Monday, 19 May 2014

Doing the Moonwalk with the KYOCERA Walkabillies

On the night of Saturday 10th May, 9 KYOCERA Document Solutions UK staff and 3 of their friends and family members walked round London in their bras as part of the Moonwalk to raise awareness and funds to fight breast cancer. As it was our first time, we opted for the “half moon” – a power-walked half marathon distance of 13.1 miles. The Moonwalk is designed to be a personal fitness challenge as well as raising funds and awareness to fight breast cancer and we were keen to ensure that even those who take little exercise could get around the course in a reasonable time. Thursday became training day, with 10 mile walks along the banks of the River Thames after work for those based at our Reading HQ. Some members of the team have also been attending Zumba and body conditioning classes together, and we’ve all seen our fitness levels increase. As the big day – or night – approached, we were feeling confident we could set a pace of around 4 miles an hour and finish comfortably within our target time of 4 hours.

Our training schedule was interrupted by the KYOCERA partner conference which took place over the preceding three days. The early starts, late nights and tempting food and drink were perhaps not the ideal final preparation but at least the conference gave us the opportunity to let our channel partners know what we were doing and to boost our fundraising with their generous donations.
On the day, we were dismayed to see that the weather was not going to be kind to us – strong winds and heavy rain showers were forecast and as we were shivering as we queued to get in to “Moonwalk City”. Things were more comfortable in the huge pink tent that is erected on Clapham Common as Moonwalk HQ – we enjoyed a hot meal, shed the layers covering our decorated bras and applied eyeliner and red lipstick to complete the rockabilly look that was this year’s theme. The Moonwalk’s founder, Nina Barough, introduced videos about the support for cancer patients made possible by grants from organisers Walk the Walk and two bands entertained us with music from the 50s. Then after a warm up session, we were off.
The start is divided into groups to avoid overcrowding but unfortunately some of the participants either didn’t respect or didn’t understand the instructions. Our group – the third out of six – had to be held back as too many people had left in the first two waves and it was just past midnight when we finally passed the start line. The congestion meant that the first two miles took us over an hour, and being made to stand still while overcrowding eased meant that we got very cold. The route snaked backwards and forwards across the Thames and up on the bridges the wind was really biting, although it wasn’t so cold when we were sheltered by buildings and it hardly rained at all; as the miles passed we got up to our training pace and began to enjoy ourselves.

We certainly got to see a different side of London – we passed iconic landmarks like the Millennium Wheel, Houses of Parliament and the Shard and saw the lights from the bridges reflected in the Thames. We got plenty of support from the volunteers, who must have got much colder than us as they stood for several hours along the course to ensure our safety, and from passing vehicles. It must have been quite a sight to see 17,000 people – men as well as women – walking through London in decorated bras, and it certainly felt like we were part of something special. In the coldest hours just before dawn, that camaraderie was important in giving us the will to keep going, especially in the final mile which was uphill. We felt elated as the pink tent came back into view, and emotional as we passed the finish line just after 4.30 am and collected our medals.
We completed our challenge, but more than that – it feels like a lasting bond has been created between the team. The shared experience of training together, decorating our bras and then supporting each other through the night as we walked has definitely brought us closer. Everybody completed the course, and thanks to our thorough preparation we didn’t even suffer a single blister, although one team member has since been diagnosed with a stress fracture in her foot. We’ve already smashed our fundraising target of £1,300 – the total is already over £2,300 and we still have pledges to collect. And some of us are already talking about attempting the full moon next year …

A big, warm “thank you!” to everybody who supported us, from the KYOCERA Walkabillies: Audrey Pickering, Coralie Coppock, Lou Marris, Mandy Hinton, Michelle Dunn, Olivia Stokes, Sandra Rogers, Sarah White and Tracey Rawling Church from KYOCERA Document Solutions UK, plus Debbie Skinner, Gillian Beeson and Leona Quinn.

To support the KYOCERA Walkabillies you can pledge here :

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