If you want an account of the event then read these excellent blogs from:
I am going to write about my thoughts and emotions.
I didn’t give much thought to the event beforehand; I’d entered as a result of my yes/no principle (see blog post 19th June 2017). Say yes more to different, challenging and exciting things; say no more to boring stuff and people stealing my time. Charlotte from the National Running Show contacted the ambassadors asking for bloggers to join the Action PR team to take on the challenge of walking the Shine Night Walk. I have never walked a marathon (I have walked parts of some tough hilly ones) and the thought of doing so at night in London appealed, so I signed up. I didn’t give it another thought after that until the day before, when I sorted out the logistics of getting there.
The last part of the trip was easy, I just had to follow the thousands of people making their way to Southwark Park, this was when I realised that the event was going to be something special. We were isolated from most of the excitement at the start as we were shown to a VIP/Media area behind the stage. A fancy name for a small gazebo with some white plastic chairs, but it still felt special. We were lead out just before the official start so that we would be at the front on the start line. A first for me – being in the front of an event.
The emotions came when the first walkers started passing us, they were there for a much more poignant reason than I was; remembering, honouring and celebrating the life of someone who had died of cancer. Many walkers had messages pinned to the backs of their tops mentioning loved ones, some had the date of when the person had died. Some had died long ago, but their memories were still deeply cherished. Others had passed away more recently. I was particularly touched by one message “For Mary my sister 19/7/17”. My father died of liver cancer when I was a teenager so I have an understanding of how much pain and turmoil is involved when there is a death in the family. For that walker the pain must have still been very raw, I admired her strength and courage.
For some, with the support of friends, the night was a celebration to remember a loved one, for others it was a very painful ordeal and they needed the support of friends to get through the experience. Towards the end of the event, as energy supplies were depleted, it became even harder for some, but they kept battling on. I have the utmost respect for them. I run marathons regularly so for me to walk one was not difficult, although I think it is easier to run than walk, but for most people it was a totally new experience and they rose to the challenge only allowing tiredness and grief to overcome them when they had finished what they set out to do; remember and honour a missing loved one.
My father died over 40 years ago and I thought I had sorted out how I felt about that, but I obviously hadn’t because, as I walked, emotions swirled around in my head and memories came back that I had long forgotten, or perhaps suppressed. Being with so many people who had lost someone in a way gave me permission and a safe environment to examine my feelings. I am very grateful for that opportunity and feel that I have now sorted out what was a little bit of unfinished business.
Shine walkers I feel very humble to have been part of that amazing event.