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Selfie and notes to self

Written by on Aug 19, 2015

There's less than a month left until Challenge Walk MS: Cape Cod begins. Time to get it in gear! And no shortage of gear needed!

My "selfie" and "notes to self":

  • Break in my new sneaks ASAP
  • schedule all my training walk routes
  • review the downloadable CW "Travel and Information Guide"
  • send pledge reminders
  • update progress on my personal CW page
  • send thank yous from my Participant Center
  • keep walking, rain or shine
  • update my Facebook page with progress
  • dig out the CW "change of clothes bag" and don't over-pack again — well, sort of
  • replenish my survival kit: blister kit, muscle rub, OTCs, bug repellent, shark repellent??, sunscreen, caffeine, and of course chocolate
  • send pledge reminders — again
  • check in on final team logistics
  • check my pledge totals online, at least hourly
  • schedule post walk spa session
  • begin sleep walking — if necessary
  • plead for pledges — if necessary

Daily reminder: breathe deeply but keep moving — no sweat!

Michelle Dickson selfie

Michelle Dickson selfie

See you at the start line!

Michelle has been a staff member for the Greater New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society since 2000. She currently serves as the Director of Public Policy Advocacy and works with volunteer activists and lawmakers in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. She most recently lead the chapter's delegation at the 22nd annual MS Public Policy Conference in Washington D.C.

Travel guide, packing tips, and Friday arrival

Written by on Sep 8, 2010

Every walker and crew member should have received in the mail this year's Travel & Information Guide. This document contains directions, schedules, packing lists, and safety tips for the MS Challenge Walk weekend. You can also find it online and in color for easy reference.

One of our bloggers has her own recommended packing list which includes all-weather gear. We're hoping that Hurricane Earl ruining our Labor Day weekend will mean beautiful weather the following — rain two weekends in a row just wouldn't be fair! But the MS Challenge Walk was held in a hurricane in 2008, and we got some rain in 2009 as well. So remember when packing to prepare for rain, just in case!

Once you're packed and ready to hit the Cape, what's next? Our schedule this year is a bit different from usual. You'll be driving to Kalmus Park Beach in Barnstable Town as always. From there, buses are running every hour on the hour 3–8 PM on Friday to take you to the Cape Cod Sea Camps in Brewster, where you're invited to join us for the Friday night pre-walk party. (This is in place of our annual social at the Cape Codder hotel.) On Saturday, you'll walk out and back to the camps, and on Sunday, you'll walk to the Wixon Middle School in South Dennis, where you'll enjoy a barbecue before being shuttled back to Hyannis for the finish line parade. After the closing ceremonies, you'll take one last bus a mile back to your car at Kalmus.

If you need to drive directly to the Cape Cod Sea Camps, limited parking is available, but you will then need to take a longer shuttle ride back to the Camps to collect your car on Sunday, which also results in a longer ride home afterward.

Any last-minute questions or concerns? Let us know, and we'll get you the info you need to make this weekend a success!

Ken joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2005, more than a decade after his mother was diagnosed. After walking for three years and 150 miles, he switched to the support crew and now rides his bicycle along the trail, providing whatever encouragement (and snacks!) he can to the 600 walkers. He is also an alumnus of the event's steering committee and is this site's webmaster.

My favorite packing tip

Written by on Aug 20, 2010

I received my event materials packet in the mail the other day and started to get really excited. I can't believe the Challenge Walk is right around the corner! It's time to start planning the logistics: Who's driving? Who's bringing what? What am I going to wear?!

It's time to start packing. My favorite tip is to pack two-gallon Ziploc bags. When the MS Challenge Walk staff roll through the camps with their bullhorn at 5:30 AM, it's easy to roll out of bed and grab a bag. In the bag I have an entire outfit, ready to go! No thinking, searching, or unpacking required. I also make sure my change-of-clothes bag is refreshed and packed each night before bed (a new addition to my lunch bag last year was sandals to help air my feet out during lunch). Again, no thinking required — just grab it and go!

So thank you to whomever came up with that genius idea of using the large baggies. It really does help. The morning can be hectic and groggy, and this tip really helps to ensure a flawless transition from bed to trail!

Brooke is a member of the Blister Buddies and walks with her mom, Patty Thorpe. Brooke lives in southern New Hampshire with her husband and three daughters and is looking forward to her sixth Challenge Walk in 2010.

What to bring

Written by on Aug 17, 2009

I have survived the Challenge Walk for five years now and am excited about participating in my sixth year. Over the years, I have learned through trial and error, talking with other walkers and crew, and the good old fashioned hard way which items are necessities and items that add fun and comfort to the experience. I have compiled a list of things I bring, but encourage you to talk with other walkers and crew as well, as each may have different advice.

2-3 pairs of shoes: All well broken in (but not broken down) before the Challenge Walk.

9+ pairs of socks: At least 2-3 per day, as well as maybe a pair for the cool evenings on the cape.

Head cover: The sun can be brutal, so bring a hat or bandanna to cover up your head.

Sunglasses: If you wear them regularly, bring them to the cape!

Sunscreen: Even in September, you can burn. Better to come prepared and covered up, especially for your nose, shoulders, ears and back of your neck.

Fanny pack: Mine is big enough for my blister kit and two water bottles, and I have plenty of room for other things, like sunglasses, cell phone, camera, chap stick, snacks, and it's still small enough that it doesn't hurt my back to carry it.

Two water bottles: Absolute must-haves. You will be much more comfortable and happy if they fit into your fanny pack. And one in each hand will keep you better balanced!

Crocks/flip-flops/sandals: Something for at night that is not your sneakers. Keep in mind your feet will swell, and they should be comfy for your hard working feet. Flip-flops are ideal for the shower.

Ziplock Bags: Makes packing easier. Put your outfits for each of the three days in their own bag. Pack a few extra to put dirty or wet clothes in. Bring one for your camera and wallet/information.

Newspaper: Should it rain, stuffing newspaper in your shoes at night helps to dry them out.

Sweatshirt and warm pants: It can get chilly at night, even under the big tent with 600+ friends.

Music: Plug your iPod or MP3 into small speakers to keep you, your team, or fellow walkers moving during those longer miles. (Note that earbud or headphone use is prohibited, as you need to be able to hear oncoming traffic!)

Layers: Weather on the Cape is unpredictable. Cool mornings and evenings and warm to hot mid-days have been the average the past few years. Except of course during Hurricane Hannah! Things like a long sleeve shirt or wind pants, especially those that say they will keep you warm in cool weather and dry in hot or wet weather are great. They also fold up small and can fit in your fanny pack until lunch where you can ditch it in your change of clothes bag.

Cooling gear: MSer or not, sometimes it's nice to have a cooling hat, vest, bandanna, or wrist wraps.

Rain gear: A rain poncho and two shower caps. A woman who is an Avon Breast Cancer Walk alumnae shared with me that if you take the shower cap, cut a small slit in the top so you can slide your socked foot in, then put your shoe on, and the elastic shower cap over your shoes, it keeps your feet dry in the rain (or hurricane).

Walking stick/trekking pole: If you train with it, bring it.

Pen and paper: You might want to keep in touch with people you meet or network with on the walk.

Flashlight: So you can see walking from the main tent back to your cabin at night.

Topical muscle rubs: Hopefully you won't need them, but my, oh my, do they feel good on tight, stiff muscles at 6 AM! Things like Bengay, Icy-Hot, and Biofreeze not only feel good, but the smell of them goes really well with the smell of bacon and eggs in the morning!

Other odds and ends suggested on the MS Challenge Walk page include toiletries, towels, pillow, sleeping bag, wind-breaker jacket, sleepwear, special prescription medications, anti-blister aids/blister kit, insect repellent, pillow, identification and insurance information, soap, deodorant, camera/film, petroleum jelly or body glide, and spending money. Remember your bags must be under 40 pounds. If you can't carry it because it's too heavy, don't ask the volunteers to.

You can find the full Fundraising and Training guide online.

Heather lives in Hampton, NH, and completed her first 50 miles in 2003 in honor of her great-grandmother who had MS. Ironically, she began having symptoms in 2004, and was finally diagnosed with MS in 2006. This will be her 6th walk, and her first as team captain of "All Smiles for 50 Miles". Heather recruited 7 friends to walk, and her mom to volunteer on the Crew. Heather is a pediatric physical therapist in NH.

Team-building at the NMSS warehouse

Written by on Jul 31, 2009

Believe it or not, the MS Challenge Walk is right around the corner. We are planning our packing schedule for the MS Challenge Walk as we have five trucks worth of event supplies, food, water, medical supplies to bring down to the Cape. As you can imagine, this is an enormous undertaking and we are looking for your help!

We are looking for volunteers who can come to our warehouse location to help in getting organized for this event. This is "fun work", not to mention a tremendous help to us. While the work is manual labor, it is not backbreaking by any means.

Do you have any free time during the weekdays of the weeks of August 24th or August 31st between 9 AM — 5 PM? If you do and would like to come to our Waltham MA warehouse location to help, please let us know. We can work around your schedule and have a variety of projects for Challenge Walk participants to help with. If you have a block of a few hours free, we could really use your help.

Please pass this message on to any family or friends that may be interested in being a part of this effort. It would be an invaluable help to us as we prepare for the MS Challenge Walk.

Todd, formerly the Director of Development for the Greater New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is now the the Regional Director of FAS Capital Giving at Harvard University. In addition to reading his blog posts, you can also find Todd on Twitter.