It had been raining all night. Pretty hard at times. The event started at the stadium, so we walked there in a drizzle. But we were cool. We had trained in worse weather, and we had our rain gear. So here we are, mostly confident and mostly dry.
We found the rest of our team and made our way inside to the playing field of the stadium. This is likely the only time I'll be on the field level, and I only realized too late that I should have brought a ball and a couple of gloves. That would have been a hoot. Also, an indoor stadium would have been a great place to bust out a Frisbee® or a bunch of paper airplanes. We had some time on our hands before things got going.
The event was called
The Weekend to End Women's Cancers, and before that it was
The Weekend to End Breast Cancer. During the opening speaches we learned that the event would be renamed next year. So no more WEWC. Next year the event will be called
One Walk. They also mentioned that a new treatment had been announced.
About 32 kilometers of it. We had seen some portions of the walk during our training, and as part of living in and around Toronto. So portions of the walk were familiar to us. Other parts or the route were new to us. Based on the announced cheering stations, I tried to guess the route of the walk. I had almost exactly none of the route right in my guess. Really. Ah well.
Leaving the stadium by way of the loading dock was a change of pace. We'd been told by a friend who had participated previously that
the pedestrian traffic is bad. You'll be jammed up for blocks and that was true. This was no race, and there was no way to race. Much of the was spent in line, either waiting for others to proceed, waiting for traffic lights to change, or just waiting for enough space to advance. We were in a sea of pink.
The human traffic was about equal to the automobile traffic on many days. It can take several cycles of the traffic signals to advance through this intersection by car. And it was so for we walkers. I don't recall the human traffic being so heavy after sporting events at the stadium; after those, attendees each have their own destinations. We are all traveling on a single path.
The video provides the feel of the pedestrian traffic. It shows a lot of back. It shows the back of whomever is in front of me at the time. A few times I was able to hold the camera aloft for a better view. Next time, perhaps a crane of some sort.
An emotional day
It was an emotional day. Many walkers wore tribute clothing; sometimes with the names of their friends and family taken by cancer, and other times with photos. Some walkers were cancer survivors and others were current patients. One walker was 102 years old. When she was introduced at the finish line, the stadium went about insane. It was something to see.
One of the unofficial cheering stations was at Princess Margaret Hospital, the reseach hospital that is the beneficiary of this campaign. It was overwhelming, to me, to see medical staff, and patients and their families, outside cheering the walkers. It seemed inverted. We were supposed to be cheering them on.
Many more kilometers
The kilometers continued. Let's see the video.
The video takes us from the service areas beneath the stadium, out to the city streets, and through the first 12 or so kilometers of the day, about three hours. Then the battery was done, and so was the video.
Continuing, sans camera
The camera took a break but we kept going. More neighbourhoods, a lunch break, and much more walking. There were several ad-hoc cheering stations on lawns. Some home owners, offered encouragement from their porches, others were handing out snacks and refreshments. The kids were the best; they offered high fives, candy, lemonade and encouragement.
Return to base
The last legs of the walk were along the Martin-Goodman Trail, and we often had a veiw of the CN Tower, on the way in. We kept hoping that the tower would seem bigger after the next step, but we had to keep stringing the steps together in large numbers to really make a noticable difference. Arriving back at the stadium was another emotional moment. We were pleased to have finished, of course. The stadium was the site of the largest cheering section.
There were double-lines of volunteers (or staff? I'm not sure), for part of the plaza leading to the stadium entrance. More double lines, cheering us one, congratulating us and welcoming us through the stadium does and towards the walkway. More cheering along the walkway, an announcer, reading the names of the returning walkers over the public address system and then a phalanx of cameras to project the walkers on the big stadium display acreen.
First a seat
Once we made it back to the playing surface in the stadium, it was time to take a seat and get a load off the feet that had served us so well. We touched base with our very supportive parents, who had totally not been waiting right by the phone / computer, all day, to hear from us. We enjoyed some of the delicious beverages provided by the organizers, and caught our breath. We congratulated each other, of course, and relived some of the highlights of our walk and of the training we did beforehand.
Only looking slightly the worse for wear after 32 kilometers of walking through Toronto.
Thanks again, for all of the support and encourgement from all of you. We've had support from family and friends. From folks we know from college and from grade school. From folks we see all the time and from folks we haven't seen in decades. From colleagues and from clients. From you.
Thanks so much. You've made this easier than it might have been and you've made it more rewarding.
And we're helping to fight cancer.
Map images are from the Open server at MapQuest. Many thanks to the MapQuest Open Team. They have been an example of how to participate in the OpenStreetMap project as a good corporate citizen since 2010.
Umap is a service created and operated by members of the OpenStreetMap community in France. You should use Umap when you want to put a map on your web site and when you want to add things like cheering stations or a walking path to a map. It's fun and easy. You should try it.
Photos and Video
© 2014 Richard Weait