I feel the time is right to discuss why it is I am competing in the Great North Run this year, for my chosen charity, the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association. I previously discussed my ambitions when I first started this site, but as I’m only now taking talking about running and experiencing running more seriously than ever before, now is the right time to go into it all again.
As it happens, today is exactly one year since my mother died. She was diagnosed with motor neurone disease about 20 months before she died. In one sense, she at least beat the statistic that half of all diagnosed with MND die within 14 months of diagnosis. But such stats feel meaningless when such a monumental part of your life is taken away, particularly when you feel powerless to prevent the inevitable. The MND Association were there for her every step of the way, even beyond her death. My mum took part in clinical research with one of the country’s leading researchers into the disease, and her life was made much more positive for the support the charity provided her with.
I really wanted to give something back to the charity. I used to view charity, at times, quite cynically – there’s only so many times you can stomach, particularly when they start coming towards you in the street or when they further try to up the pressure by coming right to your front door. I hardly have any money any more, so I’ll be damned if I’m going to be cohersed by you. But the MND Association I have plenty of time for, and always will.
It was my birthday exactly four weeks later, and it happened to be the closing ceremony of the London Paralympic Games. I’d followed both the Olympics and Paralympics ardently, and although I wasn’t even in spitting distance of Olympic Park, I was whipped up into the party the nation seemed to be having. As the dramatic music that accompanied the steampunks as they made their entrance played on, an explosive wave of grief suddenly hit, like some form of trigger on a gun waiting to go off in my head. I’d held it together for weeks.
Quickly resolving myself, I just knew I had to go through with the promise of honouring my mother and giving back to the charity that aided her so well. It was either a charity rock gig at my local rock venue, or running. And given I know jack about organising a gig, I decided that it was to be running. It quickly dawned on me, as Coldplay warbled through their set, that I was going to do the Great North Run. My grandfather – whom I never met, having died the year before my birth, and also diagnosed with MND – was from Newcastle, and my mother often informed me of many tales of him from his time serving in World War II, to his thick Geordie accent. Indeed, my mother switched allegiance to football clubs numerous times over the course of her life, finally settling on Newcastle United. I’d often plotted and discussed going to Newcastle with my wife but the opportunity never presented itself. And so it was written. I began training for the Bradford City Run a few weeks after my birthday and after that race I decided I was in this for the long haul. Sunday September 15th – destiny awaited.
All sorts has passed since then, from encouragement, to trepidation, injury to recovery, rigid discipline to overt defiance. But what it all comes down to is this…
As this post goes live, it will be just under five weeks until the 2013 Bupa Great North Run. My confidence is at an all time high as a runner, and as the date approaches I’m not only looking forward to racing in memory of my mother, not only looking forward to pulling on the royal blue, white and orange of the charity, and not only am I looking forward to competing and enjoying the Great North Run; I’m looking forward to achieving that destiny. My eyes have been set on this date for almost a year. Its time to shine.
There is a link at the top left of this page asking people to support my fundraising for the MND Association. My employers are matching everything raised up to £500 so as it stands, I’m about halfway there. If anyone reading would like to donate, please head over there now or text PCLG84 £AMOUNT (min £1) to 70070. Even just sharing this post or even just reading it is much appreciated too though. Thank you all very much for reading.