All my life I’ve been a sport fanatic, watching my dad playing football when I was young. Him watching me when I was old enough to play myself. Watching sport on television with my dad on Sunday Grandstand, participating in sports day events and now I find myself watching my daughters at their sporting events gives me much enjoyment watching most sports either watching or participating myself. As time has gone by I’ve developed the running bug the challenge to run every Saturday at Sweatshops 4K fun run soon developed to a 10K, 10mile, half marathon and now a full marathon runner. In between photography and daily work routine the next challenge is always to sneak in my next training run in preparation and hope that I can obtain a London Marathon place and run yet another Marathon. All this training well… sends my wife mad. Although a keen football fan running is not top of her agenda so going out for a quick run together like some other running couples will not happen in our house? Although she participates in the Race For Life 5K run at Blackheath with our daughters I could never see her increasing this distance and time to a sub forty minute 10K race time any day soon.
So it did surprise me when she looked online, entered and became team leader encouraging neighbours and friends to participate in a 5K event which include obstacles and mud? … and then asked me to help her get fit with regular sit ups and trips to the local park to “run” a few laps in an attempt to boost fitness. Although I do question the running around the park which always seemed to include a mobile phone in hand whilst hunting for these Pokemon characters? I’m not a Pokemon fan (never was or will be) and anyone that talks to me about it gets in interested facial expression (So I don’t appear rude) but an internal mind question of what on earth is this person on about? So whilst out playing pokemon we could multitask and run two to three miles in relevant comfort and ease.
The training had been going well and while regular team meetings about items of clothing to wear and creating a JustGiving page between the #PinkLadies at the local public houses the day of this event was soon upon us. The pre-planned operation of meeting in a local car park and heading to Stratford, East London in a mini convoy left us plenty of time to park at Westfield and then walk what seemed an absolute age, past the Olympic Stadium (Hang on I thought the event took place around the stadium? to the start of this event. Race For Life are a charity who put on many events almost weekly at various venues around the UK. They’re women and girl only events from 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon, Muddy Runs and Hiking events. So regardless of your fitness they do an event that you could participate in and enjoy. All finishers are rewarded for their efforts with a goody bag and medal and it is stressed completing is more important than racing and being competitive. The emotion in the air is quite high, many messages written on the back of the person next to you running in memory of, running on behalf of, I have survived cancer etc etc is not only heart-warming but encouraging to see. In this day and age disease affecting our family and friends is heart breaking and with Cancer being one of the biggest battles we and doctors battle against. It will take regular events like these to raise money so that more in-depth research can funded so that one day a cure for cancer can be found, as reading this I’m sure you know a family member or friend who has been affected by this disease.
I could not possibly guess how many participants were here on this sunny Sunday along with each member of family and friends that came along also but this made the day even better. Their role to cheer and support everyone about to start this challenge. The sheer volume of entrants means the start has to be staggered in approximately 15 minute intervals starting from 10am and finishing approximately 13:30. Enough time for each pen to perform the pre-race warm up to the latest high energy chart music with a very enthusiastic MC full of energy? As a spectator there is a chance to watch members of your group set off but once started a quick glance of the time follows with an estimated time they will finish. Obviously this means that the remainder of the group then make a short walk to the finishing area to see people descend the final obstacle into a pool of muddy water before the short sprint/walk to the finish line. This was probably the worst part of the day. According to our team #PinkLadies they completed the course and obstacles en-route with ease but then had to stand and wait in a long queue just to complete the course. It was a little disappointing that standing in line for over one hour! Meant the queueing took longer than actually running/walking the previous 4.9 kilometres. Sounds impossible but this was very true. Even on social media after the event this was the one gripe many other people had with the day too. Some even chose not to do this obstacle which is a shame as it’s the main feature of the day.
I’m lead to believe … Just from this one event Race For Life could have raised in the region of £250,000. Amazing really but huge congratulations to the people who have raised this. The work involved behind just to organise these events must be a mammoth task but the if each event could raise this kind of money to research and find a cure for cancer then let’s all hope its soon to help our loved ones affected by cancer already. #TogetherStrong #BeatCancer