Eight of Malvern’s finest took part in the Shine Night Walk last weekend – did we make it to the end?
When an email arrived a few months ago asking for people to form a team to take on the Shine Night Walk, I jumped at the chance. I’m fairly new to Malvern Instruments, so I thought that joining a challenge like this would be a good way to get to know more people, while also raising money and awareness for a great cause.
Shine Night Walk, an annual event arranged by Cancer Research UK, involves a night time walk around the centre of London, either a half or a full marathon in length. It takes place at night (hence the name!), which makes it more gruelling than usual as your body protests at being made to walk when you would usually be in bed.
Our team of eight – a.k.a the Malvern Meanderers – opted to take on the half marathon. A wide range of departments from across the business were represented in the team – Chris Church from IT, Rachel Lewis from Finance, Irina Stan from Sales, Luke Green from Applications, Alison Findlay from HR, Victoria Bicknell from Shipping, Annabelle Whittall from Manufacturing Engineering and me from Marketing.
The day before the big event we held a bake sale in Malvern’s UK HQ to raise some extra funds, and also to help us to carb-load. We were going to need some extra energy to complete the 13.1 mile course. Our bake sale raised £168 in just a few short hours – the Malvern folks sure do like their cake!
As the day of the Shine Walk arrived, I was feeling slightly nervous. I’d started out very keen, with some six mile training walks back in July, but has since fallen off the wagon. I hoped I would manage to get round the course without doing too much damage to a body which is more accustomed to spending Saturday night on the sofa.
We gathered at Malvern’s HQ on Saturday afternoon to get a mini bus which would take us to the starting line in central London. After an uneventful journey down South, we arrived at Southwark Park to find the trees lit up with purple lights – an amazing sight.
As we approached the event arena, we saw more and more people with shiny, light up, glowing adornments. We had to get in on the act. Between us, we must have had more than 100 glow sticks, plus flashing headbands, neon face paints, tutus and ankle warmers. Luke even sported a rather fetching geometric design on his face.
After munching down on burgers and chips (more essential carb-loading) it was time to get moving. We chose to join the ‘Striders’ – expected to complete the course somewhere in the middle, between the ‘Power Walkers’ and ‘Strollers.’
Before we even had time to join in the communal warm up, we were herded along to the start line – it took us around 20 minutes to walk the couple hundred metres to get there due to the heavy crowds. And then we were off! Only 13 miles to go!
There were all kinds of reasons that the individuals in the Malvern Meanderers team took on the Shine Night Walk. For some, the reasons were deeply personal – close family and friends had been affected by cancer and they wanted to prevent others going through the same heartbreak. It was the same for many of the other 17,000 participants. On the night, each participant wore a sign on their back declaring who they were ‘shining for’ – husbands, moms, sisters, aunties and friends. Catching a glimpse of those names was a sobering moment in a night of fun and celebration.
The first couple of miles were slow going, as there were so many people – we all hoped that the crowd would thin out a bit as we got further along. The great thing about the Shine Walk is that it takes you past some of the most iconic landmarks in London. The first treat for us – Tower Bridge!
It wasn’t too long before we reached the first rest-stop four miles in, at St Paul’s Cathedral. Time to top up our energy reserves and rehydrate. There were free snacks and water provided at each pit stop; I’ll leave you to work out what the snack was at pit stop 1….
One of the best moments of the night for me was when the route took us past the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, where researchers in lab coats were waiting outside to cheer us on. We did wonder as we went past if there were many Malvern instruments in the labs inside – after all, many of the instruments we produce can be used in cancer research.
The weather was brilliant for a night walking – I was comfortable in just a t-shirt for the whole route which was incredible for Britain in late September. This made the going easy, and we arrived still mostly in one piece and feeling energetic at the second rest stop, around mile 8. After that, it got a little bit harder, the miles felt a little bit longer, and we were starting to dream of the finishing line. At one point Alison got down on her knees to get a good photo, and nearly didn’t make it back up again.
We were lucky that we had amazing views of the Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye kept us soldiering on.
Finally, after what seemed like a very long walk from the final 13 mile marker, we had done it! We arrived at Billingsgate Market after around 6 hours (I know that sounds very slow – you have to factor in rest stops, photo stops, blister patching, being caught in traffic jams!) mostly in one piece, where we were given shiny medals to commorate our achievement. What a night! The whole team agreed that the atmosphere, the team spirit and the feel good vibe from helping Cancer Research UK made it well worth losing a night’s sleep.
We don’t have a final count yet of the money we have raised, but with the funds from the bake sale, we’re certainly heading towards the £1000 mark. Thanks to Annabelle Whittall for getting this whole thing going, to Malvern Instruments for hiring us a mini bus to get to and from London, and to all our wonderful colleagues, family & friends who sponsored us.
We’ll be back next year to take on the full marathon! Our Just Giving fundraising pages are open for the next few months if you would like to sponsor any of the team – it’s all for a great cause – click here.