This year #Walk50 gives you three options: you can take on the full 50km challenge, or walk a very respectable 25km, or join in with your family for a 12km walk at the start of the event. Everyone will set off from St Thomas’ Hospital and walk into the sunset along the River Thames. For full details click here.
And here, Ken Taylor and Janet du Chenne share their experiences of taking part in 2017.
“Funnily enough, the idea initiated from sitting on a train to London. A framed Walk50 poster on the train caught my eye. Raising money for Cancer Care seemed like a good idea and a very worthy cause. Can has been in my family & through my work I meet many people affected by cancer and all that goes with the conditions. It can be a sad and lonely existence.
So having glared at the poster for an hour or so I suddenly decided that I was going to do something useful with my life for once and participate. Why not, it’s only 50km!!
Having never done this sort of thing before I somewhat lacked confidence and needed to share this with someone. Just by chance and in passing I mentioned it to my colleague Angela. I’ll do it with you she said! I’m up for it… problem solved.
Over the days that ensued we started planning our conquest. Having spent a small fortune on the right gear from footwear, tops, bottoms and lycra – which I quite took a liking to – we embarked on our training. This involved walking for distances of up to ten miles a day in preparation. As the weeks went by it all got easier and self-confidence was building.
The big day arrived and we made our way to St Thomas’ Hospital. We met our group, attached our green wrist bands and at 8pm were released. Pit stops were every 10km and the first one was extremely welcomed. Blisters were already forming and the first plaster of many was applied. Comparing toes with relative strangers was not something we normally do but it seemed appropriate on this occasion.
Continuing along the Embankment we crossed Hammersmith Bridge and headed towards our second pitstop in Chelsea. All along the way we were accompanied by a team of London Paramedics and they were very helpful. After applying the second batch of plasters and some scented Vaseline we set off and continued on our way towards Tower Bridge. When we finally arrived our leader totted up the kilometres walked so far. She announced that we had completed 35km and had only 15 to go. Canary wharf was beautiful as the sun rose through the dawn mist.
The last pitstop was Greenwich. We all hobbled in in unison and had our last cup of tea.
The final 7km were the worst and the most painful. Passing rapidly through Deptford we could see Tower Bridge looking ever closer. Guy’s Hospital was our final destination and we arrived at 8.15am. Cameras, supporters and the charity organisers welcomed us with rounds of applause. It was a good feeling and we never gave up. Bacon butties and tea all round. Then we fell over.
For anyone thinking about doing it this year, I’d highly recommend it: in fact I’ve signed up again! – but it’s no walk in the park!”
Janet du Chenne
“Shall I order an Uber to take us somewhere for dinner and we’ll forget about this?”, I joked when we were just 10km into the 50km night walk for Dimbleby Cancer Care. But my question had some seriousness to it. Having not trained for the walk, I had my doubts whether I would finish it. But my friend Hosnieh spurred me on. She recalled how a friend completed 2 marathons in 2 days. With both feet over the finish line, he collapsed. What got him through it even when his body wanted to give in? Mind over matter. Never underestimate the mind’s ability to take over and get us through life’s challenges.
I knew this but would only fully appreciate it the next morning once I had finished. There were other factors at play too. I was walking with industry colleagues from Comms for Good, an initiative set up earlier this year to connect people in banks and fintechs. I was also inspired by some of the walkers who were in remission and for whom the 50km were a minor part of a bigger challenge they had faced.
We set off with a raucous cheer from the charity’s supporters and began our journey towards Battersea. As a photographer documented our (then) fresh faces I met other walkers in our group, including financial services technology professionals, doctors, a teacher and our paramilitary guide. We walked through Battersea Park and further down the riverside towards Wandsworth.
We carried on along past many pubs and reached the first pit stop at 11km. Our guide Rob led us on further. We passed the charming former Harrods Depository, now a residential building, and looped back over the Hammersmith bridge towards Chelsea.
At 21km we reached a school where I had a cup of coffee and lay down for 10 minutes. Despite the tense back and shoulders I was amazed at how far I had come. We set off again through Chelsea and marched towards Sloan Square.
We weaved through the city streets at dawn past the Old Bank of England. After meandering through the city of London we reached a hotel in Tower Hill. Amazingly I had managed to walk 32km and felt that having made it this far, I might as well continue. I sat down in the lobby, took off my shoe and was greeted by 5 big blisters. During our half hour break, a first aider helped me with the necessary bandaging to continue then we set out into a beautiful sunrise at 4am to complete the next leg. We continued along the river towards Greenwich passing through the tranquility of St Katherine’s Docks, Shadwell and Wapping. The walk was turning into a limp but stopping was never an option. We hobbled on, supporting each other and were amazed that Comms for Good founder Kate was even able to jog by that stage. We zig-zagged our way through Limehouse and Canary Wharf to Greenwich, stopping at a church hall having reached 42km. I asked the first aiders to add some padding to 2 newly acquired blisters and we were on our way for the last 8km.
With a second wind we set off, enjoying the growing business of the streets and the warmth of the morning sun on our backs. We walked through Shad Thames where cafes were readying themselves for the day. I moved at a snail’s pace but was relieved to be almost finished. We finally reached Guy’s Hospital where the charity’s supporters cheered us home. With tears of joy we entered the Cancer Centre and were welcomed with an enormous breakfast spread. After a few group hugs, a foot massage and some reiki healing from the team of volunteers, I finally called that Uber to take me home.
Despite the aches and pains the Walk50 challenge was an enriching experience and one that I would do again – but with proper training and footwear next time.”
To register for this year’s walk on 15th June, click here.