When we made our new year’s resolutions 10 months ago, Ricky and I went for the usual ones: a little less indulgence, a little more exercise, a little more time spent with the family etc.; nowhere on our lists was a commitment to running a half marathon. But then again, sometimes the things we don’t plan end up being some of the best things we do all year. The Royal Parks Half Marathon was one of these things.
Long distance running isn’t a particular skill of mine; in fact, I’m of the camp that finds it bewildering as to why people do it and how people are capable of doing it. However, over the past couple of months, I think I’ve find some possible answers...
Firstly, why? Running for 2 hours non-stop is not an appealing thought; I would gladly argue it’s the opposite. But the reason I ran the Royal Parks wasn’t for my own benefit, it was for Scope and to raise awareness of their cause. As a member of Virgin Media's Graduate Committee, I (along with 5 other interns, graduates and alumni) committed to organising a charity event this year to raise money for Scope. And what better way to raise money than to put ourselves through a bit of pain?
Secondly, how are people capable of doing it? It turns out, it’s the obvious truth: plenty of training! But apart from weeks of preparation and running for a cause, I’d be lying if there wasn’t an appeal about the Royal Parks Half itself. It was a beautiful 21km of flat ground that weaved between iconic London parks and landmarks. Not only was the route something to admire (to the point where you’d momentarily forget the pain of running and lose yourself in a sightseeing daydream), but the people who lined the route brought the whole experience to life. Charities, families and friends shouted your name, running number and any other thing they could identify you with – anything to cheer you on. And it was an amazing feeling. They say that on race day you’re filled with adrenalin, but I think it goes one step further and you’re emotionally lifted by the positive energy of the crowd. As I’ve never done anything like this before, I’d never felt anything like that before either, and it was an incredibly profound emotion.
Profound as that was, there were also flashes of humour. At one point, I looked around and saw only costumes, from bananas and cartoon characters to squirrels and zebras; I watched a casual passer-by get involved on his skateboard as he was towed by his dog; I was even offered a lift by a pensioner on his scooter - if only I had said yes, I could have shaved a few minutes off my time! This absolutely summed up the day for me: 16,000 people coming together, gritting their teeth and putting pain behind them for a greater cause, and doing it with 16,000 smiles.
The Royal Parks Half Marathon raised £25m this year which is a huge achievement, and I’m proud to say the twelve of us across Virgin Media have collectively raised over £3,300 for Scope! However, we’re only 90% of the way to our £3,600 target, and our page is still open. We’ve reached the first finishing line but we need a little help reaching the second. If you’d like to donate to Scope, please visit our group page at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/VirginMediaRoyalParks and help Scope continue to do great things.
A big thank you in advance to those who donate and to those who have already donated. We may have done the hard part, but your donations are what will make the real difference today and tomorrow. I’d also like to thank the runners, all of whom put in time and effort into training and fundraising, and of course, running! And finally, thanks to Scope and our supporters: for getting us onto the start line and for carrying us over the finishing line.
Until next year! (Maybe!)
The 2016 Royal Parks Half Runners
Joe Faulkner, Will Coutts, Luke Melling, Jack Doherty, Ricky Fox, Blake May, Helen Bate, Grace Dawson
Joe D'souza, Joe Wan
Missing from photo: Adam Bagdu, Jacob Waller