Luckily Saturday turns out to be a cooler day compared to the previous few days. I am meeting Alcira and family at the tube station and we are going to Victoria park together. Nidhin, my nephew from New York who is here for a couple of weeks, tags along. We didn’t time ourselves properly and by the time we reach the venue the race was already underway. We are 20 minutes late. Story of my life, I think, nothing much has changed since my school days when it comes to participating in sporting events. The only difference is that now I’m confident that I can catch up with at least some of the slower race-goers, so that I am not the last person to reach the finish line.
‘Race for life’, a charity walk organised by Cancer research UK has similar walks arranged up and down the country on different dates and venues to raise money for their research work. I decided to join it this year and roped Alcira and Kanthi in. Kanthi pulled out at the last minute for personal reasons. Alcira came with her young family.
Nidhin, a keen athlete, decides to join me for the first 5 kilometres of the walk. He wants to do what a normal Londoner would do on a summer day like this. We walk along the path marked for the event. I cannot really say that I can see a sea of pink race-goers further ahead of us, it was more like a stream of pink. The temperature is in the low twenties and the horse chestnut trees lining the roads spread their branches into giant umbrellas shielding us from the heat. Stewards guarding posts along the way cheer us along. Nidhin leaves after the first round and I carry on to complete the 10k.
Time on my own gives me time to reflect. I haven’t actually done any preparation, thought about the race or actively asked around for sponsorship for the walk. Others have and I can see it on the photos and messages printed on their T-shirts. Most people are doing it for someone close to them. I am doing it for cancer research as a whole. I should also be doing this for Valsala Chechi, the only close family member to die from the illness late last year. It is the least I can do and I dedicate my walk to my cousin and remember her as I complete my walk.
Koge asked me the other day whether I was practicing to which I confidently said that I didn’t need to prepare as I knew I could easily do it. My timing is a bit out but not too far out. An hour and 35 minutes to complete 6.2 miles is fine I think. Alcira, Aruna and children finish their 5k before I reach the end. I think the little ones did a good job completing the course. We are all ever so grateful to all those who contributed and sponsored us.
As for Nidhin, he joined his friend’s sister and walked for another 5k with the Pride parade to offer his support, thus completing the day as a Londoner rather than as a tourist. For us the afternoon ended with a surprise flypast by the Red Arrows. They were booked for Wimbledon but on their way home they did an extra bit to show their solidarity for the LGBTQ community at Pride and I was too slow to get my camera out.