This Sunday morning, it’s fair to say I was like a kid at Christmas – out of bed unreasonably early. I was excited too though. It was the Reading Half Marathon, the first event I’d attended with LLR, and a chance to be there in person and witness those months of fundraising and training come to fruition for thousands of runners, including over 100 Unstoppables. Our team for the day was helmed by the formidable Greg Sullivan, widely regarded as the king of chants, so I knew I was in good hands. We hit the road just after 6am and arrived in Reading in good time to stake out a location on the long straight near the race start at Green Park. Once we’d set up our eye-catching cheer point with red and white LLR banners and pop-ups, our task was simple: shout as much encouragement as possible as the runners came streaming past.
The weather could definitely have been kinder – by the end of the morning we had taken a fair soaking – but it seems churlish to complain about a bit of rain when all we had to do was stand in it for a few hours. These guys had to run 13.1 miles in it and will have been training throughout the cold, dark winter months to be ready for the big day. Being present at an event like this really brought into focus the levels of commitment people put in to achieve their goals, smashing PB’s and fundraising targets along the way. We caught a few of our runners as they came back past us near the end of the course, and alongside the understandable anguish on their faces, there was a look of real determination as they knuckled down and kicked for home. ‘Just think of that hot bath!’ we cried.
Hopefully it gave our runners a boost to know that we’d defied the elements to cheer them on. The whole experience put me in a great mood – and it clearly had a lasting effect, because later that afternoon when I was walking down my road back in London, a bloke in a fluorescent yellow cycling jacket rode past me and my natural instinct was to yell something at him to spur him on. We’ll never know how he would have reacted but it’s probably for the best that I managed to stop myself.
I was hoping to provide an update on my own training here, but a few things have got in the way unfortunately. The transition back into work and London life is tiring enough after a necessarily very slow-paced year at home. A few days of enforced rest after each monthly hospital trip also mean it’s difficult to make steady progress beyond a certain level of fitness. I don’t want to end on a negative note though, so I will state here I am sticking to my aim of running into work – a prospect which will become more appealing once those sunny spring mornings finally arrive. Meanwhile I can’t wait for the next opportunity to get out on the road with LLR and stand there shouting nonsense at our runners all over again.