Earlier this month I kicked off a little project I’ve been thinking about and working on for a while now … a personal challenge to run 18 half marathons in 2018, and to hopefully inspire others who don’t think they can run.
Why 18 though? It’s 2018, so 18 seemed to be an appropriate figure. Plus, I don’t think I’m fit enough to run any more than that!
Why do it?
Lots of reasons. The idea initially came to me when I missed out on a ballot place for the London Marathon. In the past, training for the marathon has helped keep me running and active but, without that to motivate me, I knew I needed something to maintain my focus not only during ‘marathon season’ but throughout the entire year.
Then I thought about it a bit more.
I don’t know if I can do this. Yes, I *think* I can, and I’m confident (at the minute) that I can but I know it will be a real challenge. I’ve got Type 2 Diabetes and other unrelated health problems, I’m carrying too much weight and you’ll always find me trundling along at the back of a race. I’m not an athlete. I’m just an ordinary bloke from Northern Ireland trying to do something to better himself.
I’ve looked at, admired and taken advice from initiatives such as ThisGirlCan, Run Mummy Run and Julie Creffield’s ‘Too Fat To Run’ but there’s nothing like that targeted at men, not that I’ve found anyway.
So, I thought, why not go public with this challenge and use it to help or inspire others in a similar position? That said, I am at pains to emphasise this isn’t just a men only project, it’s open to absolutely everyone. I don’t care if you’re male, female, alien or mountain goat.
A lot of us have thought about running and duly dismissed it. “I’d be too slow, I’d be laughed at if anyone saw me, I’d finish last, I’m too fat, I’m not fit …”. I’ve heard them all and I’ve used them all.
I’m not for a moment suggesting that anyone reading this drops everything and goes out to run a marathon or half marathon or anything like that. But, if I can inspire even one person to take up running regardless of how far or how fast then it’ll be job done as far as I’m concerned.
I am the dictionary definition of “If I can do it anyone can.” … but, now, I’m running for people who think they can’t.
What races am I doing?
It all started earlier this month with The Big Half in London, and ends with the Royal Parks Half in October.
I set a PB at The Big Half – 2:39:13 – which I was absolutely delighted with, but it also shows that I’m not terribly fast or speedy, which is sort of the point behind my challenge. I’ll never not finish in the last 10-15% of a race, but I will try my best and push myself all the way and I want to, by example, encourage others in a similar position.
Despite starting and finish in the capital my races aren’t all London based, far from it. I live in Northern Ireland so a lot of the races will be at home which is practical for both logistical and, more importantly I guess, financial reasons.
Indeed, my second race this Saturday will be the Larne Half Marathon. I live in the same council area, in Ballymena, so this is almost as local to me as it gets.
I do have hopes to do at least one race in Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland too but we’ll see how that works out. My schedule is pretty much clear, I have lots of potential races but nothing much has been confirmed yet so if there’s a race local to you that you think I should do I’d welcome your suggestions.
The following is a list I’m looking at but, as I said, it’s very fluid and could well change as the year progresses apart from those in bold.
- The Big Half (London) – 4th March 2018 – COMPLETED
- Larne Half Marathon – 24th March 2018
- Omagh Half Marathon – 7th April 2018
- Glenarm Castle Challenge – 14th April 2018
- Newry Half Marathon – 27th May 2018
- Lisburn Half Marathon – 20th June 2018
- Swansea Half Marathon – 24th June 2018
- Ards Half Marathon – 29th June 2018
- Bath Two Tunnels Half – 8th July 2018
- Cookstown Half Marathon – 22nd July 2018
- Kells & Connor Half Marathon – 4th August 2018
- Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon – 12th August 2018
- Dambusters Half Marathon – 18th August 2018
- The 401 Challenge Festival of Running Virtual Half – 25th August 2018
- Chippenham Half Marathon – 9th September 2018
- Belfast City Half Marathon – 23rd September 2018
- Great Scottish Run – 30th September 2018
- Royal Parks Half – 14th October 2018
What do you need to do?
Nothing, really. Just follow my progress, read my blogs, offer your support. I know I’m being selfish, but I’ll need your backing to complete this.
However, what would really encourage me is hearing your story. Has my challenge inspired you to put your trainers on and go for a run, maybe even for the first time? I’d love to hear from you. Are you already a runner but have suffered from the same doubts and lack of self-belief as me? Any hints or tips? Let me know.
I’m not primarily doing this for charity but I would like to use the challenge to raise something for Diabetes UK.
I ran my first London Marathon for them and since then have received lots of advice and support not only from the charity but from their other runners, and have made some good friends along the way. So I’d like to give something back. I have no set fundraising target, no charity places to pay for, I’m paying for all my races myself and funding my own travel. Everything I raise is going straight to Diabetes UK.
I’m aware that everyone seems to be rattling their virtual collection tins under your nose these days but if you would like to donate something to help Diabetes UK continue their research and support into the condition then I’d be delighted and honoured if you could. No worries if you can’t at the minute, this is a year-long challenge so maybe you could do so further down the line. My JustGiving page is https://www.justgiving.com/18in18
But, please, keep tabs on my progress and keep in touch. Hopefully it’ll be fun and interesting and, for me, not too sore on my old body!!!