Shine Night Walk 2016, I did it!

Last weekend was pretty epic. On Saturday morning I was up bright and early (and it was bright, an absolutely beautiful day) to Swim Serpentine (I’ll post about this later in the week, it needs a space all of its own!) then, once I’d refuelled, recovered and fuelled up again, I was off out to take part in the Shine Night Walk. As I wrote about previously, I had initially signed up to walk the full marathon, but realised I would be unlikely to make a volunteering commitment the next morning, so went for the half-marathon option instead. I popped on my official Shine t-shirt, along with some quite, erm, eye-catching tights a friend gave me and headed off to Southwark Park.

Clown pants

Clown pants

The train was crammed full with people heading off out for the evening but, when I hit Surrey Quays, I discovered where the party really was! I was greeted by brightly-coloured marshals, pointing everyone in the right direction and found a park full of groups of friends and family, helping each other pin on numbers, adding fairy lights to rucksacks, fitting hairbands with LEDs and adding a splash of colour to faces with neon paint. There was a lovely buzz of excitement and anticipation as people got ready to walk.



I collected my rather cool flashing, lit-up wristband, prompted by seeing everyone else waving their arms in the air and headed over to meet #TeamSole in the backstage area. It very quickly went dark and the air became cooler (though conditions at this point were perfect) and crowds gathered to warm up and watch some short films, reminding us why we were doing this. The park looked so pretty, with lights twinkling and sparkling and a Mexican wave swept the first group out towards the start area and off out onto the streets of London.



A quick catch-up with my team, some final adjustments to my outfit, a last-minute sugar-boost with an orange Club biscuit and it was time to join in ourselves.

Is it Christmas?

Is it Christmas?

Now, I have run very many races (some with a bit of swimming and cycling added in for good measure), of varying distances, but I can’t recall having a done a walking ‘race’ since school, so I was unsure of what to expect and how to pace it. A very practical and motivating goal was to be able to catch the last train home (I know), so I estimated I would need to pace myself to finish in three hours. I take just under two hours to run a half-marathon, so this would take quite some brisk walking! There was a bubble of excitement as we headed out of the park, lots of chatter and a lot of strolling. The race is walked on open roads (apart from a short stretch outside the park), so you have to use your common sense and negotiate other pedestrians and obstacles. This is easier in some places than others of course and, it being Saturday night in London, became more challenging in the centre of town, where there was a fair bit of encouraging banter going on!

All that marching kept me lovely and warm and I found I really did need a bottle of water when I came to a fuel station (and the chocolate-covered biscuits were welcome too!). One of the things I enjoyed most about walking through London at night was seeing everything lit up (not just us walkers), with the London Eye being a rather warming shade of red.

Red eye!

Red eye!

With a few bridges traversed, we got to enjoy sweeping views of the Thames to boost our energy when we might be flagging.

River view

River view

My photos turned out to be quite blurry, due to the blistering pace I was going at, though I wasn’t at all bothered by blisters, wearing my Sole double layer socks (they’re lovely and toasty too, perfect for long walks). I found myself walking largely by myself, tagging on the tails of speedy walkers, who paved the way through the crowds, but never felt alone, dipping in and out of overheard conversations. The miles ticked down steadily, marked clearly by big signs and it wasn’t long before we made our way through the slightly maze-like Victoria (what is going on there?!) and took a turn towards the finish. Of course, there were still a few more miles to cover, but psychologically, this was a lovely turning point.

Landmarks caught my eye, Big Ben struck eleven (I had passed by earlier, when he was striking ten!) and I kept on keeping on. A walk across Westminster Bridge, the Saturday evening strollers along the Southbank to negotiate and the end really was in sight! By now, I had a feeling I wouldn’t make that last train, but this didn’t slow me down at all! I skipped along, eager to cross London Bridge and, when I did, I smiled as I saw a row of balloons bobbing at the edge of the river. Another friendly marshal (they were all so super and encouraging around the course) told me ‘Not long now! You’re so close!’ and I swept along, boosted by this touch of friendliness.

Nearly there!

Nearly there!

Turning a corner, I saw Monument ahead of me and leapt down a short hill to this sign:



Outside the Old Billingsgate Fish Market were crowds of supporters, a red carpet, a tunnel of twinkling lights and lots of music. I thought I had finished, so stopped to take some photos, then realised the finish line was actually inside! I passed through, hands in the air, looking around the vast space to see many walkers, now warming themselves back up with hot drinks, taking group photos and hugging family and friends. Such a friendly and supportive atmosphere! I was presented with my medal and soon heard a voice I recognised…



I turned around and saw a friend who lives nearby, a big hug and she introduced me to her team (they all work in an intensive care unit), telling me they have done this for years now, having also tackled the full marathon, check out all these medals!



It really does seem like people come back to this event year after year, loving the organisation, the support, the route, the atmosphere and the opportunity to raise money for a good cause, remember those who have been lost and, best of all, celebrate those who have overcome cancer and are maybe even taking part themselves. Entries are already open for next year, why not get a team together and start training now?!


Shine Night Walk 2016

I quite often get asked by running friends to join them on 24-hour night-time challenges. I always politely decline, saying how much I need my sleep. I’m not quite sure then, why I’m going anywhere near this upcoming night-time event! I had initially signed up to the full marathon Shine Night Walk, but realised I would need to step back to the half-marathon option if I was to make a volunteering commitment on the Sunday morning – oops! So why did I agree to take part? The Shine Night Walk is Cancer Research UK‘s night-time marathon, to bring people together and to raise much-needed money to fund research into cancers that affect people around us every day. There will be people raising thousands of pounds and also walking to raise awareness, to remember loved ones and to celebrate those who are living with cancer.

I consider myself to be pretty fit, having taken part in a few endurance events in the past few months and having covered the half-marathon (and marathon) distance numerous times now. I do realise though, that I shouldn’t be complacent and imagine that this will be a walk in the park (or city, to be precise – see the course map here), so will be doing a bit more walking in the next couple of weeks, to gear myself up for the challenge. I have been given some very nice Sole dual-layer socks to wear and some footbeds to help me float on air around central London. I have no idea how long it will take me to complete the half-marathon distance, but I will look forward to cooling my feet and letting them breathe the next day, in my lovely, comfy flip-flops.

I think the course is well-stocked with aid stations, with loos and fuel, so I shouldn’t have to carry too much, but I do need to get myself fully lit-up, with face paint, glow-sticks and LED lights, well I do want to shine for the occasion!

FitArtist goes a-travelling

I am still here, really I am. I’ve been too busy being away or preparing to go away. Last week we had a bit of family quality time down in beautiful Dorset. We camped on a cliff right next to a beach so it was a tad windy at times, but the weather picked up towards the end of the week and we got to do a bit of this:


We saw lots and lots of these:


Ate plenty of this:


Met the neighbours through the mist:


And even did a bit of this (I’m being brave putting this one up!):


It was lovely to have a little break and lots of fresh air, even if we did feel we might be blown away at times. I did run on one of the days and I would say it is one of the most beautiful runs I have ever done. I ran up, up, up through the cows’ field, saying hello along the way, pausing to watch what I think was a seal bobbing around in the incredibly calm early morning sea, then tackled the biggest hill I have ever run up. I say run, but it was more of a hoist, heavily forcing each leg up to the next sod of earth I could get a grip on. The view was well worth the effort.

So, this week has been spent catching up and getting ready for the next big adventure (I haven’t run I’m afraid, so nothing to blog there, I’m feeling slightly lacking in the running mojo area…). On Tuesday we shall be catching a plane to Helsinki then travelling across country to the lakeland area of Kuopio for my performance as part of the ANTI Festival of Live Art. I’m ever so excited.


Click here to read all about what I will be doing next Friday.

Brasher Neon – Bossa and Paloma shoe review

In September I will be going for a very long walk in Finland. This is all part of the ANTI Festival of Live Art in Kuopio. I will be walking the marathon distance along a repeated 1km route over the course of one day. Of course, to do this I will need a good pair of shoes, but what do you wear for an urban walk of such a distance that doesn’t venture over muddy ground but will be a challenge for any shoes? I asked the people at FitnessFootwear and they came up with the goods, the Brasher Neon – Bossa and Paloma.

First Impressions

It’s so light! It is a sturdy shoe with good support and a tough sole and toe guard but still manages to be incredibly light for a walking shoe. Oh, and it’s a looker too!


Recently I have been finding my running shoes seem to be crushing my toes a little (have I grown?!) so I really hoped these wouldn’t give me the same problem – eight hours or so walking with toe-crush doesn’t sound like much fun to me. Thankfully they have quite a pointy toe area which is nice and roomy and I haven’t felt my toes touch the front once. Another problem area for me is the heel: I nearly always get blisters here with a new pair of shoes but haven’t experienced any problems here at all – hoorah!!

The Test

The weather has been crap, yes I know I keep going on about it, but I’m fed up of the rain now. This has meant a bit less walking around and fewer opportunities to try out my lovely new shoes. I have now given them a good few walks though (in the rain as well) and can safely say I am happy with them. One thing I noticed when I first walked in them was a little heel lift as I walked – they seemed a bit loose around the heel – but look, they have a nifty little strap to tighten the heel area to suit your feet!


I haven’t got it adjusted quite right yet, but it’s such a great idea to be able to tighten and loosen this area depending on the time of day/type of walk etc. I have worn the shoes in the rain and didn’t experience any wet feet moments but my feet felt a bit toasty when I wore them on a sunny day (but then I do normally wear Birkenstocks so anything that covers more than 10% of my feet will feel like a wooly jumper to my toes!).

The Verdict

I love them! If you are looking for a light pair of shoes for urban walks or not-so-muddy-or-rocky country walks then these are for you. I have been wearing them out and about with a pair of jeans and think they look pretty cool, so you could use these if you do a lot of walking in the town or a walking commute. We will see in September how well they withstand an extreme walking communte!

Some links

Hiking shoes

Approach shoes

Brasher shoes