On the 22nd September 2018, I took part in the Shine Night Walk, raising money for Cancer Research.
With nervous excitement I joined the starting line of the Shine Night Walk, with the rest of #TeamInspire, a wonderful group of fellow business ladies that I have met through ‘The Business Girls Network’, and thousands of other enthusiastic walkers raising money for Cancer Research UK. As we stood there under the darkening sky we hoped and prayed that the rain that had been hammering down all day would stay at bay and not dampen our spirits, we had been avid weather watchers for the previous 48hrs, practically checking the MET office website every 10 minutes!
There was a seriously impressive number of people taking part and there was a lovely buzz of excitement and anticipation as people got ready to start the walk.
The first part of the route was pretty uneventful, and for me those first few miles past quite quickly, along quiet back streets out of Southwark, past The Shard, the pinnacle of which momentarily appeared through the clouds and we gradually settled into a rhythm and relatively soon we hit Tower Bridge, the first London landmark all lit up at night, affording us great views down the river as we crossed.
The miles ticked by, the crowds thinned out and we gradually divided from our initial team of 8 into smaller groups of matching pace & strides and the conversation kept flowing! (Anna and I even came up with a fantastic marketing strategy for my social media platforms in those early miles, so watch this space!)
I looked forward to the pit stops along the way. They broke the walk up into smaller, more manageable chunks, so when I felt like stopping I would think “only 2 miles till a pit stop” and it kept me going.
It was very interesting, I am not a regular visitor into London and walking through the night allowed us to see so many of the sights from a completely different perspective. We all get so caught up in the daily grind, that it’s easy to forget how beautiful our Capital city can be. There’s something really special and magical about seeing St. Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Battersea Power Station and the London Eye in the twinkle of night-time, minus all the noise and crowds of the day.
I found parts of the course easier to manage than others and the people around us, the fellow Shiners, kept us entertained with their contagious energy and enthusiasm. The atmosphere, sites and conversation kept me going.
When I wasn’t taking in the sights of the city, I was looking around at all my fellow walkers and reading the signs on their backs saying who they were shining for. It was (and still is) a very humbling experience and I was reminded yet again why we had undertaken this challenge; that cancer really does affect us all.
The route meandered through London’s streets, passing many historic landmarks and it was fascinating to watch London’s nightlife unfold around us. Along the way, we were encouraged by dozens of energetic volunteers, (some were off the scale with enthusiasm!), offering words of support and praise for our efforts.
In addition to frequent selfies and photo breaks, the route remained open to traffic which sometimes made it seem as if we were just out for a casual stroll around London, but the weariness was a constant reminder that it was the middle of the night.
We strolled past Buckingham Palace, Downing Street and down into Chelsea, not a bad place to do a little window shopping! The route then headed out west and down to the river where we had a lovely view of Battersea Power Station, lit up in Shine colours of blue & pink. This was a quieter section and the tiredness was really kicking in. To add to our woes the drizzle had now taken hold.
By mile 23 we had become very quiet, apart from stopping to take the odd selfie and posing with a few of the attractions, the miles were now taking their toll and the weather that we had all been dreading had begun, with the wind driving the rain into our faces and causing a chill. This was tough!
As we headed back towards the river the London Eye lit up in red was a pretty spectacular sight and thankfully signalled the fact that we only had 2miles remaining to walk. We kept going, hobbling by this point, along the Southbank, passing my old workplace, Shakespeare’s Globe and The Golden Hinde, the miles seemed to be so much longer than when we had begun, and the rain was just consistent.
Crossing the bridge over the Thames heading back into Old Billingsgate was quite an emotional moment for me and I had to stem the tears, we were so close to the end, the finishing line was in sight, yet it still seemed so far! Anna & I crossed over the finishing line arm in arm at 7:17 am, 9hrs & 47 minutes since we had started, and it was an incredible experience.
Throughout this journey, the many weeks of training and the walk itself, our whole team & everyone else taking part has shown an amazing strength of spirit and character but still the pain we were feeling was nothing compared to what the individuals who are currently fighting the fight are going through and this was a reminder of why I was walking in the first place.
I have never run a marathon (and I have no intention of ever doing so!), so wouldn’t be able to compare. What I can say is walking the Shine Night Marathon is not an easy task. The Shine Night Marathon is beyond rewarding and worth every ache and pain endured and I would absolutely encourage anyone thinking about it, to give it a go!
Now a few days and a lot of tears later, and some very sore toes, legs and hips, I am still packed full of adrenaline in ing able to say that I completed the 26.2 miles in just under 10 hours and with some absolutely incredible people by my side.
Without these lovely ladies, to talk to, laugh with and moan about our aches and pains the entire journey it would have been 10x harder, and a whole lot less fun.
I cannot underplay just how challenging this event was and I am enormously proud of our efforts and achievement. Well done #TeamInspire.
Thanks to all you amazing people, we as #TeamInspire have so far raised in excess of £3,000, which is an incredible sum, so thank you.
There is still time to donate, so if you do wish to add to our total, please visit my Just Giving page: https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/katies-giving-page-319?d=94abb3d9-16bb-4396-bd08-c3abb83f336f
And here is a little shout out to my teammates and fellow walkers:
Anna Verghese – We Are Tabono
Karen Rosser – Inspire my Soul
Chloe Leibowitz – We Are Tabono
Rebecca De Jager – Hugo’s Workshop
Maggie Dennis – Gorgeous girl Xx