Not a phrase this author ever thought she would utter. However, participation in the London MoonWalk 2017 convinced me that (in some circumstances) it is 100% accurate.
During the course of Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 May 2014, a 22 strong Squire Patton Boggs’ team (a motley crew comprising lawyers, support staff, clients, friends and family) participated in the London MoonWalk 2017 to raise funds for WalkTheWalk, the breast cancer grant making charity. Our team was aiming to raise a total of £15,000 by either completing the Full Moon (a 26.2 walk) or the Half Moon (a 15.6 walk). What sets the MoonWalk apart from other challenges of this type is that it takes place through the night (the earliest walkers depart at 10.30pm) and that walkers (male and female) are encouraged to walk while displaying their bras decorated using any number of glitter, feathers, tassels or sequins to suit that year’s theme (or personal taste).
What does the MoonWalk have to do with Sports Shorts? A valid question. It is clear that this is not an Olympic or professional sporting event: there are no points available for participating (other than for style), participation does not offer an opportunity to qualify for a ‘Champions League’ of MoonWalks (though that is an idea), and preparation need not be too (read ‘at all’) strict (one member of our team prepared by attending Secret Cinema Moulin Rouge the night before – at least it prepared them for dealing with the sleep deprivation!). Notwithstanding, it struck this author (between the very trying hours of 3 and 4am on Sunday) that what the MoonWalk does represent are the positive values inherent in sport and sports participation. Following a weekend where the integrity of FIFA was again called into question and a year where scandal after scandal seemed to hit sport, this seemed a good opportunity to remind ourselves of why sport matters, only some of which is a little tongue in cheek:
Teamwork – it’s an obvious but important one. All too often we forget the value and satisfaction in working together to achieve a common goal. From bake sale to badly dressed day to more conventional collection buckets – 22 individuals spanning four offices in four different cities came together to raise funds for charity in the common belief that doing so would (hopefully) improve the lives of persons unknown to them.
Dealing with setbacks – the ability to deal with setbacks is something that can make the difference between a great player and a champion. I saw plenty of this in my teammates and the wider MoonWalk participants. For example, one of my colleagues lost half of one foot to two inconveniently large blisters at approximately 6am but soldiered on to the finish with no complaints and head held high one and a half hours later.
Never-say-die attitude – the ability to drive forward in the face of adversity or challenge is a skill that is common to almost every elite athlete. I saw that exact same attitude in each of my teammates this weekend and in every man, woman and child we passed (or watched pass us). Trust me when I say that you need that drive when at approximately 4.30am it begins to rain, you narrowly avoid what can only be described as a downpour of bird poo and you accidentally drop your final red Jelly Baby on the pavement (everyone knows that is the only flavour worth fighting for)…
Success is best when there’s someone to cheer you on and to share it with – the greatest matches and races are only deemed so because there were people there to watch, support or sympathise, and to talk about the result afterward. The MoonWalk would not have been the same had it not been for the incredible volunteers who cheered us on from the moment we started to the moment we finished (some nine hours later). A special mention must also go to the boyfriend of one of my colleagues who turned up on the course at 6am with a care package of water, chocolate and paracetamol. An example of sharing success at its finest.
So while we may have been very far from an Olympic medal or the Premier League trophy at the weekend, our team and the other circa 15,000 participants in the MoonWalk were learning (or developing) life skills that are undoubtedly transferrable into ‘real life’, while raising money for charity. Winning was very far from our mind-set but, sometimes, it’s the taking part that counts. And, while we are partaking, it does us no harm to reflect on some of the basic attributes of the sporting industry that we all work hard to protect.
Should you wish to donate to WalkTheWalk, the SPB 2017 MoonWalk team’s page is available here.