Just one of 36,000 runners I stood still, finger poised on my stopwatch, start line in view, PA blaring and the 10km course ahead of me. I paused for a moment to remember why I was running. I was running for the millions in our world whose day to day existence is in many cases a miracle. I was running for the poverty-stricken, the hungry, the downtrodden, the dying and the desperate.
A great roar and the final wave of runners were off. Thousands of runners representing a host of different charities jogged, sprinted or just walked into the journey.
The day had started with a rush through Manchester negotiating the road closures to make it in time for my wave warm up. Before the warm up there was just time to queue for 10 minutes to use the porta-loos. The exercises began and everyone was soon warmed up despite the cool breeze. The warm up was more a glorified dance routine with plenty of hands waving high in the sky and twists and squats to the beat.
On the course everything felt good – my limited training was a blessing in disguise. I always wondered whether the crowd cheering you on really did make a difference to runners in events like these. Now I know they DO make an incredible difference. No matter which charity supporters are cheering for their encouragements are confidence and energy boosting.
I reached the 5km after 30 minutes of fairly gentle jogging – good progress. We were soon treated to water bottles and the luxury of an elongated gazebo spurting cool jets of water. I declined the showers as not to ruin my CAFOD-inspired green hairdo.
As the kilometres ticked by the support grew stronger as did my will to get over the finishing line before the hour mark. We jogged past various landmarks including Manchester United’s Old Trafford which was given a mixed reception by runners!
After passing the 8km mark with just my feet rubbing for discomfort I thought back to the millions who face unthinkable hardships everyday. This thought, along with my personal desire to get a sub-60 minute time, re-doubled my efforts and I stepped on the gas.
In the last kilometre, having been through three bottles of water, I needed an extra push to the line. No it didn’t come from the free jelly baby sweet handed out by the race marshals. It came from the CAFOD supporters who shouted for me and in response my legs jolted forward at an even greater pace than I could imagine. And there it was, the finishing line. In true professional fashion I lifted my hands to the sky in triumph as I crossed the line in just under 57 minutes. Brilliant!
Back in the charity village with CAFOD staff there was a sense of satisfaction and achievement. Food and drinks were gratefully consumed.
But now comes the important part. Sponsorship money for CAFOD. For all those struggling in our world who are being supported by CAFOD in countries throughout the world. It is those people that events like these are all about.