Monday 3 October 2011

Shining for Cancer Research UK

On Saturday night I took part in a night-time walking marathon organised by Cancer Research UK, and it was quite an experience, so I thought I would share it with you all. It started at the o2 and already there was a huge queue to get in when we arrived. Everyone had decorated themselves with luminous tutus, glow sticks, glow in the dark paint, light-up bunny ears, and many other variations. There was a great atmosphere; everyone seemed really excited and pumped to get going. After we had done our warm-up we headed to the start line. It took quite a while to get going as there were about 10,000 of us taking part!

I found it very moving to be a part of. Many members of my family have battled cancer, some survived, others, sadly, didn’t. As with all Cancer Research events I have taken part in, they give you a back sign on which to write why you are taking part, and it’s very emotional, and motivating to read others’ reasons. Many take part in memory of a loved one, in support of those battling it, or as a survivor. It really hit home just how many people are affected by this one disease, and how many people care enough to go the extra mile to try and beat it.

I was immensely grateful to all the members of public we passed that cheered us on, it gave us the boost we needed to keep going, especially near the end where a lot of people (and I include myself in this) looked about ready to burst into tears from the effort. I know some of those cheering us on felt somewhat disgruntled that we didn’t all wave and cheer back, as we had been at the beginning, but by about mile twenty we were all so exhausted, I managed to muster a smile for them but that was about it. I know a lot of people think it’s ‘only walking’ but it was one of the toughest things I have ever done, and I know a lot of other participants felt the same.

By the time we crossed the finish line we were too exhausted to really enjoy it, and just wanted to sit down. As we sat/lay there waiting for the tube to start running it was lovely seeing many more people crossing the finish line, such a great achievement. I feel quite a bond to all the others who shared the experience, even though I will never see most of them again. It was quite surreal seeing all these people who we’d just marched around London with hobbling around the o2 in pain, or lying wrapping in foil blankets on the floor. A peculiar sight had anyone stumbled upon us I’m sure.

Finally, I just want to say a huge thank you to all the volunteers who were there handing out drinks at the pit stops, cheering us on, and pointing us in the right direction. They must have been tired and bored, but continued in high spirits to help keep us going. You are all wonderful people. Also, to Cancer Research for organising such an event, and for providing for us so well.

It was an amazing experience in so many ways, highly emotional, and unbelievably tough, both physically, and mentally. I’m glad I did it, but, as the stiffness and soreness in all my limbs continues I’m not sure I shall be in such a hurry to repeat the exercise!

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