Showing my daughter men can be feminists too, says male MoonWalker

Alain Leger is taking part in MoonWalk Scotland 2020 because he wants to show his nine-year-old daughter that “men can be feminists too”.

Alain Leger, from Cupar, Fife, with his daughter Julie, 9. Picture: Scott Louden

Leger, a procurement officer at the University of St Andrews in Fife, will be walking through the streets of Edinburgh on Saturday, 6 June, and into the night with thousands of women and a growing number of men to raise millions of pounds for cancer research and to make life better for people living with breast cancer.

The high-profile annual event will see walkers in decorated pink bras or T-shirts winding their way past some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, including Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill and St Giles’ Cathedral, cheered on by relatives, clubbers, party-goers and well-wishers.

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Many landmarks will be lit up in pink to celebrate the event.

This year’s theme is “music” while taking part in a 10k, half, full or double marathon.

This year’s walk is the 15th in Scotland, and joins other MoonWalks being held in London and Iceland.

MoonWalk Scotland, whose media partners are Scotland on Sunday, The Scotsman and the Edinburgh Evening News, has raised more than £21.8 million since 2006, while the entire UK-wide charity has raised over £133 million.

Leger said: “My daughter Julie needs to know that men can do this too. It’s a feminist thing. She needs to know that men can do this.

“Julie is quite proud of me and likes to cheer me on by sending me text messages like ‘go, daddy, go’ and ‘come on, you’re going to do it’ to keep going. My grandmother in France, who had breast cancer, is also supporting me.

“Men can get breast cancer too, so it affects everyone.

“I first took part in the MoonWalk in 2012 and have only missed one since. That was when a friend died in a mountaineering accident on Skye in 2013. To make up for it I did the Over the Moon Challenge, a double marathon distance at 52.4 miles which has to be completed in 14 hours the following year and dedicated it to my friend.”

Leger said his training regime kept him fit and had got rid of his back pain and had the added benefits of encountering wildlife in the countryside.

“I am very competitive with myself. I am aiming to beat my personal best of 5 hours and 30 seconds for the Full Moon Marathon distance.

“Without fail I get up at 4.15am every single Friday of the year to walk 11 miles to work – no matter what the weather throws at me. In the three months before the challenge I also walk back home in the evening. I live in the middle of nowhere and when I’m up walking in the silly hours of the morning I don’t see another person for hours.

“The wildlife is amazing – I come across foxes, deer, badgers and otters all on my route to work.”

Nina Barough, CBE, founder and chief executive of Walk the Walk, who first led a power walking marathon in New York in 1996 to raise money for breast cancer two months before being diagnosed with the disease herself, said: “I’m very keen on men taking part in the MoonWalk. Men taking part in the walk get their own T-shirt with a checked bra printed on it. I think it’s really important men have their own identity with this.

“Some men feel male breast cancer carries a lot of stigma. But our brothers, sons, and husbands can all be affected too. A lot of men had never met another man with breast cancer until we brought them together.

“At the beginning when I was starting out I didn’t even think about it. But then we had two men who were police dog handlers and a man who had five daughters and who had found out that his wife had breast cancer.

“I’d say we now get around 200-300 men taking part in Scotland and 1,000-1,500 in the London walk.”