Sunday, 25 April 2010

Taking time to reflect on progress made so far.

Sometimes I feel the need to take a step back from all of the the training, fundraising and other preparation for the 3100 mile run across the USA next year. It doesn't happen often but this weekend is one of those times.

Almost everything associated with the 3100 mile run is bang on schedule. I've saved 75% of the Tour Fund already and will soon be able to book flights, hotels and the transport. The remaining 25% will be for food, fuel, insurance and energy/recovery products. It's a significant sum of money but if I hit the £50,000 target for the 2 charities it will be well worth it. Some say the figure raised for St Benedict's Hospice and the Children's Foundation could be higher but I've set that target and I'm sticking to it (for now!).

Given that I've got a day job and a family as well as going to the match I'm very pleased with the training so far. I'm building the mileage up nicely and I'm on target to run 32 miles a day for 7 days in training by mid August. I've got a few thousand miles under my belt for this training campaign with very few injuries. I've always viewed this physical resilience as one of my assets and I'm confident of being able to run 3100 miles in 100 days as a result.

Lets not forget that I've also got the coaching and mentoring of David Fairlamb and Mark Fleming on my side. Way back in August 2008, I quoted a certain Theodore Schumann as saying "In order to grow in your field, you need a voice that understands where you're coming from and what your goals are. A mentor provides the wisdom you haven't yet achieved, or the motivation you need to take bold action. While you won't always agree with your mentor, you will learn to appreciate all he or she teaches you.". These words pretty much sum up the relationship I have with David and Mark. I've always been a great believer in surrounding myself with the right people. Make no mistake, these two guys are the right people. I've got no doubt that they will be one of the key factors that will help bring about a successful run across the USA in 2011.

One of the main sacrifices during this training campaign is the time I spend with friends and family (other than Katy and Jack of course). I know that training for this run hasn't gone down very well in some quarters with remarks such as "I don't know why you're doing it, you're wasting your time.", "You've become very self centered.", "If you're not careful, you'll end up with nothing and no one." and "You will get some glory and recognition for a while but how long will that last?".  I think some people have missed the point with those comments. The "glory and recognition" can last until the end of the run as far as I'm concerned. It's the financial gain that the 2 charities will have that is the most important thing. Don't forget that I was the sole carer for my poor Mam as she fought the battle against lung cancer. I was 23 at the time when she died and, without the help of the doctors and nurses at St Benedict's Hospice, she would have suffered much more than she did at the end of her life. As a 23 year old back then I vowed to repay the debt of gratitude towards the Hospice for as long as I could. Well, 16 years and over £50,000 later I'm continuing to say thank you to St Benedict's Hospice in whatever way I can. So, how dare people say that I'm wasting my time. How bloody dare they! This is the first and the last time I've ever written words of this nature on this blog.

Moving swiftly on! The fundraising aspect of the run could not have gone any better so far. It's amazing that £9,163.20 has been raised already, despite the run being 12 months away. While it's amazing, though, I'm not one bit surprised. Over the last 16 years, I've come to realise just how generous people are. Not just in our region either. I've taken donations from all over the world and from many exiled Geordies.

Back in December 2009 I said on this blog that "I'd like to think that, by next Christmas, the fund will have nudged close to £15,000". Well, with just over £4,000 added to the total already since then we are well on the way to hitting that milestone. I don't take anybody's generosity for granted, though, and will be working and training extremely hard to raise that sum of money this year.

Another pleasing aspect of the run is the publicity side of things. It's no coincidence that since got involved the charity fund started to grow quickly and a lot more people became aware of the run. I've now got people who sit in front, to the side and behind me at St James Park who've all made donations or bought a Run Geordie Run t-shirt. I meet people all of the time who say "Oh yes, I've seen you on". The Peter's Pies and Adidas sponsorship were both as a result of

Appearing on is something else I don't take for granted and I'm extremely grateful for the quite outstanding publicity they give to Run Geordie Run and the 2 charities. Especially, when there are so many people out there doing similar sponsored events for so many different worthwhile causes.

Another place that I've found very useful for spreading the word about the run is Twitter and Facebook. Both of these social networks have brought about fundraising opportunities that would not have otherwise been possible. I've talked to some pretty amazing people on there and Run Geordie Run has built up quite a following with 2450 followers on Facebook and 500 followers on Twitter. Not to mention the sub groups on there dedicated to the Peter's Pies run and one for fans of the Run Geordie Run t-shirt! Yes, even the t-shirt has it's own group.

Publicity for the run has been seen on Sky Sports News and Tyne Tees TV. I've been heard on Real Radio and BBC Newcastle. People have read about the run in The Evening Chronicle, The Journal, The Mag (watch out for me in this month's Summer Special) and numerous other publications and websites. There is also a pending appearance of the promotional video that is currently under production on the popular All in all, a lot of people should be aware of Run Geordie Run by the time I set off from California in 2011.

Over the last few weeks, I've had words of encouragement from some of the players from Newcastle United, cyclist Mark Beaumont (whom I admire greatly by the way! He's one of my heroes!), Amir Khan, Iwan Thomas and Ben Shephard who said "Mark this is an incredible challenge. I will follow and support all I can! Good luck mate".

I've since been invited to run the 145 mile Coast to Coast route with Ben and Ivan Hollingsworth in July. I'll let Ivan and his wife Nadine explain what that's all about. "On the 11th January 2009 we were blessed by the birth of our beautiful son Sebastian. The dream quickly turned into a nightmare as 15 hours after his birth Seb was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition called Tetralogy of Fallot which if left untreated would mean he wouldn’t see his 2nd birthday.

Seb started to become ill earlier than expected and at just 4 months old the decision was taken by the surgical team at the Freeman Hospital to perform emergency surgery. After 6 hours in theatre, a rollercoaster week in Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and 4 weeks on Ward 23 we finally got to take our boy home. Touch wood, Seb is doing really well, and we are all praying that he will not require any further operations....not till he is much older at least.

The events of this year have spurred us into fund raising mode. As like so many other families that have passed through the doors of the Freeman Hospital, we want to show our gratitude in any small way that we can; let’s face it, nothing we do can say THANK YOU enough for saving our son’s life!".

To be asked to join them on the run is an absolute honour. It's great to hear that their story had a happy outcome and that little Seb is doing really well. The Freeman Hospital is, indeed, a wonderful place where modern day miracles happen.

I hope to gain a lot of inspiration from Ivan, Nadine and Seb's story. Like me, they seem to have a burning desire to show their gratitude.

I could go on talking about the many other aspects of the run but I think I'll leave it there for now. I'm sure you'll agree that most of the building blocks are being put in place for a successful 3100 mile run across the USA next year.

I'm more than happy with many aspects of the run. The final piece of the jigsaw is to get my weight down to the required level. I've got to say that running over 100 miles in training is easy compared to eating properly. If I don't get this long standing problem of nutrition right, though, I will suffer even more next year.