Well, we are done, and the sum total of our fundraising for the Brooke has bought in £650 (or nearly £770 with GiftAid!) which has blown me away somewhat since I thought I would probably manage about 200 quid even with a good bit of shameless self-promotion and random JJ being naughty pics!
People’s generosity was remarkable and it has to be said that the fundraising proved to be almost as entertaining as the race itself, with my OCD asserting itself late on and various mates variously contributing to round up the total raised to a tidy figure…and others then donating 79p or other evil unbalanced numbers to disrupt the balance of the total (and the universe) yet again. I thought we were doomed actually. but The Brooke has been adopted as the official charity of Team Mick Karn and TMK Pen managed a literal last second donation from Peter and from badge sales over the last week, in memory of Mick–I think it went through just a millisecond before the official fundraising page closed, but it also rounded the figure up to £650 so the universe is now back in balance and I am getting stressed about people who hang up their headcollars on the wrong peg in the tackroom instead. I mean, really. Still, what an amazing total–I can’t thank everyone who contributed, with money, time, and lots of help promoting the run, though I should have emailed you with even more thanks by now 🙂
The race itself was quite fabulous. Having been injured out of the Royal Parks Half twice before, I was pretty astonished that I managed to get to London the night before without getting myself killed (I had been forbidden to do anything involving riding horses or motorbikes for the week before!) and I managed to stick to my Race Plan (turn up without too bad a hangover being step 1) because a couple of pints of cider in the hotel bar came to fifteen quid and that nearly choked me. (In my defence, Ron Hill, who has got to be one of the greatest runners of all time, reckoned you should never have more than a couple of pints the night before a major race anyway, and if it’s good enough for him, it’s OK for me. I can only assume he never made a habit of drinking in London though). I went back to my room and amused myself writing the names of all my sponsors on the back of my shirt. This amused my son no end since he had identified himself as MISCHA SMELLS on the fundraising page and needless to say he had already written something similar on the shirt, which was much commented on the next morning.
The next morning though, disaster nearly struck when I woke up at 6am with a migraine..however I had decided by then that short of being actually properly dead, I was doing the race, so I abandoned all thoughts of finishing in the planned 2 hours, drafted up a survival plan, checked where the St John’s Ambulance points were, drugged myself up to the eyeballs and feeling rather spaced out and queasy, headed for Hyde Park. Helpfully all the tube stations adjacent to Hyde Park were closed, so a mad warm-up dash following a crowd of runners following a chap in a full Batman costume ensued, in which I learned that running in minimalist barefoot shoes over cobbles is awkward. But the headache had gone by the time we arrived at The Brooke tent to have pictures taken, so I reckoned I would probably survive.
And I did, by dint of trotting along cheerfully and when the flashing lights came back at miles 6 and 10, by walking until I could see where I was going again. In actual fact, just jogging along was a jolly good way to run a race. I got to talk to folks, admire the carefully manicured trees (it is a bit wilder here in the Clocaenog), the extremely fat squirrels, the bizarrely gingerbready cottages that dot the park. I saw a horse (and was grateful once more that JJ was at home, since I can assume he would have had something to say about it). got confused and spoke to an interested dog in Welsh, and coveted the gallops (which JJ would have probably approved of). 13 miles passed in no time actually, and I think it was probably the best and happiest run I’ve ever done (possibly because there were a lot of things to look at, and also, we got to run over Westminster Bridge which for some reason was wildly cool).
Spotting other Brooke runners was also extremely good–there were 26 of us in the end, all in orange and we definitely had the loudest cheer team too 🙂 I’m not sure what the final total raised is yet, but it was well over 16k at last count. I will say one thing, if you want to run a half for charity, the Royal Parks really ought to be the one you go for. It’s not hugely competitive, not least because almost everyone in the mid pack of ordinary runners is fundraising. Even people who were clearly NOT runners by choice were running, often rather well, to raise money for pretty much every charity you could think of. Battersea Dogs’ Home, various cancer charities, many in memory of relatives who hadn’t made it. ‘I am running because my Dad can’t anymore,’ said one shirt. Another girl was raising money for Great Ormond Street, in memory of her baby daughter, whose picture was printed on her shirt. I sniffled my way round miles 7-9 I think. Everybody had a story, everybody had something to say. The chap who I ended up running next to for a bit, who was wearing the (really rather good) Royal Parks shirt you are given before the race, said he was doing it because he needed to lose seven stone and had lost four training, but that he felt a bit left out so was going to do the race as a charity run next year (‘By which time I’ll be thinner and I’ll break two hours if it kills me,’ he added, which is something I can heartily sympathise with). I didn’t see Batman, apparently he came in a few minutes behind me, still in his full rubber suit, presumably a bit cooked, but the spectators were great and very encouraging, and if you look a bit loud–which I was, in orange with pink hair and my name on my shirt–people do shout lots of encouragement. I’d have loved to hear what they said to Batman though.
The Royal Parks is definitely the best organised race I’ve ever done–we were very well fed at the end with Bounce Balls and bananas, more offerings of water and Lucozade, and the most enthusiastic volunteers I’ve ever met handing out the rather excellent wooden race medals to us sweaty folk in various stages of banana-clutching exhaustion. I’m afraid I felt perfectly fine in the circumstances, but I’m putting that down to running in the barefoot shoes with proper biomechanics, and not slamming down heel first, rather than the fact I had spent the previous hours trotting along chatting and not, as my much hated old PE teacher would have said, ‘putting any backbone into it.’ But I shouldn’t think the donkeys will care very much (plus I got to mooch round London, visit the Tower, and stroll along the South Bank later on without actually being in agony) 😀
Back with Emma at the Brooke tent, and we were fed rather well again actually, with protein bars and coconut water. and I picked up my Other Half who had been my pack donkey for the day, and had been looked after rather well by The Brooke as a result. I was grateful for that actually since I was convinced he was probably going to get bored and go to sleep on a park bench somewhere and be arrested for vagrancy, but actually he had been t-shirted and recruited on to the Cheer Team, which meant he managed to take photos as well, though not of Batman.
Needless to say JJ the Quarter Horse was terribly badly behaved in my absence, and in between being vile to everybody, human and equine alike, apparently was standing by the gate looking for me. I am pretty sure he wouldn’t have been any better behaved in Hyde Park though, and the aftereffect of taking your horse running is now that he thinks he can bomb about at trot everywhere, often leaving me hanging onto his tail as he buggers off, or just hanging on if I happen to be sitting on him. Since I didn’t think he’d live to see this winter though, I’m not complaining: I’m grateful that he is still around to have done his bit raising some funds for other equines who need help.
And help it will. So–a round of applause for TMK, Peter, Pen, Mel, Sue, Daisy, Phoenix, Becka, Matti, Craig, Adam, Angie, Sam, Emma, Houdah, Leanne, Kate, Victoria, Natalie, Jenny, Nessie, Guilia, Simon, Magda, Rohan aka MISCHA SMELLS, Dani, Catrin, Freyr and Eldar, Yann, Louise and Flynn, Phillipa, Jen, Dana, Annette and Telyn, Lucy at The Saddlery Shop, Jill, Lorraine, Julie, Chris, Ann-Marie, and the totally anonymous person who I failed to track down despite the best in OCD detective work. Maybe it was Batman. Our thanks to you in Britain, Finland, Texas, and New York, from us in Wales and a lot of donkeys in India, Africa, and South America 😀