In exactly eleven days I will join thousands of other people for the AFSP Overnight Walk in Washington, DC. We will walk 16-18 miles through the night. The walk starts at 8:00 pm after an opening ceremony and continues until the early hours. It is not a race. No times are kept and no one keeps up with who walks each mile, because it doesn’t matter. We are walking to bring suicide awareness and prevention out of the darkness and into the light. This will be my third walk and I am so excited! I started planning this walk as I was flying home last year from the walk in NYC.
This year our team has increased and I get to walk with so many new people. Although there are no words to describe the experience, there are a few tips I have learned the last two years I want to pass to those who will walk for the first time.
- Make sure to bring a backpack, or my preference a fanny pack. Yes you read that right, a fanny pack! There won’t be any cups for water on the course, so you need to bring a water bottle with you. My fanny pack (thank you Amazon) comes with a place to hold my water bottle. I prefer the fanny pack because all my stuff is accessible right in front of me. No need to take a backpack off to find my chapstick… all I have to do is unzip, apply, and keep going. Besides… I heard fanny packs are back in style!
- What to put in your awesome fanny pack you ask? Tissues, chapstick, water bottle, cell phone, and portable cell phone charger…. This is not necessary, but your phone might die with so many selfies and photos so I find it useful. The one I have also has a flashlight on it 🙂
- Socks, yes we need to talk about socks because they are a huge key to not having blisters. My preferred sock method is to wear a thin synthetic pair and then a thick cushiony sock over. Even when it rained last year, I didn’t get blisters. The idea is the thin sock sticks to your feet and rubs against the thicker sock. Also as we discuss socks, it is smart to bring a second pair. Changing your socks at the midnight meal makes your feet so happy at a time when they are really tired (around mile 10).
- Prepare for rain… and if it rains, it will not be the end of the world. Last year it rained for the first two miles! I utilized a rain jacket I had planned to leave with my sister (cheering squad… team Y’all we will have a number of people cheering. They are happy to carry our extra things).
- It might get cool so bring a long sleeve shirt. You can either place it in your fanny pack (or backpack if you aren’t a cool kid) or give it to your cheering squad, but you might end up wanting long sleeves at some point. I utilized this my first year, but not my second. Having options is a good thing!
- Snacks? You don’t need them. AFSP does a remarkable job of making sure you have plenty of water, gatorade, and snacks throughout the evening.
- Don’t forget to wear your decorated AFSP overnight shirt or a shirt you have made for the evening. One of my favorite parts of the night is reading everyone’s shirt and seeing the remarkable individuals who inspire them to walk.
- Make sure to bring you luminary, but if for some reason you forget, don’t panic, you can make one before the opening ceremony. You will be able to take your luminary home after the walk.
- Most of all come ready for one of the most remarkable experiences. Be ready to be inspired, to cry, to laugh, and to heal. This is one of my favorite things and I am beyond excited to share it with many others.
If you are not walking (or cheering) this year, please know you can still participate by donating to AFSP: https://www.theovernight.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=20718. Any amount is appreciated and is used to save lives.