As I sat on the steps waiting for my walking buddies before the half marathon, it dawned on me how many people’s lives have been affected by cancer. Nearly everyone there was wearing their Walking Star on their back with their dedication to someone they were doing the walk for. There were the names of sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents, friends, children. It was sobering and brought a tear to my eye. My dedication was to my dear Dad who passed away from cancer in 2007. Then I began to look a bit more closely. Not all of the stars were ‘In Memory’ of someone. Some of the stars were dedications to people going through treatment or who were survivors. We weren’t going to do this stupidly long walk in the middle of the night just for people we remembered, we were doing it for people we still had hope for.
Surrounded by a sea of yellow made up from Cancer Society balloons and t-shirts I met my fellow walkers. We didn’t all know each other before we walked but there was a connection between us all in some way. I knew a couple of people through our children and one as a Twitter pal, now friend in real life, but by the end of the walk we all knew each other a lot better. I won’t lie to you, this wasn’t an easy walk, but being able to chat all the way round certainly made it easier on the old bones.
The walk began with a couple of circuits of Auckland domain as the sun had just set and then took us up Grafton Road, across the bridge and on to K Road. It was a sight to be seen; 2500 walkers in yellow, at this point still all quite close to one another. Drag queens came out from the clubs to cheer us on, customers at the sex shops looked a little confused.
Ponsonby Road was great to walk along too. Loads of support from everyone in the bars and pubs, high fives as we walked along, the odd nod from the hipsters. The atmosphere was great.
The walk then took us down towards the Harbour Bridge. In the ten years I’ve lived in Auckland I’ve never been down here so it was a special experience. Clearly a hang out for fishermen, teenage drinkers and couples wanting to make out in their cars normally on a Saturday night, neither the fish or the revelers were getting any peace and quiet this night! We walked under the bridge and made the half way point. The view of the Skytower and cityscape was breathtaking.
Through Westhaven Marina, around Victoria Park and into Wynard Quarter, the body was getting sore now. It was also shouting at me “this is past your bedtime, what are you doing?” But on we went. Wynard Quarter was surprisingly quiet and the walkers had started to thin out a little so on came the tunes to keep us moving. It worked and we even managed a little singalong and a wee dance.
The walk along Quay Street was the quietest; normal people had headed home to their beds by now and there was little to look at. We also knew the hardest bit was round the corner; the steep hill of Parnell Rise. By the time we got there my hips were killing me. My feet were fine, but my head was aching. I had drunk lots of water but on this humid night I was suffering the effects of dehydration. It was getting tough but I reminded myself why I was doing this. I was raising money for the Cancer Society. I was doing to this to help people affected by cancer. I was doing this for all the people who had put their faith in me and sponsored me. I was doing this for the memory of my dad.
So pure determination, cursing and some fruit pastilles got me up that hill and back in to the Auckland Domain. The end was in sight. The pure relief when I stepped on to the grass from the concrete was immense. I would never have realised the pain the pavement could cause.
So, would I do it again? If you had asked me on Sunday morning when I could barely move, was vomiting from dehydration and thought my head was about to explode of course I would have said no. But my body has bounced back amazingly. By last night I felt tired but my body no longer ached and when you put everything in to perspective, yes, I will definitely do something like this again. I know the answer is yes because I have done other events for charity before including two “running” half marathons. I say “running” as I’m not exactly the sporty type which is why these are events are way more of a challenge for me and probably one of the reasons I get so much sponsorship from friends and family; they can’t actually believe I’m going to do it!
I raised $838 for The Cancer Society on Saturday night. I’d like to think I’ve made a difference. If we have our health and we can give up our time, we should all try to do something like this in our lifetime. Helping others has shown me a different kind of happiness. I hope this post has gone some way to explain that.
If you would like to support The Cancer Society here is my page. Thank you to everyone who has supported and sponsored me so far. If you like this post, please share so we can help The Cancer Society and Walking Stars even more.