First Paragraph: Writing Samples

Over The Moon

Elaine Brown took part in the London Moonwalk to raise money for breast cancer charities. She describes last weekend's event.


Early on Sunday morning while you were lying in bed, probably still asleep, I'd just completed a marathon.

The London Moonwalk is a power-walking marathon in aid of breast cancer charities. Everyone starts just before midnight and walks through the night.

Last Saturday evening I was sitting in London's Hyde Park on the hottest weekend this year. I was surrounded by people wearing bright pink caps and bras. Yes, even the men.

It's a Moonwalk tradition that everyone wears decorated bras and this year flowers, fur and tartan were popular. More inventive were those with fairylights, very effective in the dark.

Silver bubblewrap was stapled to my bra. As I was taking part with my husband and my brother, anything too feminine was out. Wearing a bra was as feminine as they were going to be. Silver had associations of armour and breastplates. And, for me, it matched my silver trainers.

In the park at sunset there was a festive atmosphere. It was like the start of a rock concert as 'get up and go' music drifted from the main tent where Bjorn Again were belting out Abba songs.

I was feeling nervous. Was this really one of my best ideas?

At 11.30pm, I was on the start line. When huge green 'go' lights came on I'd like to say I strode out but it was so congested that I only shuffled forward with the crowd.

Eventually over the line I was able to pick up speed.

The first few miles were a blur through Westminster and Chelsea as it was dark and noisy. Not all roads were closed for us and the pavements were congested. Drivers sounded their horns. People waved and yelled 'good luck'. Then step after step began to turn into mile after mile.

In the heat, I flagged about 3am. My mind kept telling me to sleep but I was determined to get at least beyond halfway.

About 3.45am the sun started rising and sunlight made all the difference. The spring in my step returned, I sped up again and crossed the Thames to Battersea.

Houses of Parliament, early in the morning

From there, I ignored the mile signs and focused on looking along the river.

The sun rose higher as we passed Lambeth Palace, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben where the light made the buildings particularly beautiful. If you want good photos in London, I can recommend 5am on a sunny day.

At Tower Bridge the heat really increased but even a small breeze helps keep you cool in a bra.

With 6 miles left I felt fine and could almost sense the finish line. But it was too early to assume I was home and dry.

In the last three miles the heat really got to me and every mile took twice as long to cover. My blisters hurt. I wanted a shower, clean clothes and, above all, a lie down. I had to keep going but I was struggling.

Finally I hobbled into Hyde Park again towards the finish line and almost too quickly I was across with my husband and my brother alongside. There was no need to tell me to smile—I couldn't stop smiling. Seven and a half hours of sheer hard work never felt so good.

Also we raised a fantastic £5000 between us.

Would I do it again? On Sunday evening I'd have said once was enough. Now I've had time to think about it, I'm wondering if I'll miss the training.