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The MoonWalk Iceland 2012

In September 2011 I took leave of my senses and signed up for what was to become a most amazing adventure. When I took on the Three Land Challenge I’m not sure what I expected. I knew it would be tough, I knew it would be exciting and I knew I would be doing some good, giving something back in thanks for my lovely cousin Lucy’s return to health. What I hadn’t bargained for was the fact that this challenge would give me something money just cannot buy.

They’ve done it!

[Note from Guy: The best stories are always from those who actually took part. In this post Rebekah gives us her intensely personal view of what happened both on her 3 Land Challenge and at The MoonWalk Iceland]

In September 2011 I took leave of my senses and signed up for what was to become a most amazing adventure.  When I took on the Three Land Challenge I’m not sure what I expected.  I knew it would be tough, I knew it would be exciting and I knew I would be doing some good, giving something back in thanks for my lovely cousin Lucy’s return to health.  What I hadn’t bargained for was the fact that this challenge would give me something money just cannot buy.

It has given me back myself.

I have been lost for such a very long time.  Lost in being wife, mother, teacher, daughter, colleague.  I am no longer lost, I am found.  And I am found thanks to the other 80 amazing women and one lovely man taking part in the 3LC.

I began my training in good spirits, determined that this year I was NOT going to take 10 hours and 45 minutes to cross the line but it didn’t seem to matter how hard I trained nor how hard I pushed myself, my time and my speed remained stubbornly constant.  I found that remarkably frustrating and bored the pants off my Facebook buddies bemoaning the fact that I would be last!  It didn’t matter how much they reassured me that it wasn’t a race – deep down I felt embarrassed and ashamed, as if I would be letting people down if I was slow.  However, I am a stubborn person and, if I take on a challenge I give it my best so I just kept on walking, training in all weathers, following the plan as if it was my own personal bible. The hardest part of the training, I found, was the moment of stepping out of the door but once out there it was my headspace, my chance to think and reflect, to plan and dream, to visualise the moment I would cross the line.  By the time London arrived I had a damn fine sparkly bra, a host of new friends and a gritty sense of determination.  ‘I can and I will’ became my mantra.

London was amazing.  There are no words for how I felt that night, standing on stage with 40 of the most awe inspiring people I have ever met, hands raised in silence as we shared the energy with 17,000 others.  I am, as ever, in bewildered awe at Nina – who else can reduce 17,000 excited people to silence so quickly?  I often wish I had her power in a classroom!  I left the stage high on life and plunged into marathon number one.  Thriving on jelly snakes and chocolate I made it home in 8 hours and 40 minutes, the last of the 3LC but nearly 2 hours faster than I had done London in 2011.  My lovely cousin was standing at the finish line to greet me and I will never forget the joy I felt to see someone cheering just for me.  I felt epic, victorious and immensely hopeful for my 3LC challenge.

Edinburgh is a different story. I arrived feeling under prepared but soon recovered as I met up with the rest of the 3LC.  Seeing Fran with those camels! Dancing to the drummers (In my wasted youth I was a dancer in a Samba band and my feet itched to dance)!  My fears eased and I think I even smiled in the picture Guy took.  And then the heavens opened.  And it rained.  And then it rained some more.  I did think I might drown as I stepped outside!    Edinburgh was a struggle.  I was wet and cold.  I had the most disgusting blisters I have ever seen and my knees kept giving way.  I got round because failure was not an option – I was finishing the damn marathon because I was getting that 3LC medal in Iceland come hell or high water.  I was elated when I crossed the line, despite being disappointed with my time, because it meant the 3LC medal was in my line of sight.

The week between Edinburgh and Iceland passed in a blur of cooking, cleaning, washing, packing and writing lists for Michael, my long suffering husband, my rock and my anchor, so that he knew what to eat when and who to take where and what to do if……. I tried to prepare my children but I spent the Wednesday night with my daughter Eleanor clinging to my legs sobbing ‘Please don’t go to Iceland Mummy, do your big walk here.’ while my son Thaddeus fretted about volcanoes.  I looked at their little faces and for a moment I wondered who on earth I thought I was, leaving them to do this thing, this walk. And then I knew I had to.  I had to show them that I am more than ‘Mummy’ – I am a person with my own hopes and dreams, just as they have theirs, and that my dreams are as important as theirs.  So I kissed them goodnight, told them I loved them and that I would be back soon.

And now I come to the part of my adventure that touches my heart.  My Icelandic adventure.  My days in the Midnight sun.  My moment of truth and self discovery.  Words cannot do that justice but I shall try.

Iceland was all I expected and more.  It is a truly wonderful country filled with a sense of the raw earth. I felt closer to my maker there than at any other time in my life.  But it was not the place that wrought such changes in me but the people I was with. 80 people from so many different backgrounds and with so many stories to tell.  To start with I felt on the edge, as I so often do in life.  I knew names and people from Facebook and the two previous events but who was going to want to talk to me?  I am no one of consequence, I am not exciting or funny or pretty or amazing.  But to my amazement they did!

My journey back to me began on a hike up a volcanic crater. I don’t do ‘up’.  I am slow and I get out of breath.  But as I struggled up that crater they waited for me and the cheer they gave me when I reached the top gladdened my heart and filled me with a sense of pride I had not felt in a long time.  As we began our descent down that long zig zag path we were a team.  I remember watching as those who were worried by the steep path were supported and guided, a hand here, a caring word there and those who made it to the bottom stopped and waited.  No Puffin gets left behind!  And the cheers as we all made it down were real.  We mattered.  And if we mattered to the team then we should matter to ourselves.

The Moonwalk Iceland began with the most riotous and fun warm up I have ever experienced!  Forget Roy Gayle and his dancers.  What we need is Nina, an accordion player and a conga line!  If you look at the photographs of that night we are smiling smiles of real joy.  We were nervous – for good reason- but we were happy and having fun.

Nina counted us down and we set off.  Pretty soon everyone found their pace and the line began to string out.  I soon found myself at the back, my rightful place!  At first I was a little embarrassed and ashamed but the lovely people on the support buses gave me cheery waves and I was able to answer each time that I was alright, I was fine, I was happy.  I plodded on through the night, bringing up the rear, sweeping the road, being the back marker.  My trusty MP3 player provided me with a selection of music and I was in the zone.  As I walked I visualised crossing that line.  I planned the jump of joy I would give, the fact that I would be wearing my bra, the fact that I would smile and be proud.  After the toilets at the Hotel Sel I felt renewed and invigorated and plodded on.  At one pot Dot and Mandy gave me the fright of my life as they over took me – for a few glorious Kilometres I hadn’t been last and I hadn’t known!  At one point Sally appeared with soup and sweeties!  That soup was delicious!  Sadly it heralded the lowest part of the night for me as I trudged past the lake and the wind got up.  The sun began to set and it dropped very cold, taking my spirits with it.  I concentrated on counting down the kilometres and trying to work out how many miles I’d done.  There was no option to fail as far as I was concerned but I saw my lovely fast (for me) pace drop away, put my head down and plodded on.

Just before kilometre 38 Sally and Lorraine got out of the support bus and asked if they could walk with me.  I was so glad to say yes but also so despondent at being last.  Sally, in her no nonsense way, talked me out of that and soon my pace had upped and I was back to bouncing along.  Sally was a lovely walking companion, so cheerful and encouraging.  The last few miles seemed to go on forever but at last I could see the flags fluttering in the breeze so I stopped and removed my jacket and the plastic poncho.  The wind was chilly on my bare skin and for a moment I nearly put my jacket back on but then I heard, carried on the breeze, the faint sound of the Moonwalk anthem and so I strode out.  I could see Guy waiting with the camera, I could see Nina and the WTW team and I could see Heidi and I smiled the biggest smile.  I had made it, I was home.  I crossed the line and I gave my jump of joy.  Heidi gave me my medal – the first to the last – a fitting gesture I think and then they piled on me.  Then came the tears.  I was done.  I had prevailed.  I had Walked The Walk in three countries.  I felt like I could burst with pride.

At some point in those mad few minutes someone told me I was amazing.  For a micro second I began to protest and then I stopped.  I AM amazing.  But I am no more amazing than Kate, who battled with a painful ankle, than Mary, who travelled alone to WTW in Iceland, than Heidi, who walks like a whippet and overcame a painful illness, than Kla, who battled a painful back, than Denise who fell and broke her tooth and still finished…… There are too many to mention but we are all amazing, each and every one of us who trod that path that night.

Rebekah Boyns (number 3)

And so my adventure is over.  But I am found.  I hold in my heart that feeling of triumph and I know I can do ANYTHING!  I have pledged, publically, to do Edinburgh in sub 8 and I am planning my next challenge.  I think I might be a WTW addict!

For me the Three Land Challenge has been about hope and family.  And Puffins.  Whom I love, very much!

And here’s a film all about their experiences

Find out more about The MoonWalk Iceland and 3 Land Challenge

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