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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 February, 2004, 18:04 GMT
Paris or bust for powerwalkers
By Emma Carson
BBC News Online, East Midlands

Beth Graham and Reggie Pugh
Beth and Reggie model their art themed bras
A group of East Midlands women are to powerwalk a marathon in Paris - wearing decorated "costume" bras.

They will be raising money and awareness for the health charity Walk the Walk.

Most of the women have already walked in the Playtex Moonwalk, a 26-mile event in London.

Led by Moonwalk founder, Leicester-born Nina Barough, they will stride across the French capital in leggings and decorated bras.

Themed bras

Her friend, Reggie Pugh, one of a group of walkers from West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, has been involved with Walk the Walk since it began in 1996.

She said: "When we were first talking about doing a marathon I'd never done any form of exercise in my life.

"There was no way I was going to run a marathon because I couldn't run to save my life - but I did see the value of being fit.

Beth Graham
Beth Graham says drivers honk their horns when they see them
"And power-walking - certainly in a bra - is the only option. You would not want to run - there wouldn't be a bra there afterwards."

The idea of striding along at top speed showing off your bra would daunt many women - but the West Bridgford group are used to it.

Beth Graham, another member, said: "You do get the odd horn beep when you're training.

"But over the winter months it's been very much training at night time in the evenings when it's dark, you're not down to bra level but definitely down to T-shirt level."

Several marathons

Reggie said: "They're decorated, and people comment more about the decorated bra than the actual boobs in the bra."

The group choose a theme for their bra design for the London Moonwalk - for example one year it was art, another year it was food.

Moulin Rouge will be the subject of the Paris costumes.

Having walked several marathons, the group are now pushing themselves to cover the Paris course in under five hrs 40 mins, averaging a walking speed of 5mph.

Founder Nina Barough said: "I decided in November that I'd like to do a marathon just for myself, and I invited people to join me who could do the same pace."

Holistic approach

But she has never been a fan of actually running the distance.

"I know lots of people who run marathons and their training is dogged by injuries.

"For me power-walking is challenging and has different body dynamics."

In 1997, Nina, who was 41 at the time, discovered she herself had breast cancer.

"I had the cancer for three years before I knew - the sooner you detect it the better your chance of healing."

She is now restored to full health, but wants to encourage people who are well to become more aware of their bodies.

The money the powerwalkers raise from the Paris Marathon will be granted by Walk the Walk to Breakthrough Breast Cancer and the Bristol Cancer Help Centre, which offers patients a holistic approach to treatment of the disease.

The race will take place on Sunday 4 April.

The Playtex Moonwalk 2004, organised by Walk the Walk, takes place in London on 15 May.

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