It all began on the evening of the 6th March 2011. Having just run the Silverstone Half Marathon that day, I was happily relaxing at home enjoying the congratulatory text messages, phone calls and Facebook posts from friends and family after what had been a pretty run. Now there is always the thought of what challenge is next, but I certainly wasn’t planning anything. That was until one Mr Ian Barnett (of the band Big Fish Little Fish who work with Arise at various events) started texting with a plan… His idea was that we could enter another race, probably half marathon in length, only he would get a team together, as would I. We would then race each other – all raising money for Arise while having our own competition to boot. Before I knew it an agreement was made and we were on. A race was found, the London Kilomathon a 26 kilometre, 16 mile race (23rd October 2011), teams began to be enlisted and publicity drafted. There were however a couple of hiccups were in store for us:
- The race was cancelled (the group organising it (who organise races in various countries) hadn’t apparently got permission when they started publicising it).
- Ian, however willing he was to put one foot in front of the other, having not run competitively for about 30 years, injured himself during training and realised it wasn’t go to be.
Not deterred by this – I set about finding a new challenge, a new race and more willing volunteers to join in the madness. Before long I came across the Brentwood Running Festival (29th and 30th October 2011). On the Sunday there was a half and a full marathon race. Sadly some of my original team weren’t able to make the date change, but I did secure Pat Mammone (a good friend and my sister’s boyfriend) and Keith Tarring (a Baptist minister who I’ve got to know mainly though BA having worked amongst his children). Pat and Keith signed up for the half marathon, I the full marathon and the inaugural Arise Running Team was ready to run once more!
As we gathered at Weald Park in Brentwood on the morning of the 30th October, I think it began to dawn on all of us what we’d taken on. The signs clearly labelling the event as a ‘Go Beyond Ultra’ event, with the tagline of ‘Human Endurance Defined’, the terrain was hilly, off road and slightly damp, but we weren’t put off and along with a couple of hundred we crossed the START line at 10am!
Pat and Keith both headed off really well, I was never going to try and keep pace with them, aware that I had twice as far to go. The course was a 2.1(ish)mile loop, that took in hills, the woods, more hills, more hills and maybe another hill. For the half marathon it was 6 laps, for the full it was 12. As you completed a lap you were giving a hair band to show you’d done the lap.
Keith stormed home in just 1.42.46 coming 17th out of 150 finishers. He was then followed not far behind by Pat who finished in 1.54.24 coming 48th. Both deserve to be really proud of their times, the course was anything but average and just to get round was a real achievement. Didn’t I know it as I passed the half way mark, cheered on by the team, but well aware that I still had a way to go…!
Having done the bulk of my training on my own, I listen to music most of the time, yesterday being no different, I was spurred on by a variety of tunes, an eclectic mix shall we say with something for everyone. However as I completed my 7 (or 8 maybe, I forget) lap I passed the headphones and iPod to Emily (my sisters who did a stunning job cheery us all on throughout the day) to enjoy (wrong choice of word I’m aware) the last few laps taking in the sounds of park and aware that the fresh recruits were due to cheer on any time soon.
Not being disappointed, Emma, Ewan and Evie arrived at about 2pm and gave me a real boost each time I passed them. Ewan was a bit unsure as I to why I didn’t stop the first time he saw me complete a lap, not quite getting the whole lap concept of the race. With the light starting to dim, I picked up my 11th band, and headed off for the final lap! Keith and his family had also stayed to cheer me on which was superb and as I hit the final hill with a handshake form the marshal who’d watched me pass numerous times I headed for the finish line.
As anyone who’s run such a race will know, there’s nothing quite like that moment when then the finish line comes in to view. You somehow manage to pick up the pace, I raised my arms, let out what I think was tired grunt/cheer sound and crossed the line in 5 hours, 9 minutes and 32 seconds, finishing 75th out of the 89 who finished the full marathon.
Thanks to Pat and Keith for joining me in this madcap adventure, and also Jonny English who ran the Great Edinburgh Run raising money for Arise also. We have raised over £1500 towards the production, publicity and launch of ‘The Great Hot Cross Bun Hunt’ and thus every step, every ache and pain was and is definitely worth it – here’s to next Easter and children all over the country and beyond discovering the real meaning of Easter and the difference knowing Jesus makes!