Walking through the pain, the rain – and anything else on the path
Did I mention I’m doing the Edinburgh MoonWalk? On the night of June 9th, five days before the Olympic Torch passes through Berwick, I shall be pounding the streets of Edinburgh, wearing a decorated bra and a determined expression. The good news is that I won’t be alone. I shall be in the company of thousands of similarly clad women (and plenty of men too).
Many, like Paxton Friend, will have had breast cancer, or be undergoing treatment even as they walk. According to Cancer Research UK 1 in 8 women will be affected, and it’s growing faster in Scotland than anywhere. Reports (World Health Organisation) show that many breast cancers could be prevented by reducing alcohol, change of diet, exercise and, most importantly, keeping a healthy weight. For many, the MoonWalk is the first step to a lifestyle change. It will be an emotional and exhilarating night. After all the training and blether we’ll actually be doing it – walking 26 miles. Fast. The atmosphere will be brilliant –embodying Walk the Walk’s motto: raise money, raise awareness, get fit and have fun! And, yes, we’ve set up a fundraising page – do give if you can. Thanks!
I was prompted to do the London MoonWalk eight years ago after my mum had breast cancer. Staggering over the line, London Daughter declared, ‘I shall never do that again!’ I’m chuffed she and her two former school friends are joining me. But virtual training is tough. So I advertised myself on Facebook asking the people of Berwick to train with me. One response was all I needed – and that’s what I got. Step up Paxton Friend. Our four or five-mile walks have become 12 miles; 15-minute miles, 12-14-minute miles. We’ve invested in ‘technical’ footwear to support our high insteps and rolling gaits. When family chat lulls, we do body checks: ‘Have you got that achy thing in your toes?’ ‘No, but my shins are throbbing and one of my glutes is pulling.’ Training makes you hyper aware of every little ache and pain.
It also makes you hyper aware of your environment – the terrain you’re walking on, and the scenery that whizzes by. The Husband insists I’ve lost the ability to simply walk and enjoy my surroundings. He’s right that I even treat putting the bin out as a training expedition. However, my powers of observation are alive and kicking.
Living around Berwick it’s hard not to be aware of litter hotspots such as the Nile Delta of cans down the bank above the Tweed, beneath Meg’s Mount. Others are less obvious but equally unpleasant. There’s a lovely circular walk along the Tweed via New Road and back along the other bank from the picnic site at East Ord. It’s blighted by the stream of detritus you have to pick your way through beside the A1. Do people think litter evaporates when thrown from a moving vehicle?
The other day, at a well-known fast-food outlet on the outskirts of Berwick, the car in front received their goodies through the window. Moments later, wrappers flew out. Did they realise what they were doing? Do they know that councils spend thousands of pounds of our (and their) money clearing litter? If ‘dine and dump’ were an Olympic sport – we’d be in the running for a medal.
When I was a gal, my mum would reduce us to tears if a scrap of sweetie paper so much as fluttered from our tiny, chilly fingers. At school ‘litterbugs’ were thoughtless creatures worthy of contempt. Whilst Paxton Friend and I are engaged with a campaign that enables a whole cross-section of society to choose to do something positive for themselves and for others, it’s kind of ironic that, each time we go out, we are faced with the evidence of people choosing to do something that has a negative impact on everyone.
(A version of this article was first published in The Berwick Advertiser on 3 May 2012)