Two years ago I completed the overnight ‘Full Moon’ Moonwalk for Walk the Walk and sobbed as I crossed the finish line after 26.2miles. Walking that distance is incredibly challenging, and undertaking this mammoth achievement is made tougher due to the nocturnal timing. My mind was just as exhausted as my body. However, I’m one for collecting ‘sets’ as I did with Cancer Research’s Shine, where I completed both the Full and Half walking events, and knew that I would return to complete the ‘Half Moon’ Moonwalk (which is actually 13.1 plus 2 miles, so 15.1miles in total).
This event is very generous in that the £50 entry fee included a training t-shirt, branded high-viz cap, a Wonderbra to decorate, full training plan and advice, personalised Walker Number, bag label, weather protector, space blanket, a hot pasta or rice meal, flapjack, all the water you can drink, facilities along the route, a gorgeous medal and impressive entertainment. This is so much more than a walking event! Each year there is a different theme and this year’s was ‘carnival’, so I researched different ideas, purchased materials and sewed and glued the bra to my heart’s content. My friend pulled out at the last minute but I was determined to complete the walk regardless, so when it came to Saturday 14th May I travelled up to London alone, taking the 90minute-long train to Clapham Junction followed by a 30minute walk to Clapham Common. The queue to enter the event grounds was huge, and I finally gained entry at 8:25pm after joining at 7:50pm. Once inside there was a choice of three bagging areas, more portaloos than I have ever seen, various mobile food & drink suppliers (all organic and healthy – brilliant), a white marquee housing WalkWear clothes to purchase, an information marquee, and of course the famous big pink tent. Inside that were water stations, an area to collect your free rice/pasta meals and flapjack, wash-off tattoo stations, a make-up area, masseuses offering their services, half-naked muscly men offering themselves for photographs, and a large stage where various performers entertained. I opted for a complimentary calf massage and the lady was attentive and knew what she was doing. The atmosphere in the tent was lively and fun; and a humbling minute’s silence took place before the walks set off.
I was wearing my decorated bra underneath the training t-shirt (which I removed before setting off) and a WalkWear zip-up hoody, coupled with running leggings and running trainers. My Walker Number was safety-pinned around a leg, and my pink draw-sting backpack contained: Bottle of water, snack food (cereal bar, apple, crisps etc), phone, keys, purse, lip balm, inhaler, mints, tissues, wet-wipes, deodorant, spare clothing….and more. I should have packed a lot less, as although my bag felt relatively light when I set off, after a few hours (bearing in mind I left home at 5:30pm, so by the time we started walking I’d already been wearing the bag for 5hrs) my shoulders were feeling uncomfortable. I didn’t actually need to take a bottle of water, as there was an unlimited free supply, and I should have left the snacks at home as there was plenty of food choices on offer to purchase. A lesson for future walking events: I’ll only take a small bumbag with the very bare essentials. A few days later, my shoulders have bruising and my lower back is still sore.
I was in the first wave to set off and left the grounds at around 10:30pm. The volunteer marshals en route were encouraging all the way around, clapping and cheering and handing out sweets. The weather was dry and warm, and the spectators/general public were friendly. The signage was incorrect however, as I passed a 10mile marker, then a mile later passed another 10mile marker. Thinking this was a simple oversight I carried on, but the same happened again at 12miles, when there was two 12mile markers in a row. At this point I deflated and lost motivation, stopped power-walking and stumbled the remaining three miles, feeling a bit cheated. The finish line was the best finish line I’ve ever crossed; about 20 or so staff members clapped, cheered, shouted words of praise and took photographs, putting the medal over my head and making me feel like I’d just won the Olympics. The clock read 1:50am: I’d walked 15.1miles in 3hrs 20mins, and was the third participant to finish. I took advantage of the seating, hot chocolate and coffee until 5:15am, when I walked the 30mins back to Clapham Junction to catch my 6am train home. I sat and watched the sun rise as walker after walker crossed the line and collected their medals, the cheers from the staff remaining constant and enthusiastic. Some might think that waiting alone in the cold for over 3hrs would be awful, but it fact it was humbling and lovely. I wrapped myself up in the free space blanket and nursed hot drinks while congratulating fellow participants. I nodded off a few times on the train on the way home, and when I finally walked through my door at 9am (7hrs after finishing the event!) I fell asleep until midday. My legs were sore but I think perspective is key with events like this: feeling sore and tired is nothing compared to having cancer, or losing loved ones to cancer.
So, would I recommend the Moonwalk to others? Yes, absolutely. The whole event was highly organised, professional and ran like clockwork. The atmosphere blew me away and apart from the incorrect signage, I can’t fault anything. As this was my second Moonwalk and I now have both mileage medals, I highly doubt that I’ll be returning, but this is the sort of event that I would encourage anyone and everyone to complete.
NEXT UP: The Vitality London 10,000 on Monday 30th May!