Slideshow: Grove House Midnight Walk 2009
HUNDREDS of walkers, including men dressed as women, took to the streets of the city on Saturday night to take part in the annual Grove House Midnight Walk. The earlier storms had cleared by the time the walkers, who numbered around a thousand in total, s
HUNDREDS of walkers, including men dressed as women, took to the streets of the city on Saturday night to take part in the annual Grove House Midnight Walk.
The earlier storms had cleared by the time the walkers, who numbered around a thousand in total, set off from Verulamium Park on the 10-mile walk to raise funds for the St Albans day hospice.
Up to 40 people signed up to take part on the night - including one woman whose night shift had been cancelled - and the estimated 50 to 100 men who took part all got into the spirit of the occasion and dressed as women.
One, wearing a fetching green dress, walked as far as Marshalswick in kitten heels before completing the walk in a sensible pair of women's sandals. Another man completed the whole route in heels.
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Praise was heaped on St Albans firefighters who stood outside for hours greeting walkers as they passed through and providing them with refreshments.
A spokesperson for the walk explained that they had asked the firefighters if they could use the fire station just as a stop-off point and they had volunteered to provide refreshments.
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She said: "They were out there until 2.30pm after a really busy night with flooding and a car crash. They were absolutely brilliant and we couldn't have asked for more support."
The earlier thunderstorm proved to be a blessing because the weather was less humid and nearly everyone managed the whole 10 miles.
The first walker completed the circuit in one and a half hours and the last one came in just before dawn broke. Among those who took part was a woman who did the whole walk on crutches, three schoolgirls who held hands all the way and a 12-year-old who walked the entire route with her mother.
Also walking with a team of friends was TV newsreader Martine Croxall who, on Thursday night, was the overnight anchor on BBC News when the Michael Jackson story broke and co-presented with BBC World News as events in Los Angeles unfolded.
Early estimates suggest that the walk will raise its target of �100,000 but the organisers believe some late sponsorship was lost because upgrading of the justgiving website last week made it inaccessible to some. It is now up and running normally and people can pledge money again.
The spokesperson said the walk had been an amazing sight and added: "It was bigger and better than in previous years."
Pre-registration has already started for next year's Midnight Walk which is on June 26, 2010.