If you’ve visited my blog before you’ll maybe be aware that I’m attempting to run 18 half marathons this year (#18in18). To many experienced runners, it might not sound a big deal but to me it’s potentially quite an undertaking.
So far I’ve done seven out of the 18. I’m over one-third of the way there but that still means I’ve got another 11 to go … and all before the middle of October when I hope to end the series at the Royal Parks Half.
Number eight on my list is Swansea on June 24th. It has been voted the UKs favourite half marathon for the past two years so I’m particularly looking forward to this one.
It also comes hard on the heels of Lisburn on Wednesday night, during which I unexpectedly set a new personal best!
Two races in four days! Am I mad?
But, to date, the challenge has been going well. I completed my sixth race earlier this month in Lacock, a picturesque little village deep in the heart of Wiltshire and sometime film location for the likes of Harry Potter and Downton Abbey.
Anyone new to this might be wondering what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and so on. Hopefully the following will answer some questions:-
What is #18in18?
I’m running 18 half marathons in 2018. Why 18 though? It’s 2018, so 18 seemed to be an appropriate figure. 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.
So, I thought, why not go public with this challenge and use it to help or inspire others in a similar position?
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.” … I’m running for people who think they can’t.
Am I doing it for charity?
Not primarily but I would also 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
What races am I doing?
It all started in early March with The Big Half in London, and ends with the Royal Parks Half in October. But it’s not 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.
For example, my second race was the Larne Half Marathon, my third was a virtual run around my hometown with number four comng on VLM day when I swapped Greenwich Park for Greenisland Golf Club.
Number five took me back to London to the state of the art facilities of the Olympic Park whilst the sixth, in stark contrast to that, centred on the aforementioned village of Lacock and all its history and scenery.
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 starting to fill up a little now but I still have lots of races potentially pencilled in that I could do 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.
For the record, my list looks like this but it is very much subject to change (those in bold are either completed or booked):-
- The Big Half (London) – 4th March 2018
- Larne Half Marathon – 24th March 2018
- Reading Half Marathon (Virtual) – 15th April 2018
- East Antrim Marathon Series #NotTheLondonMarathon – 22nd April 2018
- Lee Valley VeloPark Half Marathon (London) – 26th May 2018
- Lacock Half Marathon – 10th June 2018
- Lisburn Half Marathon – 20th June 2018
- Swansea Half Marathon – 24th June 2018
- Bath Two Tunnels Half – 8th July 2018
- Dark Hedges Half Marathon – 22nd July 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
- Waterside Half Marathon – 2nd September 2018
- Chippenham Half Marathon – 9th September 2018
- Belfast City Half Marathon – 23rd September 2018
- Great Scottish Run (Glasgow) – 30th September 2018
- Royal Parks Half (London) – 14th October 2018
All I ask of you is to follow my progress, read my blogs, offer your support, make a donation to Diabetes UK if you like. 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.
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!!!
The story so far:-
Relive the Big Half – Blog
Relive the Larne Half – Blog
Relive the Virtual Reading Half – Blog
Relive the #NotTheLondonMarathon – Blog
Relive the Lee Valley VeloPark Half Marathon – Blog
Relive the Lacock Half Marathon – Blog