Raising funds for charity is really hard work, on top of putting in lots of hours running around in the dark, I’ve been trying to get donations in for Myfanwy Townsend . There is great support from Michelle at the charity, but as a small charity there are lots of things that need doing and not a huge amount of resource to do it. It always amazes me when the statistics around Melanoma are spelt out
“Today, melanoma is one of the most rapidly increasing forms of cancer in the world. The incidence in the UK has risen by 143% in 18 years, and there is a comparable increase throughout the world, yet still, far too little is known about the disease. In the 1930′s melanoma affected 1 in 1,500: now it affects 1 in 50.”
Raising money, and awareness is critical to stem the tide on these statistics. I know only too well that early diagnosis and treatment of any cancer is critical. Both my parents would probably have survived with earlier diagnosis of their cancer, and survival statistics today suggest that the treatment would have been more effected too.
I’ve been very fortunate to have some amazing donations from all round the world, and I’m always grateful for any pennies. But I’m particularly honoured to have received my first corporate sponsorship from my cousin in Canada. His company, Simple Intranet has made such an enormous difference, in context £500 in one donation when in the last 15 years the charity has raised £400,000. It is really significant.
Also Chris has pledged that if any new customers of Simple Intranet who quote Marathon des Sables he will donate 50% of the sale to Myfanwy Townsend. Any one need an intranet?
As you can imagine, I want to give some space to the company that put up the money! It is an IT company with customers like clothing companies Patagonia and Diesel as well as NGBs like British Gymnastics and Banks from around the world.
So a quick explanation from Chris about the company and what they do.
WordPress is now used by over 21% of all websites and is far by the leading content management system. The Simple Intranet suite of plugins lets non-technical users turn a WordPress installation into a private intranet in minutes. Some call it a private Facebook for businesses. We offer a detailed employee photo directory, online forms, events calendar, activity feed, drag and drop file management and a slew of other features to manage HR functions and internal communications. Try our free lite version of our Simple Intranet Directory here: http://wordpress.org/plugins/simple-intranet-directory and visit our site for the full version here: http://www.simpleintranet.org
And he was also kind enough to give his point of view on my project
Ashley is a extremely determined and hard working family man. His close personal experiences with melanoma seem to have galvanized his efforts even further towards his goal of running what is arguably one of the most strenuous races around. If training and hard work brings luck, then Ashley certainly has got the best possible chance at crossing the desert. I am honoured to support him for a very worthy cause which will benefit generations to come.
Trying to write a story like my old English teacher taught me, when I’m this excited is difficult. A start, a middle and an end, never use the word nice! Good rules to work on!
This week has been Melanoma Awareness week. If you have a laugh about getting burnt in the sun, or don’t know how quickly melanoma is becoming a massive problem please, please take a few minutes and educate yourself. The best presented information is here – www.melanoma-fund.co.uk
On Melanoma, one of the things I have been struggling with is how I can use my run across the big, hot beach (Marathon des Sable) to raise awareness and money. After this week I feel like there is a campaign coming together. I met with Michelle from Caffeine Communications this week (actually on the day my Mum would have been 65 if she hadn’t died 23 years ago). Michelle has an idea or two, and I’m really excited to be working with her to promote Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund. I’m certain you will be hearing more about this in the weeks to come!
Trail Marathon Wales 2013 held a few nerves for me this year. I really wanted to race it, and I felt confident of breaking 4 hours until I was knocked flat by a bacterial infection in my organs. My plan was to complete rather than compete, run my own race, at my own pace. Being a bit competitive I knew I’d get swept along, but I was keen to run it my way.
I don’t race very often, but when I do I wear Meirionnydd Running Club colours. As a small young club, I’m very proud to be a part of the club.
Race day was due to be wet, which was good as it would keep the midges down and keep me cool. Early morning breakfast was looking out on rain. A light drizzle joined us on the drive to Coed y Brenin. But stopped almost as soon as I got out the car.
Coed y Brenin looks great year round, but when the flags are up, the PA system is going and the excitement of a thousand people milling around for an event it really is a special place.
I arrived later than I would normally. 20 minutes before the start. A few hello’s to familiar faces, and then 5 minutes to go, jeans and sweatshirt off, tie my shoelaces, strap on my bum bag. Lose my rucksack to an old paddling buddy who was serving up Carvetii Coffee. Stroll into the pack as the final countdown started to play. Listen to Matt Ward speak his prerace pep talk. Listen to the shotgun of Iori go bang-and it did, much better than last year. Then we all start shuffling towards the start line. The steady incline away from the start meant enough time to wave hello to the family. Settle into a good pace that I knew I could hold onto and see whether my legs would go the distance.
Lots of people heading off fast, really fast. But this was my pace. a kilometer later, I’m still doing my pace. Instead of being passed, I’m now passing. I know if I’m going to come in under 4 hours I need to average 5:42/km. My watch says on this steady climb, I’m about right. I pass Dafydd Roberts (to my mind the founder of CyB) heading along Sarn Helen. I’m starting to forget the “complete” plan for this race. I’m starting to compete. There is a lot of cat and mouse, I climb passed people, they over take me on the downhills, I level with them on the flat and climb passed again. After about 15km not many people are coming back passed me on the downhill and I’m still climbing passed a few. I pass one guy who has had a pretty minging tumble on steep downhill rock, another guy who has hurts his ankle, another whose knee has seen better days.
I’m feeding well, making sure I say thank you to every marshall who is there. Standing in a cloud of midges is not a great way to spend a day, but the race needs these kind volunteers.
Climbing away from the upper Mawddach I’m constantly on the edge of cramping, it’s a long climb and I decide to back off a bit, get electrolyte at the next feed station and keep going as hard as I can. At the next feed station there are some familiar running club faces, and I get a pat on the back from the winner of this years Cader Race. “It’s all hurting Ifs” I say. He smiles.
Crossing the Wen, I know the next climb is a bugger. It’s lonely here, I’ve had no one around me for a few kilometres. This is the first walk I’ve had, it’s steep though and my legs are cramping in my calves and my abductors. I take moving slower as an opportunity to bang in some TORQ gel, some water and mentally commit to running everything but 500m to the finish.
I reach the forest track the heads down to Glasdir. I have 30 seconds of self talk out loud. I’m going to do this. My watch is showing an average pace of 5:42/km. I know I’m going to have to use all the downhill to get that average pace down.
I do what I can and arrive at the bridge back over the Mawddach with 5:40/km as an average pace. This next climb is the sting in the tail. It’s steep, and late in the course. I settle on walking as fast as I can. There is a struggling runner who is running the half marathon. She’s very emotional, and close on giving up. I try and encourage her between breaths, but she is sat not moving and I was hurting (she did finish later). I get to the top of the steep bit, try and run but my legs are now cramping hard. I can only just manage a shuffle over walking pace on any ascent. As it flattens out I build the pace, but my average pace has slipped too far on the climb. I know I’ve missed 4 hours.
The run in to the finish is really flattering. It’s downhill, not steep, but a nice gradient to actually run quite hard.
I cross the line, 43rd overall in 4 hours 5 minutes and 35 seconds. I’ll be back to take those 5 minutes and 36 seconds next year!
I did the Native American War dance getting some trousers back on. Cramping legs were very funny for my daughters to watch me struggle with. My lower leg not bending when I need it to, hopping on one leg trying to balance without putting my foot in the mud.
Apart from a pair of skinned nipples, a sore toenail and some shattered legs the event went really well for me.
I was getting over the disappointment of being over 4 hours. Consoling myself that 43rd overall was ok with the illness I’d had, and my complete lack of experience in racing when I got a message.
Meirionnydd Running Club had won gold in the Welsh Trail Championships (Long). I was part of the team that won. Now, I’m under no illusion that Glyn Griffin and Dave Parker (who placed 5th and 8th) did the lions share of the work. But I won a medal as part of the team. I’ve never won a medal before, let alone a gold one in a Welsh Championships. A massive thanks to Glyn and Dave! It’s also really inspiring that our “little” running club, with two of it’s strongest runners not present at Trail Marathon Wales could see off clubs who have a big reputation. Very proud to be part of the team! It’s an exciting future for the club with the depth of talent we have.
What a week! Great news for the MdS, and personally the lift of winning a medal is nothing less that astounding. I know I can train more, run harder. I’m not at my limit yet. I’m really inspired to try and find it over the next little while.
My next solo event is the Brecon Ultra in November. I might have to have another look through the race calendar though for something sooner.
This week has left me fired up and that is, well, nice (Sorry Teach).
I haven’t enjoyed the last month when its come to training. All my stuff has been looking at the hills and missing getting out.
I’ve spent a bunch of time using the foam roller and doing bits of strength training, but nothing that has got my heart racing. A great family trip to Ireland, relaxed, caught up with family, drank Guiness, visited new places, and met some new people- well done to Aisling Schmidt for winning the Sligo Rose last weekend and good luck on the road to Tralee (in a Toyota Prius!).
Not knowing whether I’d healed made me nervous about putting stress on my calf, I really didn’t want to go backwards.
I tentatively went for a short run in the middle of last week and felt no pain. I’ve been wanting to put a little video together of trail running. Firstly to promote the opportunities and also as a bit of a show reel to use when getting sponsorship for Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund. So, Saturday morning I went to walk the trail I wanted to capture. The dog had a great walk, and I looked at the trail in a way I hadn’t before. Sunday morning came and I laced my trail shoes on for the first time in a while and set off with a small video camera and a tripod. Then for the next two and a half hours I ran, stopped set up the camera, ran back or ran on, ran back to the camera, packed up and ran on. I’ve not done much film making, but I am really happy with the results.
I’ve had a few comments about my Benny Hill moments and trying to push the van over, it’s good feedback. I actually really enjoyed making the clips and so will try and take on the comments and do some more. There are so many varied trail/hill runs around Dolgellau, all with a different feel, I’m going to try and catch some more of why I run.