Matthew Munson: Time to Shine

Matthew previously took part in the Shine marathon in 2018

There are times when you have to do something that pushes you beyond your normal limits. That’s what I’ve been telling myself for the past couple of months and I’m almost starting to believe it. Give me another few days and I’ll see how I feel then.

I’m something of a marathon fanatic – I’ve done 13 so far, although none were running marathons; I only do walking. Anything faster and I would collapse in a heap as soon as I turned the first corner; a good pal of mine is a runner, and she tells me it’s a lot of fun. I choose to believe her, although I once jogged to catch a bus and it was the most horrific five seconds of my life, so I suspect she might be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

But I do enjoy the walking marathons I’ve done. They’ve primarily been organised by either the Moonwalk or Shine, both raising money for different forms of cancer research, but I’ve also helped organise a few as well – two for TG PALS, a charity I’m a trustee for, as well as a couple of others.

This coming Saturday, I’m doing my latest marathon, for Shine, and I’m both excited and slightly nervous about it. Excited because I genuinely love doing these marathons, no matter what I say at mile 24 and still have 2.2 miles to go (and I do whinge on the night, just ignore me), and nervous because I’m walking alone this time.

Matthew and friend Di

Well, not alone alone – there are 16,000 walkers doing either a full or half marathon on Saturday night – but in all previous marathons, I’ve completed them with my pal Di. We paced each other during the innumerable practice walks as well as the marathons themselves – and drove each other on when one of us hit “the wall”; something I’ve hit twice, and it’s truly an unpleasant sensation.

This year, however, I’m walking solo; Di has retired from marathon walking (and I’ll be taking a hiatus after this one for a few years). I could have stopped already, but I wanted to do one marathon by myself; I had a determination to complete that particular challenge. I can’t fully explain why, but I’m certainly stubborn and I rather suspect that’s the primary reason; I wanted to prove that I was able to do it.

Matthew is getting ready to complete another marathon

So, for the past three months or so, I’ve been walking at every available opportunity – I’ve even set out at 4 in the morning yesterday to do a six hour walk, which shows how obsessive I can get. But it helps, because it means I’ll feel more confident on the day (or, rather, night) itself. It’ll feel odd, completing it by myself, but I’m still childishly excited – believe me when I say there’s a certain buzz you get from doing something like this; the shared sense of achievement, of adventure, and camaraderie. It’s truly a brilliant atmosphere, even when you’re tired and aching at 3 o’clock in the morning and desperate for a loo stop … and then some sleep.

I’m meeting some friends in London afterwards (to be more precise, after a few hours sleep and a long soak in the bath), which will be a good reward – and, of course, I’ll have a medal to show off as well. Here’s to Saturday!

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