This being my third London Moonwalk, I was a bit complacent and did not do quite as much training as I perhaps should have! Still, I was very excited, looking forward to the event.
I raised £965, which is so close to that magical £1000. Must try harder!
I had the fortune of being offered a lift with a group of ladies from Tunbridge Wells, some of whom I travelled up with last year. There were 7 in all and they hired a minibus for the journey there and back. This made a HUGE difference, not having to walk to and from train stations, etc.
I was picked up at the end of my road at 4:50, which meant we arrived with plenty of time. I strongly recommend if you wish to avoid queueing on your feet for an hour or so to get in.
The sky looked ominous, threatening rain, and it was notably windier and cooler than previous years. I had 2 t-shirts, a fleece and, of course, my bra, tutu and hat.
Once inside, it was down to business. Get blankets, water and food. This year was pasta and banana cake for me. The tent is huge, especially when you’re one of the first in, but it soon fills up with walkers and atmosphere.
I had arranged to meet with Sam who I walked with last year from about mile 7, since like me she was walking alone. We were both in pink group (the last group of four to start), whilst the TW ladies were in orange group (2nd off). It’s not easy trying to recognise someone, when everyone’s wearing a pink hat!
Following speeches from sponsors, beneficiaries and Prince Charles on video, it was warm up time, before which Nina asks us all to hold hands and stand quiet for 1 minute. This is a rather powerful moment, to hear complete silence. Now here’s a tip if you’re in pink group. Don’t over do the warmup, else you be knackered before you even start!
During the warm ups, Roy the ‘warm up guy’ invited folks up on stage and when it came to the last warmup I just had to get up there and see what it was like to look out at all the walkers dancing. I’m not sure who the warm up guy was inviting up, but I just blagged it anyway. Once up, he dragged me to the front, since I was the only bloke up there. The view was great, loads of pink hats all bobbing up and down following the instructor. I wasn’t particularly good at keeping up with the routine, but it was an experience I’ll not forget.
After that, it was off to the start line and the beginning of the 26 miles and a bit walk.
The route was more interesting this year but there was more congestion and some stop starting. Having said that, it meant the field didn’t thin out completely for the whole distance. This proved quite nice, as you saw a sea of pink all the way round, most inspiring during that tough bit from 3 to 6 am.
As the sun comes up, and the birds start to sing, you get your second wind, knowing that you’ve probably only got 15 miles to go.
This year I thought I’d try to take pictures on the way round, but to be honest, it’s not easy. At the beginning, there’s too many walkers to just stop and click. After a while, the last you want to do is stop and take pictures, you just want to put your head down and go. Still, I got a few, though most are not really good enough for the web (a bit dark or blurry).
Some other points to mention. There’s a really cruel bit, where you see walkers (the fast ones) on the opposite side of the road, some 8 miles or more in front!
Another hard pill to swallow is when the Half Mooners peel off with one mile to go. You soon get over it though, after all, if you don’t finish, you don’t get the badge!
So how long did it take me? Just short of 9 hours! Bit longer than last year, but that’s probably due to there being more congestion. Still it’s not a race, it’s a walk, an experience and a poignant one at that.
To anyone reading this who sponsored me, a BIG THANK YOU. I’ll be badgering you again next year!
Too anyone googling, researching Moonwalks and considering doing it next year: See you at the London Moonwalk 2012!