Diary of a novice runner – the Great North Run 2009

Meet the professionals: Gemma Boys, Patrick Gardner and Francesca Hoyle

Meet the professionals: Gemma Boys, Patrick Gardner and Francesca Hoyle

Hello, Patrick Gardner here.  It is six months since I joined the staff of CAFOD and I have to say I am thoroughly enjoying the role of Diocesan Officer. I am meeting so many enthusiastic people who want to make a difference.

So  why did I sign up to take part in this year’s Great North Run?
After some encouragement (or was that coercion?), I began to actually think that I could do this, and what a great cause. I took part in a 5km run about 20 years ago, but apart from the odd jog here and there and occasional lethargic visit to the gym, I’ve not done much running, certainly not of this magnitude.

The training hasn’t been easy, it’s been a shock to the system; running 3 or 4 times a week since early in April, but somehow we’re now at the beginning of September and I’m still on track. There have been many times when I’ve been running and wanted to pack it in, but it has been the cause that has kept me going. Knowing that the money I raise for CAFOD will go to towards building a better world for our brothers and sisters living in poverty has been more than enough motivation to keep me focused. Team CAFOD will be out in full force at the Great North Run and I will be running with two local CAFOD representatives, my training partners Francesca Hoyle and Gemma Boys, who have kept me motivated and on course throughout. A big thank you for your encouragement.

Through my role with CAFOD, I have learned more and more of the terrible plight of some of the world’s poorest communities. I have been involved in speaking to parishes and youth groups in the diocese about CAFOD’s current climate justice campaign. This has shown me how the poorest communities are struggling to come to terms with droughts, floods, and lack of basic resources. One such community is in Northern Kenya where a lady called Nkutayo Lenatuwaki lives. Nkutayo walks a gruelling 15km on a daily basis to fetch water and fuel for her family. It takes six hours of her day. The drought of 2006 pushed her to the limit.

She states, “Since I’ve grown up, I’ve seen rains reducing which means there is more famine and less food. Sometimes my children sleep hungry. We have a hunger problem, a water problem, we’re facing lots of problems here. We’re disturbed in our minds by problem, problem, problem.”

CAFOD works with the local Diocese of Marsabit in Kenya to help people find alternative ways of making a living. This way they become less dependent on livestock and less vulnerable to drought. They have also built a tank to store water nearer to where Nkutayo and her community live. These seem simple solutions to all of us who have running water readily available, but to the people of Northern Kenya this is good news and has changed lives. This is just one such example of how CAFOD, through its local partners, seeks to work to build a better world for people living in extreme poverty.

The money I raise by completing the Great North Run on Sunday 20th September will enable CAFOD to continue to make a difference to the lives of ordinary, good people, like Nkutayo.

I wish all the Great North Runners from Lancaster Diocese an enjoyable run and injury free day. I am sure that the buzz from the thousands of runners on the day will keep us going. I feel privileged to be running for CAFOD, and come Race Day I will feel part of a much bigger team, all working together, knowing that in our own way and through our own experiences, we have been able to support our partners as they walk alongside our brothers and sisters in the global south. That is what it’s all about, solidarity with others.

I want to thank all those who have sponsored me, encouraged me, motivated me and yes, above all, listened to me moaning about the gruelling training schedule. Seriously, without that support, I would not be standing on the starting line.

Will there be more races after this?
Let’s take one race at a time. The mind says yes but the body is currently disputing this. I am hoping to raise £1,000 in this race and am on course to do this. My target time is 2 hours 15 minutes, but my “coach” says that with the right conditions, and remaining injury free it is possible for a sub 2 hour time – but that would be ambitious. To finish is my personal aim.

If you would like to sponsor Patrick, you can do so through his Justgiving page online at www.justgiving.com/patrickgardner

One thought on “Diary of a novice runner – the Great North Run 2009

  1. Hi Patrick,

    Just stumbled across your article and wanted to say good luck for the GNR. I’m doing it for the very first time this year having never completed anything over 10k. I’m so looking forward to the experience. I would like to say “see you there” but with 54,000 runners, probably not!!!

    Hope you have a good run.

    Take care

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