"Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women in the U.S. This year, over 42,000 women are expected to die of the disease. There is no way to prevent breast cancer, but if it is detected early, it can often be treated successfully. There is no way to cure breast cancer, but medical research is closer to that goal than ever before."
"Imagine knowing that because of you, tens of thousands of women will be reached with life-saving early detection services and researchers may soon find a cure."
This is what draws thousands to participate in this spectacular three day event. Walk 60 miles in three days to help find a cure.
Read below about one walker's experience:
My 3-Day Walk Experience
By Sue Burton Vancouver, WA
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 1999. She had a lumpectomy, and then a few weeks later a mastectomy of her right breast. The end of October 1999, a month after she started chemotherapy, she started to lose her hair. One of my sisters and I decided to shave our heads so she wouldn't go through being bald alone.
Fast forward two months later, when I decided I had to start losing weight and start exercising daily. I had started a walking program January 1st, 2000. In February I found out about the Avon 3-day Breast Cancer walk when I read an article in Walking magazine. I also recalled reading something similar in Shape magazine and went through my back issues to find it. I copied the 2 articles for my sisters, mom, and mother-in-law to read. Right away I new this was an event I wanted to be a part of, and I was dragging my family along for the ride. My mom was of course, interested from the start. We were all planning on walking. My mother in law decided she would stay home and help take care of my two girls. And so the training began.
I was already walking 3-4 miles a day, 5 days a week. The first weekend after deciding, I walked 6 miles to see how it was. It was fine and I repeated the next day. I started from the beginning doing 2 longer walks back to back to build up my mileage. I did 6 & 8 miles for 2 weeks then upped it to 8 & 10 miles and so on. My mom was having problems with her feet, and went to a podiatrist that told her she wouldn't be able to walk 60 miles, and that he really couldn't be much help, so we changed her registration to a crew member.
Every Sunday morning, I would go pick up my sister Melissa and we would go to mom's house to wake up Christina, who was not really a morning person (I'll leave it at that). Christy was a runner and training for the Hood to Coast. She was in the best shape of the three of us, but because walking uses different muscles, she would have more feet problems than Melissa and I. In April, we decided to see how our training was going. Melissa walked the Rose city half marathon, while Christy ran it. The end of April we participated in the annual Discovery Walks, put on by the Volkswalkers in Vancouver, Wa (where we live). I walked with mom on a 10K on Saturday, and then on Sunday the three sisters decided to walk a 32K. It seemed like forever! It was long, and we got a better sense of how the 3-day would go, but the scenery was beautiful. We all finished a little sore and knew we would have to train a little more before then and July. We kept up our training; Melissa started walking on Saturdays with me in June. On Sundays, we kept our mileage at around 12 miles and added some killer hills for fun.
By the time the 3-day rolled around we were very excited. We left our families and journeyed down to San Jose, where the start was going to be. We arrived the night of day 1, the day before day zero, or registration day. We got up early so we could get registered. There were so many people, and it was starting to get hot. The Avon sun block was starting to circulate as we waited in line for registration to start. After getting our registration cards, we headed to watch the safety video. Then we stood in line to turn in our last pledges. Then it was off to turn in last minute forms that needed to be signed again, and get our tent assignments. It was an eventful day, full of excitement! That night after eating dinner with my sister-in-law, Jen, we were too excited to go to sleep. We had to be up at the crack of dawn to catch a cab back down to opening ceremonies. Christy wanted her hair twisted into knots, so we spent a long time doing that, and then we went to bed. Melissa jumped into bed with Christy and I and we giggled for a very long time, especially since mom would try to threaten to ground us if we didn't be quiet! (Just kidding!)
Day one came. We all got up, got ready and arrived at the field where we would leave from. Thousands of other walkers, all wearing identical shirts, walking around like zombies getting breakfast and coffee trying to wake up and get psyched. Opening ceremonies began; we did stretching, and then were herded like cattle to the start line. As we passed through the start, people cheered and honked as we stepped onto the streets. We walked all day it seemed! We were so used to start walking at 5:30 am that 9:30 seemed a little late, especially since it was the end of July in San Jose, but it didn't matter. We slathered on the sunscreen, drank water and Gatorade and walked. There were grab & gos and pit stops all along the way. There were signs everywhere directing you where to go, and there were the endless lines of portapotties at every stop we made, lining the entire route. When we made it into camp, we found our gear and set up camp. I couldn't wait to take a shower, Melissa wanted to sleep, and Christy was gone to the medical tent to take care of blisters. I went to chiropractic tent to take care of the stress that had settled in the back of my neck. After an adjustment, I was sent to sign up for a massage, to get rid of some of the tension. Then it was time for dinner! Dinners were good; I remember we had spaghetti one night with salad and french bread. There was evening entertainment, but we were so tired the first night we could barely stay awake, we retired early.
Day 2 was primarily all up hill for us. We got an early start and made our way through the roads. Our hill training paid off as we passed people going up hill the first part of the day. We ended up at lunch by about 10:30am. The biggest and longest hill was right after lunch. It was very steep and about a mile long, but the view from the top was worth it. That day we walked through a spring reservoir trail that was very pretty and serene. We finished up the day with a little more stiffness and pain, Christy still having blister problems, Melissa had a leg problem, and I had a side shin problem that was remedied by the physical therapist massaging out the area (very hard I might add) to get all the knots out, and she showed me stretches to do every 2 hour along with icing it. It worked like magic and was gone in about 3-4 hours. A thick fog rolled in about 3 pm and stayed with us all night. It got windy at times too, but with all the positive energy in the air, it didn't really bother us. That night there was a talent show and dancing. We had fun as we sat back and watched our mom shakin' her, well you know what I mean. We never laughed so hard. Christy's tent-mate had gotten dehydrated on day one and her stuff had disappeared in the middle of the first night so we decided to put all our stuff in her tent, and all sleep in the same tent the second night. It was cozy, as the wind blew the fog around all night.
The next morning, we had to get a police escort out of camp and everyone had to pack up and leave early, because of the thick fog. The visibility was thin. By mid morning it all burned off as we headed toward the ocean-line. We walked along the beach and were stunned by its beauty. At lunch, we knew we didn't have much farther, but we were so worn out. There were lots of people with out their socks, tending to blisters, aches and pains. I changed my socks each day after lunch, hoping I would not have many problems, but I had started to develop a lone blister. As we continued to walk, we could see the bay and knew we were getting close. At every grab & go or pit stop we would ask how much farther. With about a mile left, my developing blister popped and I had to glob vaseline on it before we continued.
As we approached the end, we saw thousands of people lining the street and heard the cheers of them and fellow walkers that had already finished. As we entered the holding area, there was a path, lined by everyone who finished, with their long sleeve finisher's shirts on, even though it was very hot, and all cheering us on. Our mom came running to us as tears streamed down her face, so proud that her girls were finishing their 60-mile journey. We had done it. We had walked 60 miles in 3 days for a cause very dear to us, breasts cancer. As others finished we joined in cheering them on. After all were in, we headed for our victory walk to closing ceremonies, and then to meet our shuttle to the airport. Even before we had recovered, we were discussing our plans for the next year's 3-day that would be closer to home in Seattle, WA. We were so tired and sore, but had the time of our lives doing it and couldn't wait to do it all over again.
Training for 60 Miles - How do you train to walk 60 miles
Sue Burton's Site - 7 Breast.org
Sue Question and Answer Page
Lisa's 3 Day Web Site
Deb's Walk for Life Site
Now that you have read what it's like, see what it's like. This site has tons of fun pictures.
Avon 2 Day Walk - Avon is no longer doing the 3 Day walk, but they now have 2 day walks. See this web site for official information on the NEW Avon 2 Day walks.
The NEW 3 Day Walk - The Susan G. Komen Foundation has new 3 Day walks.