Survivors inspire breast cancer walkers
At mile 48 of the Avon Breast Cancer Walk, Lianne Pyle watched as a stream of walkers were carried off the course. With badly blistered feet and a heat index of close to 130 degrees, Pyle resisted the urge to join them.
“It reminded me of MASH,” Pyle said as she described the second day of her 60-mile, three day walk from Fort Collins to Boulder.
As other walkers dropped out or were hydrated with IVs, Pyle said she was thinking of Colleen James, the breast cancer survivor who inspired her to sign up for the race a few months earlier.
“Personally, I just wanted to finish something I had started for somebody,” Pyle said.
Pyle was one of six area women who walked over the Aug. 3 weekend as part of an Avon-sponsored fund-raising event for breast cancer.
Other area participants in Colorado’s fist Avon three-day walk were Kris Pratt, Sandy Pokay, Dawn Lochridge, Holly Rogers and Susan Lord.
More than 2,800 people raised at least $1,900 each for the walk that averaged 20 miles a day and had participants sleeping in tents set up at schools along the way.
The walk was one of nine, three-day walks throughout the United States sponsored by Avon.
The first day of the walk began at Fort Collins’ Colorado State University and stopped after 18 miles at Loveland’s high school.
With blisters breaking through and roadside heat rising to 130 degrees, the second day of the walk was the most difficult part of the journey, Pyle and Lochridge said. The second day wound walkers through almost 23 miles of farmland to Longmont’s junior high school.
The final leg of the walk was 18 miles to Boulder and ended at the University of Colorado’s football stadium.
“Other than giving birth, it was the greatest physical accomplishment I have ever had,” Lochridge said of the weekend.
Many of the area women who walked had never competed in more than a 10K race. Pokay, like Pyle, was drawn to the event because of those she knows with breast cancer.
“It has effected my life. My two sisters had breast cancers,” Pyle said. “I felt like it was a way that I could help.”
To begin training, Pokay, Pratt, Lochridge and Rogers began walking together in March. Their training included walking five to six miles on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and doing longer walks on weekends.
After training on hills around Steamboat Springs, Pokay said, the four women were well prepared for the walk’s inclines.
Sponsors for the race came from corporate and individual donations. Pyle, who mainly collected from individuals, said she was surprised by the outpouring of money.
The money raised will be used to assist breast cancer patients who can’t afford treatment or for women unable to pay for mammograms, Pyle said.
Although after the first week of the walk Pyle said she cringed at the thought of doing another 60-mile walk again, she now plans to participate again.
“It was the hardest thing I have ever done, and the best thing,” she said.
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