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A LINE Team, Help for Heroes and the Sheffield Half Marathon

This blog first appeared on the LINE website on June 8th 2011

Charlotte Marshall, Defence Business Development and Support Manager, reports on the Sheffield Half Marathon and raising money for Help for Heroes.

Have you ever stood on a running track at 8am on a Sunday morning with the daunting prospect of running 13.1 miles and asked yourself, ‘Why aren’t I in bed?’ Well, a LINE team, consisting of Keith Downes, Ed Lines, and myself accompanied by Keith’s daughter Julia Downes and Geoff Draper (ex Colonel) were doing just that on Sunday 8th May. The reason we were gathered at the Don Valley running track, stretching limbs and adjusting attractive sweatbands as opposed to counting sheep was to raise money for a fantastic charity – Help for Heroes.

For those of you who are not familiar with Help for Heroes or their work, they are a charity who raises money to support members of the Armed Forces who have been wounded while serving their country. Millions of pounds have already been raised to fund direct projects and support other service charities, but more is always needed – this was our motivation.

Stadium Help for heroes

So the starting pistol was fired (I barely heard it from my position at the back of the pack) and we were off. Crossing the start line, already breathing hard, I remember thinking how misleading it was for the organisers to refer to it as a ‘race’. ‘Racing’ wasn’t on my agenda – ‘surviving’ was however. Running out of the stadium, looking très attractive in our Help for Heroes t-shirts and dodging over-zealous elbows we were on our way to Half Marathon glory. The running conditions were acceptable, a little hot and windy at points but at least not raining (as the Met Office had predicted).

Sheffield, like Rome was built on seven hills and luckily for us the Half Marathon route was as flat as you can get (for Sheffield), although the jog up Cemetery Road was a little challenging. The half way point was at Ecclesall Road, a lively spot in Sheffield, cluttered with restaurants, coffee bars and public houses and coincidentally where our supporters would be conveniently congregating. Sure enough our ‘fans’ were dotted around Hunters Bar, armed with lattes, expressions of pity mixed with relief, and dry brows. Their cries of encouragement and cheers spurred me on as I lolloped past resembling something from a horror movie with just a tiny 6 miles still to go. Even so, by that point you know you’re on your way back to the finish line, and that keeps you going.

So the miles racked up; I was overtaken by Scooby Doo at mile 9 and by mile 10 I was trying to focus on what didn’t hurt – like my little finger on my right hand. Incidentally this gave up a mile later.

Passing the ‘Mile 11 sign, the road littered with yellow sponges and single use plastic cups, there were only 2.1 miles to go, and continuing on, the stadium (and more importantly, the finish line) loomed in the distance. I wondered how my fellow LINE runners were getting on and I mused that they were probably already finished and back at Ecclesall Road in a suitable winery waiting for me. A final push for the last mile and I entered the stadium with an individual in a Pink Panther costume close on my tail. My face pained with determination to not be beaten by Scooby Doo and the Pink Panther in the same day I ran over the finish line with my arms in the air.

Post marathon Help for Heroes

We re-hydrated with our dedicated supporters in the Porters Brook back at Ecclesall Road with an immense feeling of achievement, relief and pride in having completed the distance and having raised over £1500 for Help for Heroes. It was a fantastic achievement for everyone who participated and special congratulations to my co-runners who all finished in brilliant times. Finally, thank you to all those who sponsored us and gave up their Sunday to come out to support us. I know every penny is appreciated by Help for Heroes and that it will go to help our wounded and their families.

So what next – a Full Marathon? I’ll come back to you on that one.