Everyone who takes on the daunting challenge of the marathon has a story to tell and I hope that when I take on the pavements of London in April, mine will strike a chord with you. This time I will be running for anyone who has ever doubted their ability to make an impact, and the knowledge that I am breaking down so many barriers – internal and external. This is my second time around and what I have learned about myself is that I do love the double-edginess of challenge and achievement.
22 years ago I had something to prove to myself. I had broken my ankle some years earlier – a nasty compound fracture – and had been told I would never run. Whilst this hadn't stopped me engaging in sport, there was something missing. I had allowed someone else's barrier to stop me from trying something. Taking on the marathon was an inspired solution. I was motivated, focused, but more importantly, humbled by watching one particular person on TV – an older woman running the London marathon with extreme commitment and passion, like so many others. I figured that if she could, so could I. I overcame my own personal adversity and ran the 1996 London marathon.
The second time around, I am that older woman. And this time I am running for my charity, Sporting Equals. I am putting myself, my body on the line (and my reputation for not being a quitter) for the fight that I believe in – to help remove the barriers to inclusivity and equality, to walk (run!) the talk. I am putting my heart on my sleeve to connect my values with my actions. Connecting 1996 to the present day are the strong women in my life. My dear friend Alexis (who passed away in 2009) was there for me, radiating strength, encouragement and unconditional support at the finishing line, with my then 5-year old daughter Xuxa. In full circle, this year Xuxa will be there with Alexis' daughter, my god-daughter Sophia.
As I pound the pavements my vision is sharp, my task, burden and body getting lighter every day, as I am clear that this challenge represents all that I stand for: the power of self-belief, of friends, family and community, of social justice and crucially the importance of the need for greater cohesion in society.
Originally from Wolverhampton, I have been living in Whitchurch, Shropshire for the last eight years. Married to my wife Anna, we have three young children who are by now very used to daddy's early morning alarm call to get up and out for a run to clock up the miles. My love for running began six years ago with a gentle jog around the park. The obsession soon took hold and now I can be spotted around our local town with my head torch on at 5.30am most mornings pounding the pavements. This marathon will be a very big challenge for me but is definitely something to tick off my bucket list.
I feel very fortunate to be able to run for Sporting Equals as I hugely admire their work and contributions for the BAME communities.
April will soon be here and the challenge will begin. In the meantime I will continue with my early morning runs and strive to be in the best possible shape for the marathon in order to support and promote the charity as best I can.
Having realised that my 60th Birthday was fast approaching and that I was overweight and unfit my New Year resolution of 2016 was to reverse this inevitability and taking up running seemed an easy way to start. My first mile was a killer and took nearly 16 mins but now, 3 stone lighter and 10k,half marathons and a metric marathon under my belt I'm now ready for the big one! And what better but to run the London Marathon, and in support of a worthwhile charity. My nephew in law Sid persuaded me that I can do it and to join him.Whilst we may start together, the next time I will see him is on the finish line when I cross probably an hour after him! I am slightly taken aback at my situation having never really run in my life to find myself talking of running the London Marathon but here I am and there I go running the very dark lanes of Anglesey North Wales to build up the miles between now and April.
Between annoying all friends, family and colleagues to support me in this effort I am looking forward to helping Sporting Equals in their cause and between runs I will be challenging friends on the golf course to help me raise funds for the charity. Wish me luck and I look forward to seeing all my fellow runners supporting “Sporting Equals” on the finishing line ( I'll probably be the last of the group to cross the line; I'm not quick)!
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