A few kilometres into our walk this year, mum and I tried to work out how many years we have completed Race for Life to raise money for Cancer Research. I think we agreed that it was roughly 8 times over the past 11 years, but the truth is, I remember our annual charity walks not numerically, but by the memories they promote.
We have walked Race for Life in many circumstances and in seemingly all weathers.
There was the year it was so hot that we passed 6 people receiving medical attention after collapsing from the heat. This included a wonderful woman we met who was jogging on her own. She was suffering from cancer and we hoped that she would make it the whole way round, it was sad that she didn’t.
There was the year we walked the whole way in the pouring rain, finishing looking like drowned rats.
One year we stood at what we thought was the front of the queue to the start line, only to be turned 180 degrees at the last minute, ending up at the back and crossing the start line a full 5 minutes after the first participants. After this we have tried, every year, to stand in the middle of the pack.
Our goal has only ever been to complete the Race for Life, we have never been worried about the time we finish in, but the year that we found ourselves walking behind a woman with a 3-legged dog I did insist we over take.
There have also been some very poignant walks, like the first year we walked in the memory of a dear friend from our Amateur Dramatics Group who sadly lost his battle through Lockdown, or the year we walked without my Step Dad cheering us on from the side lines; he was at the bedside of his own father who was also dying.
Give or take a few minutes the 10k Race for Life takes us 2 hours each year. We never try to beat this time and we never worry if we get slower. We participate, we turn up, we complete what we set out to do and we go home again, usually after a well earned meal out somewhere to celebrate.
This year, we completed the time in 2 hours 3 minutes and came through relatively unscathed, sore toes notwithstanding. We had a good a catch up and we raised a bit of money.
It is great to have goals when it comes to charity walks – to hit a certain time or fundraising target – but also great is the simple pleasure of participation.
The same can be said for group exercise. It may not be about hitting a number on the scale, or a certain step count. It may be about turning up, being in good company, having fun and listening music you really enjoy. And if you succeed in doing that then you have won.