Hi everyone, I’m Sue Foley from Colchester (aka Purplepants). On Sunday 09 July, I’ll be returning to London to run in the British 10k, three years after running my first 10k event for MS-UK and my first ever event since starting my running journey in May 2014.
I still find it amusing that I donned some running shoes back then and even more surprising that I’m still pounding the pavements now. At 50 years young, I was a late starter! I was inspired to run having watched the Virgin Money London Marathon in April 2013 from Tower Bridge. It simply gripped me so much that I felt the need to be doing something positive and challenge myself. My best friend and partner had passed away suddenly the year before so I was feeling somewhat lost in grief.
My childhood neighbour and friend Keith had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in March 2012, so I decided I’d like to fundraise for MS-UK, the charity that had helped him during the early days of his diagnosis. I contacted MS-UK to apply for one of their Gold Bond places at the Virgin Money London Marathon. What on earth was I thinking? I hadn’t even run 100 metres, let alone 26.2 miles! When I received the phone call to say I’d been offered a place, I burst into tears. It was an honour to be able to represent the charity. Fortunately, I had a whole year to fundraise and prepare myself mentally and physically for a running adventure.
My first port of call was to attend parkrun, a free, weekly 5k timed run which takes place all over the Country. I continued with parkrun alongside bootcamp and gym classes. Early in July 2014, Sam who worked at MS-UK phoned to ask if I’d like to get some experience in taking part in the British 10k. Another runner had suffered an injury, so Sam asked if I’d like to step in to replace them. It was short notice, yet I knew this would be a valuable exercise. I felt in good shape, though in reality I had only been running up to a 5k distance. I was up for the challenge all the same, realising I’d have to be sensible with my pacing.
With a week until the race, I set up an online JustGiving page which I shared via my social media and I was encouraged to see donations soon coming through. I had my name put on my running vest, so all that was left was for me to get to the start.
Race day arrived with an early alarm call. I remember feeling slightly anxious and excited. On arrival in London I remember heading across one of the bridges and noticing several people in running kit. It was my natural instinct to follow, assuming they’d all know where to go. I spoke to one runner just for reassurance that I was going the right way for the bag drop. Once I’d put my belongings in the bag drop, I proceeded to the start area. I remember vividly hearing the Chariots of Fire music sounding out as we walked through Admiralty Arch at Trafalgar Square. My eyes welled up, it was emotional to be amongst hundreds of runners, many of whom were wearing their respective charity’s vests.
The atmosphere leading towards the start line was special as I stood side by side so many strangers, yet friends also, in a sense that we were united in representing our chosen causes. Once I crossed the line, I smiled trying to take in all the sights. Music was playing along the course and spectators cheered the runners enthusiastically. I was given a boost hearing people call out my name. Running over Westminster Bridge felt surreal. I paused for a moment to capture a photo on my phone. Let’s face it, it’s not every day you get to run in the Capital City.
Approaching the finish, I remember coming along Whitehall and spotting the same runner I’d asked directions from at the start. We crossed the line together high fiving one another in victory.
I’m excited to be putting on my purple MS-UK vest (and purple everything else!) and joining the other fabulous MS-UK fundraisers running at the British 10k. My philosophy is ‘finish lines, not finish times’, having said that, I’d like to shave off 7 minutes of my 2014 time if possible. I’m extremely proud that through my running efforts I’ve raised over £5,000 for MS-UK over the past few years and helped to raise awareness of the charity’s work in my locality. I’ve also volunteered and been known to step into the mascot Myles’ shoes on occasions. Fundraising, volunteering and taking part in events for MS-UK has been fulfilling, fun and certainly helped given me focus and purpose. I hope I may inspire others to do the same.