Saturday evening, 8.30pm - we arrive in Hyde Park. 'Will you do it with us?' we ask the taxi driver. 'Not bloody likely.' And he's dropped us off before we can arrange to meet him later somewhere along the route to hitch an illegal lift. The park is full of people - women AND men - with pink hats and pink glittery bras on our t-shirts. We're all slightly hyper, and it's strangely reassuring that I'm not the only nervous one. The noise inside the park is overwhelming and all you can see is pink...
Once inside the pink marquees - after a long long queue - everybody strips off. The rain's a bit of a downer, but we get given space blankets and see through ponchos to wear. We join the queue for our food only to find we're waiting to get a tattoo by mistake. Later we join the queue to have a massage. This seems an evening for queuing, but it's all good-natured, not least because there are constant reminders everywhere of why we are there (and how lucky we are to be there at all):
We finally set off walking around midnight, and it seems to take hours to get out of the park. We take a winding route down to the river where, just when we need it, we are cheered by the sight of London Bridge bathed in pink light especially to match our hats:
It's been so noisy as everyone talks and laughs, but slowly it's noticeable how we get quieter and quieter as exhaustion sets in. We pass Big Ben as it strikes three o'clock in the morning. There's something wrong with the mile markers between 15 miles and 20 miles because there must be at least three miles distance in between. The wonderful volunteers along the route claim they're right however, and I can't be the only one wondering if it's worth it. A conversation about maybe doing it next year, or at one of the other moonwalks round the country, has been firmly put to one side. Round every bench along the way there are empty painkiller and blister plaster packets:
One thing that keeps me going is the texts and phonecalls we start to get. Messages from friends and family who have remembered us and stayed up to pass on their good wishes get passed around the group. 'So proud of you all', 'Go girl go', 'Stay warm, stay dry, walk well.' Not for the first time that night, I keep bursting into tears. Normally I hate mobile phones going off, but we're all smiling every time we hear that someone has got a new message. We need all the help we can get.
We can't believe our luck in that the rain stays off. At twenty miles, I've been promised a special painkiller. When we reach the marker, I'm overjoyed. My whole world seems to have reduced down to my legs and my feet. I'm trying to work out whether the bird who starts singing at around Battersea Dogs Home is following us or not. We are all finding it difficult to concentrate, and I spend at least one mile trying to remember who it is who designed the famous '58% don't want Pershing' t-shirt.
Luckily none of us can remember the words to that Westpoint marching song either, and then, as the light comes up, we get a second wind. It's a beautiful morning and we're on the home stretch: