years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
Not our longest, but certainly one of our most enjoyable, fund raising walks, Moon Bear Marathon Number 6 was held in Canberra on May Day 2011.
This time we decided on an easily accessible walk with a maximum distance of 29.5km organized so that participants could join us for as short or long a distance as they could handle.
Organisation of this one was plagued by the difficulty of having to negotiate with three government entities but, after a very slow start, various public servants responded beautifully and we had permission to go – but only two weeks before the start. Such is the difficulty of just having up to 50 people walking on cycle paths in the national capital!
Be that as it may the day finally dawned – in fact it didn’t. It climbed out of the fog at Lake Burley Griffin – the lake in the middle of Canberra around which we were to walk. As usual not all of those who had promised to come did but we ended up with a variously attired tribe of about 25 ready to face the challenge. Most noticeable was the variety of headgear – but really nothing to come anywhere near some of the creations of very disturbed minds seen at the recent royal wedding. Included in the group were five survivors from Marathon Mark 1 and five who had visited the Chengdu sanctuary. The bears will be pleased to know that their brother beasts, the hounds, were well represented with nine frisky canines ready to go to help out their mates.
Away we went with most minds clearly focused on cash for the bears – well not really. There was talk of morning tea at the 11km mark and as the capabilities of the pastry chefs in the road crew were very well known not much else was on the minds of the walkers.
The more ravenous took off quite quickly (they really should have had breakfast) and this, combined with a few latecomers and those more suited to leisurely pedestrianism, meant that we had a group 1km long after only 5km. However, no flogging of the slower walkers was required as natural attrition and quite sensible decisions to walk short distances allowed us all to be together for morning tea.
I must say that the backmarkers, yours truly and a certain superintendent of police (not the only police presence in the group), were somewhat concerned that morning tea might be well and truly demolished by the time we arrived. We should not have been concerned. Our road crew had either catered for 600 or done the loaves and fishes thing and there remained an extensive assortment of cakes, slices, muffins and bickies for our perusal. We were not backward in our sampling of the goodies!
The walkers (two and four legged) who made up Moon Bear Marathon 6
The day was one of those perfect Canberra autumn days, sunny and clear, with trees and fallen leaves of various colours providing a beautiful backdrop to our endeavours. The walkers amazed sedentary onlookers as they rapidly passed by many of our national institutions – the National Library, Government House, the National Museum and the War Memorial.
You can’t say much more about a bunch of people just walking about but you can make some unkind remarks about a wonderful road crew which admitted to losing track of the walkers at one stage. Just how hard is it when the roads pretty much follow the bike paths? Must have been fatigue? It’s OK, they managed to recover by having a little sleep at the lunch break. This was held opposite the National Carillion which worse luck, was in operation. Must have been practice time!
Anyway we continued on. Unknown to us, and perhaps understandably as the road system became more distant from the walking path, the road crew having woken up and after a bit of (another) chat decided to drive secretly to the finish, five minutes away by road. (The walkers had another 10km to go). Once there they would have a bit more of a sleep, another chat and a further muffin, slice, biscuit or three and appear just in time to welcome the exhausted, famished, injured and blister afflicted walkers as they hit the finish line.
A short celebration followed the arrival of the last walkers a number of whom put in quite an effort over the last few kilometers. In addition to a prolonged episode of well earned self congratulation, if not adulation, a draw for prizes donated by two of our sponsors was conducted. Running Bare had provided fantastic gym bags full of goodies and Koltz Wines, makers of the very limited edition "The Bear Essential Red” provided a number of much sought after bottles, which had been cunningly hidden from the road crew . Our barrel girl was a four year old fairy who, in various strollers and this time at times on a bike, had participated in three of the previous Moon Bear Marathons.
Our result – a big success which will become an annual event, $5,307 for the bears and a new world record – the only walking event during which the majority of the participants managed to put on weight!