Weekend to End Breast Cancer:
An Adventure in Walking 60k
began with an email last winter. A friend of 30 years invited me to
join her team, In the Pink, and walk 60 kilometers during
The Weekend to End Breast Cancer in Vancouver, BC. Hmmm,
I thought to myself, I walked the Portland Marathon in 2000; I certainly
could do a 60k; walk two 30k days and camp in-between. Of course, I
had forgotten that I hadnt done any serious training since a car
accident in 2001 but I wanted to support my friend, recently diagnosed
with breast cancer.
up, thus committing myself to raising $2,000 in Canadian currency. I
could do it, I told myself. My next challenge was figuring out the training
piece. My team lived and trained in the Seattle, WA. Not convenient
for me every weekend. It was too late to sign up with my previous training
group. Could I do it alone? Would I be willing to get out of bed at
odark 30 to walk especially if there was a hint of rain? Probably
not. I found the group, Portland Fit, which was just gearing up for
the walking season. My Saturday morning training walks were in place.
long before I raised the money, rediscovered that I could walk more
than four miles, and was packing for the great adventure. I arrived
in Vancouver, BC early Friday morning. Once the rest of my team arrived,
we headed to check in at registration. Then the search began for a restaurant
and a carbohydrate-loaded meal before retiring early. The bus to opening
ceremonies was boarding at 5:45am.
summer long, the Northwest was hot and humid with virtually no rain.
I prayed for a bit cooler weather and a little cloud cover. I was excited
when I saw the beautiful sunrise that morning, completely forgetting
the sailors saying, Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.
ceremony pumped us up with adrenaline and a few tears. A blank flag
was brought in to write on. I reflected on why I was walking: for my
friend and team captain, recently diagnosed, for my book club member
who lost her fight this summer, for my colleague fighting the battle,
and for my aunt, a 20-plus year survivor.
of smiling walkers filled the walkways of Vancouver as the group made
its way towards the waterfront and around Stanley Park. Pit stops were
every three kilometers for hydrating and refueling. The sky darkened
with every step.
11:30am the first raindrops hit. A shower refusing to pass. I finally
acquiesced to the blue rain poncho thus becoming a Smurf in the crowd.
Rain, rain, and more rain. My team huddled under the eaves of the restrooms
at Sunset Beach for lunch. The organizers began passing out hundreds
of space blankets. Now a sea of walking baked potatoes hit the streets.
I felt the slush, slush of my feet in my shoes as we crossed the Burrand
Street Bridge. Automobiles sped by splashing me. Would I make it the
full 35k today? My team found a place to change our socks. Changing
socks was not part of my routine but I was thankful I had brought an
extra pair. It made a difference; the sloshing of my feet subsided.
of walking in the rain passed. A mantra of one foot and now the
other foot, my head down to avoid rain in my face replaced my
correct walking posture.
had been flat until the last 9K. The hills arrived. Hills, a rain- soaked
body, and screaming feet do not make for fun. At 5:30pm Camp Killarney
Park was in view, six hours of walking in the rain completed. I was
greeted with high-fives by fellow walkers. Day one of my goal was completed.
The smell of dinner permeated the camp. A hot shower, food, and dry
clothes never sounded better.
and I wandered around camp dazed. The massage and chiropractic tents
were full but I grabbed one of the last reflexology appointments. Another
amazing experience. My feet still hurt as I fell asleep but in the morning,
I didnt feel like I had really walked the previous day.
morning, 4am, awakened by our neighbors, an hour too early. The rain
seemed to subside through the night until a major downpour between 5
and 6am. I wondered, Can I do this one more day? As quickly
as the rain started, it stopped. Could we be in for a dry day? I held
for dry clothes packed in Ziploc bags and dry shoes, I got dressed and
finished packing. I headed out with a smile on my face after wolfing
down a hearty breakfast.
pace seemed faster this second day. Was it the sunshine or the excitement
of being over half way? I heard cheering from my friends family
at Queen Elizabeth Park. To walk all that way and then see your name
on signs is emotional. Cries, hugs, and laughter. I was on my way again.
BC Stadium was in sight. Had I really done another 25K? The crowds
cheering grew louder with each step. Everyone lined up to slap my palms.
Then I saw the familiar signs. The tears came hard and fast. I completed
my journey of 60K. I was part of a team that my friend organized in
response to her own fight with breast cancer. I was part of an experience
that raised over $7 million for breast cancer research.
stayed with me, The rain may have dampen our shoes and clothes
but it didnt dampen our spirit. So true. I got soaked; developed
toenail blisters but the laughter, the camaraderie with thousands of
walkers was a lifetime experience. The Weekend to End Breast Cancer
was an adventure of spirit that wont be forgotten.
Rush MacCulloch is a teacher in the Evergreen School District in WA.
For more information about The Weekend to End Breast Cancer call 604-684-WALK