I completed the full Shine Walk marathon in 2013 and the half marathon in 2014, stating at the time that I probably wouldn’t take part again because I had experienced both events and ‘collected’ both medals. However I still receive (convincing) marketing emails and the event is reasonably priced at under £40; plus with more and more family members and friends being diagnosed with cancer recently, it felt timely to participate in another Cancer Research event.
Mum enjoys walking but hadn’t taken part in an event like this, so I signed us both up. My cousins Jane and Kate – who lost their mum, my aunt – to cancer, also registered and we decided to take part together.
So on Saturday 23rd September we caught the 4:30pm train to London and grabbed a tube to Canada Water, where it was just a 5minute walk to the event in Southwark Park. The entrance was amazing – bright lights, music, lots of happy participants and a lovely atmosphere. We arrived around 6:20pm so had an hour before we were due to set off on the Walk. The event village housed an information desk, portaloos, pick’n’mix stand, hot chocolate bar, noodle bar and various other food suppliers. I purchased a £30 zip-up hoodie from the merchandise stand (which was invaluable and super comfy!) plus a light-up bunny ears headband and glow stick necklace. We signed our names on a giant light-up Shine board and took some photos, and then before we knew it, it was time to queue up.
We were all in the 7:30 start time and in previous years this had been split into Strollers, Walkers and Power-Walkers (or similar). This year however, participants were encouraged to pick a colour – red, blue or yellow – pick up a corresponding flashing wristband and queue up in that starting pen. A wheel was spun on the main stage and the chosen colour started walking first at 7:30pm. Once this group had set off, the wheel was spun again and the chosen colour (red – us!) went second, so we started walking around 7:45pm. The third group started after us; I presume at around 8pm.
Sadly I have a few issues with this process. Firstly, I feel that if you sign up to start at 7:30pm, you should start at 7:30pm as expected, not at 8pm or thereabouts. The event organisers should have perhaps ‘warned’ of the probabilities of starting later, or just organised the start times in 15-minute intervals instead. I imagine a lot of people would have been relying on public transport to get home – our last train was just before midnight, and a 30minute delay would have meant a taxi costing in excess of £100.
Secondly, mixing Strollers with Power-Walkers isn’t the wisest idea. Everyone walks at different speeds and we all have different reasons for completing the Walk – some may be aiming to complete it in a specific time, or are perhaps training for a larger-scale event. Being stuck behind very slow walkers and trying to overtake others is frustrating and quite frankly dangerous. We had to walk on the road a few times and there were occasions where we were playing sardines, stuck behind others without being able to pass. Shine should consider addressing this system and perhaps make some changes or revert back to the previous process for 2018.
Nevertheless, the atmosphere was amazing and the entry fee included an event t-shirt, impressive bespoke medal and goodies throughout the evening (water, brioche buns, Rowntree sweets, bananas, etc). The route was lovely and it was great to see so much of London. The route had plenty of toilet stops and the marshals were super friendly and encouraging – possibly the best event marshals I’ve ever experienced, actually! There was a Rock Choir singing at one point on the route which was just amazing.
I wore the event t-shirt with a Brooks sports bra, Adidas full-length running leggings, black 1000 Mile ankle socks, Sketchers Flex Appeal Serengeti trainers and the new event hoodie, making for a super comfortable and weather-appropriate outfit. It didn’t get chilly and luckily the rain held off, so perfect event conditions all round. My bumbag contained pocket tissues, mini wet wipes, hand sanitizer, debit card, £60 cash, lipbalm, phone, mints, energy bar and mini can of body-spray! I used everything and there was still room in the bumbag – they’re an amazing invention!
The Shine Walk finish line was incredible; a red carpet lined with pink and blue lights lead the way inside a building, with the entrance tunnel decorated floor-to-ceiling with black drapes and fairy lights; literally breath-taking. A photographer snapped all finishers as they came through the finish line and our names were read out over a tannoy, which was a lovely surprise! Staff handed out medals and water, and a free hot drinks stand provided a much-needed hot chocolate.
Overall it was lovely night and my cousins, mum and I really enjoyed it. I’d certainly recommend the Shine Walk to others and don’t have a bad word to say about this event!
NEXT UP – nothing yet… I need to get researching and booking! 🙂