Ever since I was in school people have told me I look like a long distance runner. Tall, with skinny legs and pretty bad at most other sports I think they were trying to stop me giving up sport altogether, “You’ve for the perfect physique for long distance running my boy,” the PE teacher would say (ignoring the fact I would finish near the back of cross country running each week).
Well that’s great and maybe these memories were in the forefront of my mind when I decided to enter in to the Paris Marathon back in October. I boldly signed up, giving myself a pat on the back thinking “how hard can this actually be?”. Well, whenever I go out for a training run it really, really hurts. Out of breathe, heart pumping and legs aching, I certainly don’t feel like a long distance runner. Those Olympic athletes make it look a lot easier than it really is!
So why am I putting myself through this? Surely it would be easier to just cheer on others from the sidelines, sponsoring the many friends I have who are running the Brighton and London marathons this year for some great causes.
One reason is ego. I want to be one of those people that can saunter in to a conversation about running and drop in that they’ve done a marathon (a foreign one at that!). A marathon is one of those “great” achievements that, in actual fact, pretty much anyone can do if they really put their mind to it. Also, I’ve been to watch the last few London marathons and the atmosphere on each occasion has been fantastic and whilst it has been great cheering people on I want to be on the other side of the fence seeing what it’s like from that perspective.
However, the main reason is that I’m putting myself through this is that I want to do some serious fundraising for KickStart Ghana, a charity I co-founded and help run. KickStart Ghana is a charity that aims to ensure that the people of the Volta Region, in Ghana, can fulfil their potential and have every opportunity to succeed. We focus on the promotion of education and sport to do this. We strongly believe that young people in Ghana should get the same opportunities as young people in the UK. Attending a school that doesn’t flood when it rains or being able to play in the local football team and pretend you’re the new Michael Essien. Small things that you and I would take for granted when growing up.
The year leading up to May 2012 was our most successful year in terms on fundraising, we reached just over £18,000. Now in England that wouldn’t even pay for one teacher’s annual salary, but we were really pleased with our achievements in Ghana. Some of those included: extensive renovation work on a local school (the first since it opened almost 30 years ago), supporting a football club with five teams (four men’s and one women’s), providing a new water tank for a local children’s home to ensure a consistent supply of clean water and providing funds for new volleyball posts for a local school. We’ve also invested significantly in the local economy supporting our volunteers. Not bad eh?
I want to make sure that KickStart Ghana can continue doing this work well in to the future. My fundraising target is a £1000. I (somehow) have 455 “friends” on Facebook and if they were to each donate £2 each I’d pretty much be there. So if you’re reading this and think “I can donate a few pounds” then I’d really appreciate it if you visited my Charity Giving webpage and did just that.
Then all I have to do is actually complete it…