‘Hi there. My name is Oliver and on Sunday 25 October, I took part in the Great South Run in Portsmouth, which is a 10 mile race and the third largest in the UK after the London Marathon and the Great North Run in Newcastle. I ran the same race last year, but had a terrible time and ended up with pneumonia a month or so after the race!
A year on and it was time to have another go, but whilst my health had enjoyed an about turn, one of my dearest friends had gone in the other direction; after what must have been a horrible period of decline in his health, Ed was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the autumn of 2014.
Ed’s had a tough time, no doubt. Some of the stories he has shared with me have been difficult to listen to, let alone imagine going through and yet he remains incredibly level headed and coping with it all so well. Since starting medication in March, he has seen a steady increase in his health from a really bad place to one where he is doing much better. We wait to see where he will get to in the fullness of time.
It seemed obvious to me that here was a great opportunity to combine my drive for a second attempt at the Great South Run whilst showing support for one of my very oldest and closest friends through fund raising for MS-UK. I asked Ed whether he would approve of my idea as I’m not sure everyone wants sweeping gestures done in their name, but he was more than happy and, in fact, I think it has acted as a really positive experience for all parties concerned including Ed’s wider family and friends.
Training for the race itself lasted 10 weeks, as I wanted to put in a decent effort. My target was to run 8 minute miles and therefore a 1 hour 20 minute race. All in all, I have loved every minute as it has been a wonderful reason to get fit and find speed and stamina I did not know I possessed. And as for the fund raising? Well, having initially thought I would aim to raise £100, I had to adjust the target several times over as the total pushed past the old one, only to finish with £2,045.14!! I am thrilled beyond belief and so grateful to all my friends, family, and colleagues who gave so generously. Hopefully the money can help MS-UK to continue to support people to have choice, control and independence. After all, if there was one theme that united all my donators, it was what a good cause the money was going to.
Oh, I managed 1 hour 22 minutes 22 seconds in the end, which whilst a little short of the all-important goal, was still an improvement of 10 minutes on my previous effort. Good times!’