I’ve started this post about five times and deleted and restarted again. It seems like there needs to be some trumpets playing and ticker tape floating down from confetti cannons somewhere as I write! A final post!
Yesterday was the last challenge of our #12challengesin12months. 2017. Our year of madness, fundraising, 40th birthdays and friendship. Not for one minute when we started this little project did we think it would snowball into such a momentous thing for us both. And I mean momentous for many reasons….
Lets start with yesterday! The Chandlers Ford Community Running Group Santa run! I volunteered earlier in the year to organise the inaugural CFCRG Christmas run! Mainly because we’ve taken so much from this amazing group over the course of the last 6 months and feel like we haven’t given as much back to the group as we would have liked. We’ve led a run once and needed to put ourselves forward to contribute more.
We’re an extremely social bunch of runners and the general consensus was that a fancy dress pub crawl would be the order of the day. The date was set and I planned the route between the pubs in the area – dropping them an emails and coinciding it with a Michael Buble tribute Christmas carols singer at the last pub we would end up. I emailed the press and put the word out that there would be running Santas on the loose!!
So yesterday – a grotty, damp Sunday morning (after a nightshift!) we met at one of the pubs in the centre of Chandlers Ford. Last count, I think there were 32 runners in various stages of Christmas fancy dress – santas, elves, hats, beards, Christmas onesies, jumpers and of course trainers! Off we went! The drizzle cleared up, people cheered and cars beeped.
Now, I’m not an emotional person. Not one of the sort of heart on the sleeve types but I must admit, to see several dozen of our running friends, comrades and buddies pounding the local streets all in fancy dress was a sight to behold and I had a lump in my throat. One of our injured runners was pushed around in a wheelchair while another of our crocked team followed on her bike. Each pub we stopped at, 6 in total, welcomed us with a smile and we had a drink or two before moving on.
In the Hiltonbury farmhouse, it was so wonderful to meet the ladies behind the Murray Parish trust. These are ladies with whom I have corresponded all year and never actually met. Of course, they got sweaty, smelly Santa and elf hugs from us and we had a chat and we were able to thank them in person for all their support. I know Steve and I will continue to promote The Murray Parish trust and will support them where we can over the coming months until their dream is realised and their target is reached.
Ending up at the last pub where partners, husbands, wives and kids all joined CFCRG to celebrate. At one point in the evening, I sat and looked at everyone enjoying themselves, drinks in hands with Christmas decorations, merriment and festivity all round and I pinched myself to remind me how lucky we were to be here. The culmination of our journey.
At the beginning of the year, we ran on our own. We weren’t part of a group and had only ever run with others at organised and paid for events. We had very few running friends or buddies so we ran just with each other and mostly at night. Joining a local group has given us so much more than people to simply run with. At the risk of being soppy, we have benefitted from support, encouragement, friendship, gossip and endless amounts of joy and fun. It was an absolute pleasure to complete our year of events with the awesome friends we have made – who we have supported during runs and who have supported us throughout. Last night, at the end of the run and without a drop of alcohol in my body, I can truly say I loved them all! #CFCRG17
And what made it all a little bit more emotional was the fact that this was the last event we had lined up for our year of challenges. At the beginning of the year, this hairbrained idea took shape and we never could have imagined how it would have turned out. We travelled all over the world. We ran in Winchester, Southampton, Coventry, Warwick, Kenilworth, Exeter, Bath, Stoke on Trent, The New Forest, Devon, Las Vegas and New York (and me in Krakow). We ran in temperatures between -4 and 34c and all between. We ran up hills, on roads, beaches, through forests, rivers, ice, mud and deserts. Through cities, towns, down lanes and along highways. We have walked, jogged, ran, sprinted, cycled, swam and kayaked. For a birthday that most people want to forget, my 40th year has actually been one of the most memorable of my life.
In the end, we smashed our £1000 fundraising target and as of this second, our total is…. (drum roll please…)….£1244.64!! With gift aid this equates to £1459.39. I’m so proud of us and everyone who sponsored us as it was not something we were expecting in a million years. Steve’s work have given us the forms for matched giving, so after Christmas I shall fill these in and send them off and hopefully they will donate another £1244.64 making our total £2489.28 for the specular Murray Parish trust – who are a few quid off their first million!! www.mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/holfords
There are people who I feel need some acknowledgement, or as Strava would say – kudos – throughout the process. Everyone who sponsored us and listened to us harp on and on (and on) about what we were up to and endured the endless running photos we have exhibited (much to their boredom). To all our CFCRG buddies who have been epic and stuck to the support ethos of the group in cheering us on and sponsoring us . To all the guys from the Murray Parish trust for all their support, particularly Dominique who has become one of the people I emailed most this year! And last but not least, to my amazing, wonderful husband who agreed to go along with this mad idea last Christmas and has stuck by my side in every challenge – even when he wanted to go faster. Even when the lads ribbed him because he came in last due to sticking with me! For shouting encouragement at me up hills where I wanted to stop. For dragging me out running on nights I wanted to sit and watch TV and eat chocolate. For buying me new trainers when my old ones bottomed out. For grabbing my hand and pulling me towards the finish line when I couldn’t run any more and I swore (repeatedly) at him. #TeamHolfords. Until running wears out our joints and we can only get round with zimmer frames and incontinence pants. Love you x