Week 47: The Balham 1/2 Hearted

Sunday 20th November

The inaugural Balham 1/2 Hearted was conceived 10 months previously in a bet between father, daughter and son-in-law on the impossibility of them completing a 1/2 marathon. The stakes were high: £1,000 for The Grand Appeal. The problem for Tom and Vicky is from then on the inevitability of completing a run with me is now non-negotiable. The img_5921date was set and our group of 3 quickly became 5 with the addition of brothers of Tom, Charlie and Henry. Then 6 with Jonny Edwards, then 7 & 8 with George and Allan. Within the group there was only 1 person who had run over 10km before today. Tom titled his planned route The Balham 1/2 Hearted but this day goes down as the most heartfelt weekend of the year. I’m blown away by the response of friends coming out to support each other and my cause with such generosity of energy and spirit. Storm Angus threatened to make Sunday morning a complete washout but the squad was undeterred. The path took us around 3 parks in South London, looping around each and linking to the next. img_5965The promise of a roast lunch in Balham kept everyone hungry for the finish line and we just kept moving towards it. Slowly but surely and without stopping we made it to the end. An incredible achievement. This group managed to stimulate a generous financial response from their social network and I’m delighted to say that by the end of the run my just giving account was £841 better off…. And then there was the bet to settle. Mike and Carol, Vicky and George’s parent came to join us at the pub for Sunday lunch and transferred £1000 to img_5923The Grand Appeal. Wow! It was heartwarming to see the happiness they derived from such generosity and pride they had in their family completing such a fantastic achievement. Sunday lunch shared with friends still sweaty and cramping from the morning’s efforts was such a lovely way to finish. This team accumulated £1841 in fundraising (£2301 including gift aid) and rocketed my total through the targets I’d set myself for the year and over £10,000.

I’ve been blown away throughout the year by how people rally around a worthy cause and are willing to go to extreme efforts to show their support. To capture the imagination of their social network the challenge has to be scary enough to evoke a reaction. I derive tremendous enjoyment in taking people on a journey with me to have a go at something that they wouldn’t otherwise dream of doing. Not only that but being with them when they complete it and seeing the pride and excitement in finishing and sharing it with their friends and family.

Thank you all for coming out to run. Thank you for making such an incredible fundraising effort and thank you Mike and Carol for treating your son-in-law with such wreckless bribery!

Week 51: For Katie

Tuesday 20th December

This one is for my wife. In week 50 I did two half-marathons so I asked my wife to decide if I could use one of those as my week 51 run. screenshot-2017-01-10-22-06-39If she’d have let me off the hook I’d have thought less of her but I knew she’d say no… She knew that I knew that she would say no. And so today was an extra one for Katie and for week 51 she came with me. Judge, jury and now executioner.  img_4342She pushed, pulled and cajouled me into running myself into the ground. There was no sympathy. You chose to do this, don’t complain about it has been a common sentiment of our year. We set out on a cold, crisp afternoon in Yorkshire along the Beryl Burton Way from Knaresborough to Ripley. In my 20+ years living in Knaresborough I never knew this path existed. So many times this year I’ve delighted in finding paths, roads and views that I would never have otherwise seen. This was one of the best. The cycle path cut through the countryside and the sun illuminated the hills around us. I felt strong and ran as fast as I could from minute one, chasing a 1hr35ish kind of time. It was a direct out and back route from Knaresborough to Ripley.  We finished along the riverside in Knaresborough at 1hr41mins and I couldn’t have run any faster.
img_4344Once it’s done Katie offers no gushing or overreaction, just another one done. It’s not that she’s not supportive or proud but the response is conservative. I feel like she can see right through me and knows that a good chunk of this challenge is for me. These runs have been something that I’ve just had to do for myself. The motive is not entirely alturistic and I know that she knows. This girl has been my compass as I’ve yo-yo’d up and down throughout 2016. She constantly reminds me of the things that matter; contributing to our family and our family home. 2hrs of running a week and posting it on Facebook doesn’t make me a good father or husband. Laying on the sofa tired, sore and feeling sorry for myself after running is just unhelpful at best, self indulgent for sure. None of this she’s told me. It’s just what she makes me believe.

We’re  totally opposite, in fact we couldn’t be more different, but I respect her deeply and she makes me want to be a better father and a better husband. Today my best effort was dedicated to you XOX