The event spans two days and over 2100 participants walked either 39.3 miles or 26 miles depending on their own personal wishes. The program began Friday night at the stunning Fess Parker Hotel on th beach in Santa Barbara with Event Eve. This evening is all about registration, finding old friends, making new ones, talking and of course, shopping! There are vendors there selling all kinds of fun things relating to the fight against breast cancer, most of whom donate a portion of their proceeds to the fight. They have bracelets, earrings, bumper stickers, pins, hats, scarves, water bottles, you name it, it’s there and it’s pink.
The next morning all the participants meet at the starting point which this year was on Cabrillo Blvd, right next to the water, just south of the pier. Treated to inspirational stories, great music and stretching excercises, the participants wait for the 7 a.m. start. As an experienced walker, I can tell you, you need to be in the front of the pack, or you can get bogged down and wait a long time before you actually move.
From there, we walked 26 miles around Santa Barbara and through Carpinteria, cheered on by volunteers as well as just plain old people lining the routes and giving us suppost (and candy) throughout the day. This day ended at the magnificent Polo Grouds in Carpinteria at the Wellness Village which offers, massages, stretching, yoga, and of course, SHOPPING again! Some walkers camped that night in the Wellness Village, others caught shuttles back to their hotels, either Bacara or Fess Parker for the night.
We had all our families there, so we all shared a big dinner, some wine, some laughs, and then it was off to bed to rise again at 5:30 to catch the shuttle to the Wellness Village. A hearty breakfast, a couple of knee tapings later, and we were off again at 7:30 for the final 13 miles. The walk wound through Carpinteria, where we found some charming neighborhoods that we never would have seen otherwise, ending in the Sea Lion preserve on the bluffs in Carpinteria. What a treat that was. We finished the walk at Carpinteria State Beach, greeted by cheering families and walkers that had arrived before us. A truly inspirational day!
There was a great closing ceremony guest, Fergie, but since we finished by 1:30 we were too tired to hang around, and after many tears and hugs, we all got in our cars and went out separate ways.
If you are interested in the this walk in the future, just go to www.avonwalk.org for more information. I will be doing it again next year as my daughter will be 16 and eligible for the first time. I