My run for ‘The London Mother’
I am 58 years old and have been a keen runner since my mid-30’s. In fact my love of running began when I was at school when, aged 14, I won a big trophy on Sports Day for winning a 1500 metre race. I retained the trophy for 2 more years and felt that at last I’d found something that I was good at!
Hanging onto that memory, I came back to running in my 30’s simply as a way of keeping fit. Being of a slightly competitive nature, I started to enter a few races, and found that I did quite well. After a while I got myself a coach and I qualified to run for the County, and even won some races. It’s like anything, if you practice, you get better…
And I’ve just carried on really. Of course you get slower as you get older, but I still have that mentally of wanting to train everyday, and luckily my wife is the same!
Another great thing about running is that race organisers do generally consider the older runners, and give out age group prizes, so there’s still something to go for even now I’m not up with the leading group anymore.
My sister-in-law, Juliet, is attractive, vivacious, intelligent, and charming. Six years ago she received the news that she had MS. She is amazing, she fights it everyday, doing her best to keep up an exercise regime, supporting her husband and two sons, and working in a local Estate Agent near her home.
The young team she works with love her. She provides an experienced and caring ear to listen to their problems, a hand to guide them, and even a shoulder to cry on. They have dubbed her, ‘The London Mother’. Advice on subjects as diverse as girl friends, boy friends, cooking, social outings, you name it, are taken to Juliet for her wise counsel.
Juliet has her own little saying, ‘As long as I have my mascara and lip stick, I’ll be okay’.
Over recent years, Clare, my wife, has done lots of fund raising for MS-UK, so this year I decided that I wanted to do something. I set myself a motivating challenge.
The North Downs 30k race, which starts and finishes in Gravesend is a challenging event to say the least! Nearly 19 miles of off-road trails, immense hills, and this year, following days of heavy rain, deep mud in places. It is described on the entry form as being, ‘uplifting’, ‘brutal’, ‘unique’, ‘tough’, ‘iconic’, and ‘harder than a marathon’.
An added bonus to this year’s event was that it was designated to be the British Master’s Trail Running Championships. This meant that you were competing directly against runners within 5 year age bands, and if you won your age group you received a British Championship gold medal! There were silver and bronze medals too for the runners-up.
So, the race provided me with two aims: (a) To raise a decent amount of money for MS-UK, and (b) To win a British Championship medal!
I made this plan in February, so I had 4 months to train specifically for this event, to take place on 26th June. Although Essex is generally considered to be fairly flat, where I live in Saffron Walden, there are some decent hills. And I ran them. Repeatedly. I made a training plan, and stuck to it, and I arrived at the race knowing that I was in decent shape.
The fund raising was going quite well too, and I had around £600 pledge to the cause by race day.
The run was a magnificent event! In all my running years I have never done anything quite like it. Around 600 runners charging across the North Downs. It was so tough! The constant rhythm-breaking effect of the hills, the mud, the umpteen styles and kissing gates, and even steps, that had to be negotiated, was energy and strength sapping. The last 10k was hard, but I did it, and finished in 2 hours and 32 minutes.
I was 45th overall, but 1st in my Age Group!
At the awards presentation afterwards I received my British Master’s medal from the Mayor of Gravesend. I was so pleased!
Writing this, two days after the event, my legs are still incredibly stiff! I have run 8 marathons in my time, but I don’t think that I have ever known tiredness like this before! It was absolutely worth it though.
The people at MS-UK have supported me brilliantly along the way, checking how things were going, wishing me luck before the race, and asking me how it went afterwards. I am pleased and proud to have raised some funds to support them in all the great work that they do for people like Juliet. My ‘JustGiving’ page is still open so hopefully yet more can be added to the running total.
When tiredness was creeping-in in that last 10k, I thought of Juliet. I thought of her courage, and how she would never give in. The ‘London Mother’, from Essex, inspired me.