Saturday 20 May 2023 marked the 25th anniversary of the London MoonWalk. This amazing event is, in their words, “the iconic, original, and fun night-time walk organised by grant-making breast cancer charity Walk the Walk!”
Money raised by participants helps to boost awareness, invest in prevention, and support those living with breast cancer and other cancers.
This year, three intrepid swans – Jess Lyons, Andy Peters, and Steve Midgley – joined their friends Rachel and Elise to form a team and take on the full MoonWalk.
The whopping 26.2-mile walk is just as mentally demanding as it is physically challenging, because it is carried out in a sleep-deprived state. Participants start walking around 11pm, when most normal people are thinking about bedtime!
Jess has completed several MoonWalks over the years, but for everyone else this was their first time. Everyone put in weeks of training to prepare their feet for the 55,000 steps it would take to finish.
But forget that, the most important question was: what was everyone going to wear?!
As the challenge is about standing up to breast cancer, the dress code calls for a fancy bra. So, after hours with glue guns, tape, and sequins – not to mention online searching for leg warmers – this is what we came up with:
By 9pm, with our finished outfits on, we all made it to the MoonWalk City on Clapham Common, along with about 18,000 others. Never before have so many sequined bras been seen together.
It is a bittersweet moment as most people are here because their lives have been affected by cancer, but this is an evening of celebration – this year alone, nearly £2 million was raised to help continue the fight against cancer.
11pm, fresh(ish) faced and full of energy, and we’re off:
We leave Clapham Common accompanied by whistles, pop anthems, and tooting car horns. There is a real carnival spirit and it’s a spectacular sight for those having a quiet drink in the local watering holes.
From there, it’s a walk around Battersea Park, across Chelsea Bridge to the north side of the Thames, then back over Lambeth Bridge to the south side and our first pit stop at Lambeth Palace. Once we are back on route, we pass the London Eye.
Around the seven-mile mark, those completing the “Half Moon Plus” – a 15.1-mile version of the Walk – take a different route. Now, in a smaller crowd of walkers, we continue along the Thames to Tower Bridge, where we head north again and on to St Paul’s. Then, it’s back down to the Thames Path and onwards to Westminster.
From here we head to St James’s Park, Green Park, around the circumference of Hyde Park, past the Royal Albert Hall, south to the V&A – we’re about 18 miles in and time for the dawn chorus but there’s no time to stop and listen as we head on to Earl’s Court.
Then, it’s a circuitous route around Chelsea and Sloane Square. 21 miles in and it’s time for tea or hot chocolate.
A mile later and it’s “real” chocolate time with Mars Bars and Crème Eggs being the guys’ snacks of choice. By this point, the sun is up and it’s time to search for our sunglasses.
Once we are fuelled up on snacks, it’s back to Hyde Park Corner, down through Belgravia, past the Chelsea Flower Show, back across Chelsea Bridge, past Battersea Park – thankfully not around it this time – and we’re at the 25-mile mark.
For some reason, this didn’t elicit the joy anticipated – maybe because it’s after 7am, or maybe because there is a hill to come. OK, it’s a small incline but after 25 miles, it feels like a steep hill!
26 miles and everyone is a bit more joyful:
Barely a hop, skip and jump from there and it’s over the finish line where we get a medal and, of course, a well-deserved cup of tea.
I’ve edited out all the moans about aches, pains, and numb toes, which are now a distant memory. All in all, it was a great night for an even greater cause and, so far, we have raised £1,000!
If you are able to help us increase this total, then please donate to this great cause.
Who knows, next year there might be an even greater bevy of swans MoonWalking!