Maggies' London Night Hike 2011 - Report Sherlockabilia Shop Now Open

Maggies' London Night Hike 2011 - Report * 18 September 2011

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Sitting down to write this, over 36 hours after completing the 'Maggie's London Night Hike 2011' with still aching limbs and sense of real accomplishment, we wanted to share with your our experiences during the event. We were truly astonished by the support our followers gave to us, the generosity you all showed, not to mention the constant messages of encouragement during the early hours when we were cold and tired with blistered feet and sore legs. You truly kept us going and reminded us what we were doing this for. 

On Friday 16th September 2011, the members of Sherlockology attended the 'Open House London Night Hike'. It was to be a twenty-mile walk through late night London in order to raise money for Maggie's Centres and help them continue their incredible work in providing those affected by cancer with whatever is needed. For anyone not familiar with Maggie's, their services include supporting sufferers and those closest to them who have just been diagnosed, undergoing treatment or post-treatment, recurrence, end of life or in bereavement. Maggie's is there and on Friday we were there at the starting line to support Maggie's.

Going back some months before in May, we went to see the film 'Third Star' starring Benedict Cumberbatch. It tells the story of twenty-nine year old James, played by Benedict, and his battle with terminal cancer. It was truly a wonderful film, thematically powerful, realistically written without resorting to sentimentality. Not to mention it is incredibly well shot, directed and brilliantly acted, the actors in question clearly identifying to their characters keenly. In fact, we were so moved by this devastating story of what a cruel disease cancer is, striking anyone at any part of life, we felt compelled to find out what support there was out there for sufferers and those closest to them. We also wanted to know what we could do to help.

We discovered Benedict had supported Maggie's Centres last year and attended the 2010 Night Hike, a fact mentioned in the 'Guide and Map' handed out at registration. Unfortunately everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer, and in raising sponsorship for the hike we have spoken to many people who have their own moving stories. So after much discussion between the team members, we decided to make the commitment to apply for this years event.

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Our start time was 8:15pm at the Leadenhall Market. We arrived an hour early and the place was packed full of Maggie's hikers - identified by teal t-shirts for the 20 milers, white t-shirts for the 10 milers with pink and yellow versions for staff - mingled with those just enjoying a drink or bite to eat on a Friday night after work. Normally we would probably have preferred to be there for the latter but the atmosphere was fantastic around the registration desks and everyone seemed very excited by what they were about to take part in and the knowledge that it was for the very best of causes.

We were given a t-shirt, guide map and bottle of water each and then we proceeded to the start line where the actress Hermione Norris (best-known for her roles in 'Cold Feet' and 'Spooks') stood on the presentation podium and gave a speech. She was walking this year in memory of Piia Anteroinen, who died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at only 36, in January, having met her last year when Piia launched the 2010 Night Hike with Benedict.

That last night hike raised £700,000, enough to run two Maggie's centres for a whole year, but this year the target was £1 million. Hermione spoke from the heart and was a very motivational speaker, reminding us as to why we were there and just how important Maggie's is to thousands of people at the hardest point of their lives. Dolly Parton's "9 to 5" then played out over the speakers as we did a little warm up to prepare our muscles for the oncoming onslaught and Hermione opened the walk.

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For the first few miles the walk itself is amazing. With a backdrop of the beautifully night lit city of London, the hike route views are breathtaking over the Thames. It is of course a view any Londoner or regular visitor is certainly used to, but accompanied by a constant flow of white and teel Maggie's t-shirts, there is a certain magical feeling about it.

We passed the BFI and 'Skylon' bar which looked quite different from the 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' Premiere we attended only days before and kept ourselves amused with 'Sherlock' location spotting. We made mental notes to come back to take photographs, of certain filming and plot locations used during series 2, for when we come to do the information for the future three episodes on our website.

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Just over a mile in, we passed City Hall which was our first stop, but we pressed on until 3.5 miles and our second stop at the Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank Centre. After a short break it was onto the third stop at the Royal Geographical Society at 6.6 miles on the journey, by which point the time was getting later, the air chillier and streets quieter, but we were doing well. Our legs and feet were holding up and we were looking forward to our next stop.

We made it to Maggie's London Centre, the stop that marked the 10 mile point and half way through our journey, a little after midnight. Recuperating which a short sit down and a hot drink, our muscles were starting to tell us they were not enjoying this as much as they had been, but it was only another two miles until our next stop at the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. The next 4 miles until we reached the sixth stop at the Royal Institute of British Architects was the point that things really started to hurt. You think you know what 20 miles will be like to walk, well at least you try to imagine it, but however good your imagination, it does not come close to the reality. With feet, legs, hips, backs, all violently objecting at this point, we sat down reading through all the tweets and messages we had received from you all and found the energy to continue on.

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Horse Guards was the last stop before the finish and left only 2.6 miles left to go. There comes a point when you wonder if you have another 100 yeards in you, let alone over two and a half miles and we were at it. In reading all the messages left on the balloons outside however, it really hits home that no matter how much agony we thought we were in, it was nothing in comparison to what the people who Maggie's helps go through. With that in mind, somehow, we managed to get up and make it to the finish at 20 Gresham Street. Greeted by volunteer applause and the presentation of a medal, it was just starting to turn light.

We were treated to a highly appreciated bacon roll and we sat down, tired, aching but overjoyed we had made it to the finish line and able to raise the money we had. Maggie's certainly put an enormous effort into the event, arranging for refreshments and snacks, laying on massages and live music at many points, projecting films featuring those who have been involved with Maggie's Centres and of course erecting arrows all throughout the route for the hikers to follow.

One strange event occurred while walking past Belgravia Square. A couple called out, "Baker Street, hi!" as they passed us on the pavement which was a little surreal. Had they noticed our lanyards or was it just a spooky coincidence? Guess we'll never know. We also clocked a row of leather armchairs, identical to Sherlock's from 221B, at the Royal Institute of British Architects. Although not the softest of chairs, having walked almost 18 miles by this point, they seemed to us the most comfortable chairs in the world!

A full gallery of images of the night taken by our photographer can be found on our Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.212173518845553.55701.163127987083440&type=1

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We would like to thank all our friends and followers who sponsored us :  

@JDMAttire, @fannyvonfabulus, Jason Allen, Al Ashbrook, Phoebe B, Katie Batchelor, Jill A Bearup, Andrew Biddle, Shirley A Birch, Neil Brewer, Trisha Caspersen, Dave Chambers, Graham Cookson, Silvia Crawford, Dave Dawes, Sean Domeney, Natasha Ehmann, Erica Eisenmann, Colin Etherington, Linden Farrow, Nichola Farrugia, Emily Garside, Tatjana Gassl, Helenq Gibson, Chris Gunton, Leif Harstad, Darryl Hartley, Richard Kruger, Jamie Lawrence, Yamunaa Sharmini Manikam, Kathy Manson, Loren McManamon, Melvina Mellin, Sheila Morgan, Pip Mulgrue, Riley O'Connor, Malcolm Parker, Fiona Partington, Kimberly Pifer, Anthony Piggott, Tabatha Reed, Christine Reynolds, Naomi Roper, Mara Stein, Sophie Stevens, Rachel Taylor, Catarina Tjällberg, David Watts, Jennifer Wilkinson, Dominic Wise, Lynda Wyse, to name but a few, and of course all those who donated anonymously. Thank you all so very very much, your generously was overwhelming.

Our 'Just Giving' pages will remain open for the next fortnight, so please if you haven't done so already and would like to donate still to this wonderful charity, please click the below link and sponsor any team member you wish as it all goes to the same cause:  

http://www.justgiving.com/teams/sherlockology

If you would like to know more about Maggie's Centre's and learn about all the tremendous work they do, please visit: http://www.maggiescentres.org/

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