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Maria is ‘Over The Moon’ at The MoonWalk Scotland

Being part of Walk the Walk is like being part of a big family, everyone is always there to offer support and encouragement.

In 2016 I arrived in Edinburgh to take on my 3rd Over The Moon Ultra challenge at The MoonWalk Scotland and despite completing Over the Moon in 2014 and 2015 I was still nervous as I arrived in Edinburgh. The Over The Moon Ultra is a huge challenge, a huge commitment and to some degree it really does take over your life, it feels like all you do is walk, all you talk about is walking and when you’re not Walking you’re soaking your feet in a washing up bowl! 

I first entered The MoonWalk London in 2007 and to be honest I wasn’t keen. I signed up with a group of friends and at the time I didn’t know anything about Walk the Walk or The MoonWalk, all I knew was 26.2 miles sounded like a very long way for someone that didn’t like Walking! We did the training and had an amazing night, we raised lots of money and something happened I didn’t see coming, I become hooked on The MoonWalk!

I carried on taking part in The MoonWalk London every year thereafter, sometimes with a friend, sometimes on my own. Then in 2013 I heard about the Over the Moon Ultra challenge and decided to enter for 2014. Little did I know what a challenge it would be and how much training would be involved. Walk the Walk created a group on Facebook for everyone who had signed up for OTM and it was such a help to talk to others who were taking on this challenge. The one thing I learned very early on in the group is not to worry about how many miles everyone else is doing. Everyone fits the training in around their life, you have to make it work for you and everyone achieves that in a different way.  

When you arrive in Edinburgh carrying a MoonWalk hat or wearing your bra t-shirt people smile and wish you luck, there is something very special about taking part in the MoonWalk in a city where it seems everyone knows what you’re doing. In 2014 I walked the 2nd marathon with a lovely guy, Kevin who I met at about mile 30, we helped each other round the last 22 miles despite me carrying an injury and him having some painful blisters! We even got stopped during the 2nd lap by a lovely lady offering us a lift! We were wearing our medals from lap 1 and she thought we were finished and wanted to know if we would like a lift home! Tempting as it was there was no way we weren’t going to get to that finish line a 2nd time. The support in Edinburgh is like nothing I’ve ever experienced and that’s how I found myself at Edinburgh airport again in 2015 and 2016!

When I signed up in 2015 I joined the OTM Facebook group again and I met a lovely lady called Alison. We were both taking part on our own so we exchanged numbers and started supporting each other during training via text. Numerous texts went backwards and forwards mainly talking about how many miles we were planning that day and what food we would take on the night of OTM! By the time we even got close to the big night there was talk of us taking along a trolley for all our snacks! The last few weeks leading up to the event we were texting each other daily, countdown to the big challenge, stories of our aches and pains and even a few scary photos of our feet! Too gory to share here! The big night arrived in 2015 and I met Alison outside the tent in Edinburgh, luckily the stripy hats made it easy to spot a fellow OTMer! 2015 was a tough one, the weather was wet, windy and miserable! Thankfully walking with Alison made all the difference, at one point the rain and wind was so awful we just didn’t talk, we couldn’t hear each other so we saved our energy and put our heads down and got on with it. Despite the silence just knowing someone was there during those toughest miles was enough to keep you going. We had some amazing support along the route during the 1st lap but things quieten down during the 2nd lap as most sane people are tucked up in bed! Alison’s friends and my husband, Rob came to support us at mile 39 and it was just what we needed, we were more determined than ever to get those last 13 miles done and get this wrapped up, and that’s what we did! It was a tough night and poor Alison must have heard me say ‘never again’ hundreds of times, yet when registration opened for 2016 I signed up straight away!

I used The MoonWalk London 2016 as a training walk, a training walk with a medal at the end! Conditions were really good, perfect walking weather in fact. I managed to get round in 5 hours 35 minutes, went straight to the car afterwards and instantly fell asleep! You tend to think how on earth will I get round again if I’m asleep within minutes of finishing 26.2 miles but it really is a mind game! I remember reading a post that said its 35% physical and 65% your mental attitude and that is so true. I knew I only had to do 26.2 miles and so my mind and body were prepared to stop when I finished, during OTM I know I have 52.4 miles to do and my mind is prepared for that. If you do the training and believe you can you do it, you will.

So, here I was at Edinburgh Airport in 2016 to take it on again, I was as ready as I could be but this time I was carrying an injury from too much walking?! This still makes me laugh from someone who doesn’t like walking! I have a great physio who I see regularly during OTM season and 2 weeks before OTM he told me no more walking until the big night! That sent me in to a total panic and my questions were endless, the poor guy! He was, of course right when he said, I had done all I needed to do and I was ready, another couple of walks wouldn’t make a difference. I did take his advice and hung my trainers up until it was time to pack for Edinburgh. Looking back it was the right thing to do, my legs needed to recover and I’m sure I’ll be seeing him again during OTM season 2017! 

When I arrived at the entrance it was lovely to meet some old and new Walk the Walk friends all wearing our stripy hats. A fellow OTMer from 2014 and a new friend, Shirley who was taking on this challenge for the 1st time. It was lovely to finally meet the people you had been chatting with over the last few months, complete strangers who have been offering each other advice. There was just a fantastic bond between everyone despite the fact that you have never actually talked before, it just felt like you were all going to be there for each other and you would get through those 52 miles together. I’m still walking regularly with Shirley despite living many miles apart, we both walk at the same time at weekends and send each other text messages to keep each other company, another friend I wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for OTM.

The night itself in Edinburgh was another wet one! It started off dry and the first 25 miles it stayed dry, just as I finished lap one it started to rain and it didn’t stop until I was almost at mile 52. I had some great company during both laps, another fellow Walk the Walk addict, Elaine. We walked a good part of both laps together and it was lovely to have such wonderful company to get through the miles. Rob came to find me at mile 39 and I have never been so pleased to see him, I cried. Seeing him gave me a new lease of energy I didn’t know I had. The marshals and volunteers were great during the 2nd lap, I have no sense of direction and I always worry that I’ll get lost but I didn’t need to worry. There was a mobile support unit at all the points I would have probably taken a wrong turn, Nina and a crew were also driving around and checked I was ok when I came off a long stretch on the beach. There were even some fellow 2014 OTMer’s driving around supporting and I got regular shout outs from car windows. The sensible Moonwalkers who did 13.1 or 26.2 miles were heading home whilst we were still walking and so many of them beeped their horn, shouted out their car windows and generally just offered words of encouragement. The rain continued but by this time it really didn’t matter, I was wet and I could only get wet once so I got my head down until I saw the sight of the finish line. And so, as always, I got a lump in my throat and the tears started, it happens every time! It’s like a sense of relief that I’ve done it. My husband is always at the finish line, I couldn’t get through the training or OTM without him and there he was trying to take photos, tapping his watch and telling me to ‘hurry up’, he always does it and it just makes us smile, like I’ve got any energy left after 52 miles! And so, that was OTM 2016 done, 12 hours 45 minutes and my words as I crossed the line were ‘never again’! 

Being part of Walk the Walk is like being part of a big family, everyone is always there to offer support and encouragement. I’ve now completed 10 London MoonWalks and 3 OTM’s (as at Oct 2016). I love being part of something so big yet being able to help make a small difference. I have 3 gorgeous nieces and they are my inspiration to keep walking and to keep raising money! As I’ve been told many times, the words ‘never again’ don’t count for 48 hours after an event!

Maria

P.S. Maria come)s back for her 5th Over the Moon Ultra Challenge in 2018!... With commitment, determination and Training, this incredible challenge is achievable. 

Join us on the 9th June 2018 at The MoonWalk Scotland in Edinburgh... choose your distance and Walk the Walk of Fame with our 'Hollywood'  theme... unite with us against breast cancer and help make a difference.

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