows. Never say never as they say!