Streaking for the MS Trust

It’s been while since Joe and I completed the year-long Worthington 500k Challenge, crossing the line at the Barcelona 10k on New Year’s Eve 2015.  Although we’d set out to run 500k in races to raise £10,000, we’d clocked actually up 721km, raised £14,500 for the Multiple Sclerosis Trust and really surprised ourselves!

Our highlights included racing trains in Wales and Nessie in Scotland, Joe running two marathons in two weeks, completing the Great North Run and being joined by amazing friends along the way. Not bad for an idea dreamt up in the pub to mark 10 years since my diagnosis with MS.

It’s not been quite so hectic since, although we’ve kept up our running and fundraising, taking our total over £17,000 with pub quizzes, Ackworth Road Runners bobble hats, swear boxes, sweets and biscuits. Our most surprising donation came at my sister’s wedding, when the happy couple gave their guests MS Trust pin badges with their favours. On the running front, Joe ran the London marathon for the MS Trust last year and we both took part in the Great North Run on the Trust team.

bobble hats

I’ve missed the challenge element of my running though, so now I’ve recovered from a badly broken elbow, it seems like high time for another challenge! Looking at the diary, we have loads of races coming up over the summer, so I’ve decided to incorporate them into a Summer Running Streak.

Using famous running “streaker” Ron Hill’s rules, I aim to run at least 1 mile every single day through July and August, fitting that around work and all the other daft things I get up to. Kicking off with Endure 24 on the first of July, the challenge will incorporate loads of other races, including the Leeds and York 10ks, Canal and Doncaster 5ks, Dusk Til Dawn, Flat Cap 5 mile, a return to Wales for Race the Train and of course, the weekly parkrun fix.

Once again, I’ll be inviting friends to join me in raising funds for the MS Trust as part of the Run With Us Team, either at one of the summer races or maybe having a go at their own running streak. Our fundraising page remains the same at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/Worthington500k and every penny makes a huge difference by providing support to people with MS and their families.

I hope you like the latest challenge idea and will show us the same support that the Worthington 500k inspired… wish me luck!

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London Marathon 2016

In 2015 we set out to run 500k in timed events and to raise £10,000 for the MS Trust. It was a long way and a lot of money, but after 10 years living well with Multiple Sclerosis, we wanted to say thank you to the charity that trains MS nurses in England.

By the time we ran our last race in Barcelona on New Years Eve, we had run over 720km, raised awareness of the MS Trust and staying healthy with MS and, with our friends, raised over £14,500. Our challenge had seen us running all around the UK including Loch Ness, Edinburgh, around the Yorkshire Region and chasing a train through West Wales, before ending the year with a 10k run in Barcelona on New Years Eve

IMG_1619 After completing the New Year’s Eve run in Barcelona and completing the Worthington500k challenge, you would think it was time to put my feet up… However after I had been unsuccessful in the ballot again, I was able to secure a place on the MS Trust London Marathon team. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to run this iconic event, so the challenge continues.

With 6 weeks to go before the London Marathon training is starting to pick up again as I up the miles and to complete the course in under 3 hours 30 minutes. On the day while I am running Debbie will be joining the MS Trust team along with the route at the support station on the Embankment around the 40km mark. I’m sure this will give me a boost with only a couple more kilometres to go

Friends and family will be playing “Where’s Wally” with the TV footage on the day to see if they can spot the ginger hair and blue vest throughout the run – I managed 2 seconds on the tele a few years ago at the Great North Run, so let’s see if I can do any better this time!

Following our efforts last year we raised over £14,500 and it would be great if we can reach the next milestone before the London marathon. The handmade Easter Bunnies are on sale again and we’ll also be holding an Easter egg raffle.

great north run

Last year we were overwhelmed by the support we received and although our fundraising efforts will be more modest in 2016, we both want to keep supporting the MS Trust.  This year, in addition to the London marathon, we will also be running the Great North Run in September for this great charity.

MS Trust website     https://www.mstrust.org.uk

2015 Challenge Overview

 

It’s hard to know where to start in summing up the Worthington 500k Challenge throughout 2015, so I thought I’d start in Malta, where it all began. We’re back out here for the Malta Half Marathon and this morning Joe and I we’re joined by friends on a 5k DIY Parkrun along the coast.

Rewind by two years and things weren’t much different; Joe was running the Malta Half Marathon and we were going out for a little run the day before… The difference was it was the first time I’d run for any reason other than to catch a train since I’d been at school!

The following day I was cursing our choice of B&B; our lovely room was on the second floor and my legs hurt so much I couldn’t even get up the stairs! I’d only managed to run 1km, but Joe had managed 21km and was absolutely fine… My 10k training had begun though and I had until July to reach the distance.

My first milestone was the Rother Valley Parkrun in May; a lovely flat course and my first experience of a community that’s become a massive part of my life. With that conquered it was time to build up to the slightly trickier Pontefract and Nostell courses.

I ran the Jane Tomlinson Leeds 10k with 100s of my Asda Colleagues after 5 months training and made it around in 1:15:37 – only 15 minutes quicker than Joe’s Malta half marathon time! I’d enjoyed it though and kept up the training and Saturday morning Parkrun addiction.

Being able to run 10k was never one of my goals. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when I was 25 and wasn’t that sporty before, so it just didn’t feature on the to-do list! Two years ago I started to follow a lifestyle designed to help people manage the symptoms of MS; I felt the benefits of the low saturated fat diet almost instantly and within months I had regained lost sensation in my feet, had more energy and had lost weight.

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Waiting for Joe to complete the Great North Run later that year, I decided to kill some time looking around the charity village and stumbled across the MS Trust tent. Speaking with the team there, I discovered that this charity trains all the MS specialist nurses in England and provides all the info for people with MS and their families receive. I had a lot to thank them for, without even realising they existed!

I signed up for the Great North Run there and then and began to think about how I could prepare myself for a Half Marathon and raise the £300 requested too. In the next few months the Worthington 500k was born, with Joe and I aiming to run 500k in races between us in 2015 and attempting to raise £10,000 to mark my 10 years living with the illness.

We knew we had a shot at managing the distance, but we thought that our fundraising target was more than a little ambitious! That was until our friends pledged their support and suddenly we were part of a team of people who believed in us, and more importantly, themselves.

We held bake sales at work, hosted quizzes and race nights, gave up sweets and treats and got fitter together. I ran the Leeds 10k for the second time on my birthday, this time with 15 friends and a team of supporters. For some it was their first (and last!) 10k, for others it was the inspiration to run the distance themselves in the future; but we all agreed the pint at the end tasted amazing!

Leeds Group Finish

Joe and I completed the Worthington 500k Challenge in Barcelona on New Year’s Eve after running 721km in races and raising £14,500 for the MS Trust. We raced trains in Wales and Nessie in Scotland; Joe ran two marathons in two weeks and I completed the Great North Run. It’s hard to pick out one highlight, so I won’t even try.

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What I can say is we raised enough money for the MS Trust to train 7 new MS nurses or provide the MS Trust newsletter to all 9000 people with MS in the Yorkshire and Humber region for the next 18 months. We also received the JCI Barnsley Community award and have been nominated as Charity Fundraiser of the Year and Inspirational Person at the Yorkshire Choice Awards.

Ultimately, we got people talking about MS and learned a lot more about the illness ourselves, making further tweaks for a healthier future. It’s been a privilege to have so many unexpected conversations about MS, share our experiences and hopefully give other people like me a bit of hope that their diagnosis shouldn’t stand in the way of achieving their goals.

All that is priceless, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

The Final Furlong

Throughout the challenge, we’ve both looked forward to the final run of the year in Barcelona. We didn’t know what to expect from running in the evening, on New Year’s Eve, but it felt like a fitting end to the challenge and a nice reward for us after all the miles we’ve covered in training and in events (especially the soggy Abbey Dash in November!).

Joined by friends for the trip, we set off after a busy Christmas to what proved to be a very sunny and warm Barcelona; after a couple of days seeing the sights and enjoying the warm weather, it was time to get ready for a run, so we relaxed with a beer on the sea front before heading off for a pre-race Italian meal!

 

We were really touched to see a flurry of last minute donations coming in and still can’t quite believe the support we have received in terms of the sponsorship, needing to increase our target not once, but twice through the year. The support from our friends has been incredible all the way, so it was extra special to have our cheerleaders at the finish line on foreign soil!

The race itself was a real surprise, with the serious runners flying round the course (the winner completing the race in 28.30) and us setting off with the majority of the 10,000 plus runners surrounded by a real party atmosphere. As most of the runners were locals, they were dressed for winter whereas we both struggled with the heat after months of chilly weather in the UK!

cropped-barca

It was different going past, and being passed by, fellow runners with dogs and pushchairs, along with children running the event too (including a whole martial arts school) but it all added to the more laid back and inclusive experience.  It was the only race we ran together throughout the challenge and it seemed to fly by (despite it being the slowest race of the challenge for me). It didn’t feel like it took us long before we were in the last km and were looking out for Rich, Tracy, Ben and Alli, who had broken away from their beers to cheer us down the final straight.

 

After a refreshing drink , it was back across Barcelona (after a shower so we weren’t too smelly) to the Palace and Magic Fountains to welcome in the New Year with tens of thousands of others at an open air party!

After finishing the race it was a strange feeling to know we’d completed the challenge, and rather than the original 500km target, we had completed over 700km in races and over 1000km more in training. Our ambitious fundraising target of £10,000 had also been broken back in September (and we’d never thought we’d get close!) and overall we’ve raised over £14,000 throughout the year.

fireworks

The challenge has come to an end, but our running will continue with both of us aiming to improve in 2016 and carry on enjoying the advice and encouragement from Ackworth Road Runners. We have quite a few runs booked already, including a couple of headline events that we’ll be running for the MS Trust –the Great North Run and I will be taking on the London Marathon in April.

Once, again thank you for your ongoing support and helping us achieve our ambitious targets over the course of an incredible year.

 

The last challenge

Throughout the challenge, we’ve both looked forward to the final run of the year in Barcelona on New Years Eve. We didn’t know what to expect and thought it could be a bit odd running in the evening on New Year’s Eve, but it felt like a fitting end to the challenge and a nice reward for us after all the miles we’ve covered in training and in events (especially the soggy Abbey Dash in November!).

parc guell

Joined by friends for the trip, we set off after a busy Christmas to what proved to be a very sunny and warm Barcelona; after a couple of days seeing the sights and enjoying the warm weather, it was time to get ready for a run, so we relaxed with a beer on the sea front before heading off for a pre race Italian meal!

We were really touched to see a flurry of last minute donations coming in and still can’t quite believe the support we have received in terms of the sponsorship, needing to increase our target not once, but twice. The support from our friends has been incredible all the way, so it was extra special to have cheerleaders at the finish line on foreign soil.

Start line

The race itself was a real surprise, with the serious runners flying round the course (the winner completing the race in 28.30) and us setting off with the majority of the 10,000 plus runners surrounded by a real party atmosphere. As most of the runners were locals, they were dressed for winter whereas we both struggled with the heat after months of chilly weather in the UK!

It was different going past, and being passed by, fellow runners with dogs and pushchairs, along with children running the event too (including a whole martial arts school) but it all added to the more laid back and inclusive experience.  It was the only race we ran together throughout the challenge and it seemed to fly by (despite it being the slowest race of the challenge for me). It didn’t feel like it took us long before we were in the last km and were looking out for Rich, Tracy, Ben and Alli, who had broken away from their beers to cheer us down the final straight.

barca

After finishing the race it was a strange feeling to know we’d completed the challenge, and rather than the original 500km target, we had completed over 700km in races (and over 1000km more in training) and our ambitious fundraising target of £10,000 had been  broken and we have raised over £14,000 throughout the year.

After a refreshing drink , it was back across Barcelona (after a shower so we weren’t too smelly) to the Palace and Magic Fountains to welcome in the New Year with tens of thousands of others at an open air party!

fireworks

The challenge has come to an end, but our running will continue with both of us aiming to improve in 2016 and carry on enjoying the advice and encouragement from Ackworth Road Runners. We have quite a few runs booked already, including a couple of headline events that we’ll be running for the MS Trust –the Great North Run and I will be taking on the London Marathon in April.

Once, again thank you for your ongoing support and helping us achieve our ambitious targets over the course of an incredible year.

The Final Countdown

It’s hard to believe that the Worthington 500k Challenge is coming to a close! 2015 has been a very busy year and December has been no different; in fact we seem to have been in Lycra a fair bit this month, despite the falling temperatures (and rain!).

The month kicked off with the Edwinstowe 10k, our second trail race of the Challenge and first big event as new members of Ackworth Road Runners. It was great to be part of the annual Christmas pilgrimage for the club and run past the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest with so many now familiar faces.

 

There was an uncanny likeness between all the marshalls around the course, which made it great fun trying to spot Fi and JJ! As always, Joe was off in front and was part of the winning Ackworth combined team for the race, something he’s really proud of! It was a bit slower going for me, but thanks to Nicky’s encouragement, I made it around and got some useful tips on fuelling, training and injury prevention en route.

Nicky’s advice encouraged us to get booked in for a session with Todd Martin Sports Therapy the following week, which lead to the surprising discovery that I’ve probably been running with a torn hip flexor muscle since the Great North Run! We thought we’d done quite well to get through the year without injury, but I’m glad to say he did a great job and it’s not bothered me since and I’ve been able to increase my training again.

Parkruns have played a big part of December too, with the opportunity to run on Christmas Day and Boxing Day too random to resist! Fi and JJ featured again on our pre-turkey trot at Concord Parkrun, along with Lola and Charlie. We were back on familiar ground at Nostell for Boxing Day; unsurprisingly there were no PBs for us, but we made it around in respectable times considering the excesses of the day before!

A final mention has to go to our Christmas Elves and everyone who bought our Christmas decorations! Fi, Carolyn and my Mum have been busy all year making crafts to sell to raise funds for the MS Trust and the Christmas Collection proved to be really popular. Their Christmas stockings, puddings, baubles and gifts raised an incredible £478 – enough to provide all the publications and fact sheets an MS nurse will need for their patients and families in the coming year.

So, with only 4 days to go before our final race of the challenge, we begin the final countdown…

Approaching the Finish Line

It’s hard to be believe we’re entering the final month of our year long challenge and we have just clocked up over 600km in events! Our original target was to run 500k in events, but we expect to be nearer 700k by the time we cross the line in Barcelona on New Year’s Eve to complete the challenge.

Despite entering the final stretch of the challenge we haven’t slowed down, completing the Leeds Abbey Dash on a cold wet and windy day in the middle of November and I have just run the Barnsley 10k on a cold, wet and windy day at the end of November, where Debbie had a rare day off and supported me. Next week we will both be running our penultimate race, a 10k trail race in Edwinstowe, which we expect to be wet, windy…. and very muddy!

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After the amazing generosity shown by the guests at the JCI UK national convention this month, we have now reached our increased target of £13,000 for the MS Trust too. We never expected to be able to raise anywhere near this amount; it seems unreal to us both and the support has been unbelievable.

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Even more unexpected has been the fundraising efforts of our friends and some of the crazy things that they’ve been up to in November to support the challenge, including Kate and Dan running the Paras10 in Colchester  – 10 miles in military issue boots and backpacks!

dan and kate

On top of the running Debbie and her team of crafters have been busy continuing to make the Minions that have proved very popular throughout the year and have also made a range of Christmas Decorations to brighten up your Christmas trees! Check them out here.

Christmas

Despite the challenge coming to an end, we have both been enjoying the running and our MS Trust vests will continue to be worn next year as we have both signed up to the Great North Run again and I will be running in the London Marathon as part of the MS Trust team.

Again, thank you for your support throughout the year and we hope you have enjoyed reading our updates.

More Marathons

A couple of weeks after completing the Loch Ness Marathon I found myself on the start line again for another 26.2 miles, wondering if I was being too ambitious / stupid to do two marathons in two weeks.

The Jane Tomlinson Yorkshire Marathon was my first ever marathon and helped set the challenge for the year, along with the Great North Run. 12 months on and the conditions were very different; after the fog and mist of last year, this year the 7,000 runners were lining up on a perfectly sunny morning.

With a plan of setting off slowly in the hope of reaching my target time of 3 hours 30 mins, I set off behind the official pacer. After a mile I had caught them and found myself drifting past him with the aim of staying just ahead; unfortunately not long after we ran past the Minster, with Eye of the Tiger playing, I must have picked up the pace. I noticed 5 miles on that I had pulled ahead of the pacer and he was out of sight…  checking my watch I was, as usual, running far too quickly and tried to slow things down after passing a sign saying  “only 8.4 parkruns to go”.

As with previous marathon attempts, I found myself starting to pay for running too quickly around the 18 mile marker, despite this area of the course being a spectator zone with a lot of help and support pushing me and the other runners on. Reaching the last few miles and hearing a supporter mention they could see the 4 hour pacer, I found some energy to put in a final burst to ensure I finished ahead of him:  I completed the marathon in 3 hour 57 minutes. This was my slowest time so far, but I feel I am now more experience, determined and better equipped to reach my target time next year in Edinburgh.

york finsih

Only another couple of weeks until my next run, the Worksop half marathon, and hopefully I will have recovered fully from my cold and marathon madness.

york floor

Race prep for the perfect 10

Back in 2009 I had the pleasure of being President of JCI Barnsley, one of over 5000 local branches of the worldwide Junior Chamber International organisation. I’ve taken many things from my “year to lead”, but the thing I treasure most is the friends I made. My fellow Yorkshire Presidents, Emma (Leeds) and Lisa (Sheffield) and I became a formidable team (even reaching the European Debating finals in Budapest) and generally having an absolute blast!

When we announced our Worthington 500k Challenge, Emma was quick to sign up to run along side me for the MS Trust and was a founding member of the Run With Us Team. Lisa wanted to help too and suggested a fabulous fundraiser; a ladies night at SPA 1877 in Sheffield where she works as their marketing guru.

Lisa has been instrumental in the Challenge, as without her I simply wouldn’t have started running. A chance post on Facebook about a MS “recovery” programme that had had positive benefits for a family friend of hers, lead me to the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis website.

With Lisa’s support, I found out more and decided to give it a go; cutting out almost all the saturated fat from my diet (no meat, dairy or refined oils) was tough, but I saw the benefits within weeks. Soon I’d lost weight and my energy levels were much higher – maybe I could take back a bit of control from my illness afterall?

spa

After following the programme for a year I felt confident enough to start doing more in the gym and give running a go – taking small steps I built up my fitness and was able to complete my first 10k last summer. It was watching Joe at the Great North Run a month later where I decided that I would carry on training and run it this year. The Worthington 500k Challenge was born!

On the eve of the Yorkshire 10 Miler, 25 ladies came together at the spa and spent an evening being pampered by the wonderful staff and enjoying the fabulous facilities. It was so nice to be able to relax with our friends and family whilst raising almost £300 for the MS Trust – a far cry from our usual exertions on the Challenge!

The following morning I took on the Yorkshire 10 miler whist Joe battled through his second marathon in two weeks. Despite it only being the third time I’d run that far, I enjoyed the run, managed to smile through most of it and knew no matter how much I hurt, Joe would be hurting more! It was great to know that somewhere in the crowds, my sister and her partner would be laughing at all the daft people spending their Sunday running in a big circle!

york medals (1)

I can recommend a night at the spa to anyone that wants to prepare for a big race – I know I slept like a log when I got home, and that never happens before a big race. I want to say a massive “Thank You” to Lisa, all the ladies that joined us and Spa 1877 for hosting the event. Maybe next year I should take on a relaxation challenge…

york medals (2)

 

Loch Ness Marathon

A long trip up to Inverness for the Loch Ness Marathon got my marathon double header under way; I was hoping my training would pay off and was looking forward to one of the most scenic Marathons in the UK.

loch ness scenic

Following the two day drive north (we did stop off on the way!) I left the B & B at 6.30am to get to the mist draped festival village and boarded the coach that would take us down the length of Loch Ness to the start. This can only be described as a single track road in the middle of the highlands, but it was a spectacular place to see the sun come up.

I wandered around soaking up the buzz around the start area and queued for a much welcomed cup of coffee supplied by a local scout group; the first of the days brilliant volunteers. After catching up with fellow members of the Ackworth Road Runners, I prepared for the challenge ahead and took in the views.

A pipe band began to play and the haunting sounds in those surroundings really set the mood amongst the runners and changed the atmosphere around the start. To have the band march through the middle of the start area, before lining the road pipe us on our way has to be the most memorable start to a race so far.

After the noise and crowds of the Great North run, we set off into the peace and quiet, heading north on our way back to the festival ground. After the non-stop support all the way around the GNR, the Loch Ness Marathon offered quiet roads and stunning views and very few supporters around the course until we arrived back into Inverness for the final 3 miles of the run.

Staying motivated on the run wasn’t a problem as the views along the course, and the usual friendly atmosphere of the run, passed the miles. I had the opportunity to talk to runners who had come from Spain and Italy, and also heard that there were runners from Mexico and Japan too (including Koichi Kitabake, the oldest runner at the age of 81).

As with my previous two marathons, the first half went comfortably and then, at around 15 miles I started to find the going a bit harder; by the time I hit the big hill after 18 miles, I realised I wasn’t as prepared as I’d hoped. After run-walking the majority of the hill, I got going again… But then an unexpected second steep hill snuck in, and despite encouragement from some of the runners I had been speaking to earlier in the run, it hurt!

After the undulations were out of the way, the small matter of running back into Inverness for the last few miles remained. This was where the support lining the route really helped drag me round the city and once I was alongside the river I knew I was nearly done and managed to (just about) keep running. Finally the finishing line was in sight, and with all the vocal support, I completely missed Debbie and Grace (who had come across from Aberdeen to cheer us on).

loch ness

Debbie hadn’t been standing around waiting for me to get there though; after a nice lie in (compared to me) she was up and out, competing in the River Ness 10k. She added another PB to the collection with a time of 1.03.47, taking over 7 minutes off her time since her first 10k of the challenge in Lincoln.

loch ness debs

I managed to complete the run and achieve a personal best time of 3.44.36 too. This wasn’t the improvement I was hoping for, but I do get the chance to put this right (with only two weeks rest) at the Yorkshire Marathon. Hopefully my legs have recovered well and I’ll be ready to go again and get nearer my target time of 3.30 in York.

loch ness end