What others have done
Greenwich Park. The atmosphere at the start was electric. If only the daily commuters on the M25 could be as cordial as those 30,000 runners lining up in Greenwich Park. Everyone was talking to complete strangers as if they were old friends, although I did almost commit a rather embarrassing faux pas by nearly throwing my old water bottle into, what I thought was a novelty bin, but turned out to be a fancy dress costume in the shape of the Gherkin!
I ran the first 8 or 9 miles with my cousin. We don’t see much of each other, so it was a special time. The support from the crowd was superb, I wondered how the crowds towards the end could beat it, but wow.. did they beat it in style.
I knew that I had a long way to go before I would see my family. My wife and son were stationed at mile 14, which meant that they could also see me at mile 21. It was an amazing lift to see my son proudly spurring me on (it’s normally the other way around). After very brief hugs, it was onto the Isle of Dogs, but we hit a bottle neck caused by “The Lady With The Hula Hoop”. As good as her intentions were, everyone was too frightened to overtake just in case they knocked her hoop (if she stopped, did she have to go back to the beginning?).
Mile 16, disaster – a “pedestrian” decided to walk just where I needed to run, I jumped onto the kerb to miss them and came down onto a water bottle, and what started as a twinge ended with a rather swollen knee.
Mile 18, Things were starting to hurt, the knee was getting worse and cramp in both calves, but it was great to get some team support (thanks to whoever gave me the orange).
Mile 20, I was told by a friend to imagine mile 20 as halfway - wrong!!!! Mile 25 is about right.
Mile 21, family soon. This time I was expecting Wife, Son, Mother, Brother, Mother-in-Law, Father-In-Law, and knowing my lot there were going to be marching bands, a picnic and a firework display. With about half a mile to go, my head had dropped and my pace had slowed, people were walking, more and more were stopping to stretch, but the crowds didn’t quit supporting us.
Having said that, and, not that I’m ungrateful, but it would appear that for most of the marathon, the bloke behind me was also called Neil, so when the crowd shouted “go on Neil, you can do it” I didn’t know if they were talking to me or him.
No family at mile 21! We had always agreed that If Henry wasn’t happy or the crowds got too much, that they should jump on the train and I would see them at home…. But I didn’t actually mean it! So no marching band, no picnic and no fireworks!
Now I am sure that I found ”The Wall” on Southend seafront, well they only went and moved it to Tower Hill! (It must have been a planning issue). I hit it with true style, the knee, the calves, the ribs (rib injury caused by a rather bony lady at mile 12 who thought she was at the January Sales), and I realised that my jogging pace was the same as the guy next to me who was walking, worse still, I was being overtaken by Mr Tickle, some assorted vegetables a bottle of beer and the cast from the Wizard of Oz. (Beaten by Dorothy and Toto – oh the shame).
Time to call up some help. I looked up to the sky and asked Dad for just a little shove, just a bit of help.
Dad came up trumps, Mile 23 – Wife, Son, Brother, Mum, Mum-in-law and Father-In-Law (no picnic, no marching band and no fireworks, I will discuss that with them later). HUUUGE hugs then the last stretch, how hard can 3.2 miles be?
Now this is where I cheated (and between you and me was just a little bit vain). You know the tunnel as you come out of Upper Thames Street onto the Embankment? I walked it. I figured that as there were no spectators, and all the other runners were in their own world of hurt, only me and my maker would know, so, just before I came out of the tunnel, I stepped back into running mode, I come out a hero and get cheered. Perfect!
Big Ben. I can see it, I know by now that there is no way I am going to achieve my planned time, but I do know that I am going to tick another item on the bucket list. This is where the crowd at Mile 8-9 are made to look like amateurs. I had figured out that if you run the blue line, it’s the shortest distance, but if you need a boost, run as close to the crowd as possible. You might have to run further, but everyone’s your friend and at this part of the course you need friends.
Birdcage Walk, I will always look back on this with mixed emotions, so near, but for one, so very, very far.
800 meters to go, my mind tells me “that’s 5 minutes”, my legs tell me “that’s 50 minutes”. We compromised – 8 minutes
Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s in, just for little old me? The finish line, and perhaps the hardest medal that I have ever achieved.
Now the emotion, then…
The end, but, wow! what a journey.
Great Yorkshire Run
Congratulations to Ian Skirrow on completing the Great Yorkshire Run on 6 September 2009. With wife Nichola and two-week old baby Bethany cheering him on, he has already raised close to £1,600 for The Miscarriage Association. Here he is, looking cool and calm, just before crossing the finish line.
Running the London, 2009
When I decided to run the London Marathon I can honestly say I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. It all started when CRunCH (Charity Runners Clearing House) contacted me and told me that they had a number of charities that still had Golden Bond places available. I can honestly say that only one truly stuck out for me and that was The M.A.. I could not think of a more worthy organisation to run for and accepted without hesitation. My wife had suffered a miscarriage previously so I felt this was something very close to home and believed I could do my little bit to help.
After accepting my place as a Golden Bond entrant the emotions that I felt ranged from pride to dread to excitement. I felt pride because I was going to achieve something very few people ever get the opportunity to do, in fact only 1% of the world’s population will ever run a marathon. The dread was for the fact that I was going to make some massive lifestyle changes including no beer and no take-aways (this was more challenging than you will ever know.). The excitement was for what lay ahead and the new adventures I would have and the new friends I would meet.
Training was tough but the support I received from friends, family and fellow runners was amazing. I kept my supporters up to date with my weekly blog, telling those that were interested about how the training was going and the strange injuries I incurred including nipple-chaffing – this is a serious injury and not to be sniggered at!!!! I lost over 3 ½ stone in weight and gave myself a new lease of life.
The race came around very quickly. I had set myself a target of sub 6 hours and I finished in 5 hours 57 minutes. Crossing the line was an unbelievably emotional feeling and I would encourage anyone who is thinking about running to stop thinking and do it – if I could do it anyone can…
It amazed me the amount of people I have spoken to during my fundraising who have had their lives touched by the misfortune of a miscarriage. I am proud to be able to say that I have raised money for The M.A. and hopefully, in a small way, raised the profile of the organisation.
If anyone watches the Border Force programmes on Sky 1, a new series starts late August and you should see my poster with the M.A. picture on posted all over the place.
Finally I would like to say a big thank you to Ruth and all the team at the M.A. for the support they gave me and the words of encouragement I received. THANK YOU.
Tracey and Dave completed the BUPA Great Yorkshire Run, raising funds for The M.A.
It was a Friday night and after a few rather large glasses of wine and a long hard chat about where do we go from here following my fourth miscarriage, my husband Dave and I decided we needed to do something to help others going through what we were living through.
We had a look on-line to find some way of raising some money for The Miscarriage Association, to thank them in some way for all of the help they have given us. This is when we stumbled across the BUPA Great Yorkshire Run. We signed up there and then and that was it – there was no going back now!
We were happy when our friend Catherine also agreed to do the run with us so I would have a running partner, since I knew Dave would be so much faster than me. And so the training began.
Finally we were counting down the weeks rather than months when I received a phone call from Catherine to say she had broken her leg!
I really didn’t know what to do as I was sure I could not do the run without someone there to push me along and I didn’t want to hold Dave back. At the same time, I really wanted to do the run so I decided I would just take it slow and so long as I finished, that’s what counted.
We continued with our training and I was really happy with the way things were going when tragedy struck. I was coming down stairs when I tripped. After a long wait in A&E I found out that, with less than two weeks to go till the run, I had dislocated my shoulder.
I did a lot of soul-searching in the following days, but once again I decided I really needed to do this run. It had been my focus over the past months and it was a way of getting through the fog of grief I was feeling.
On the morning of the run the sun was out in Sheffield and the atmosphere was fantastic. I had my pink number (the slowest runners!) and Dave had his green number. I watched as Dave started his run and I went to join the other pink numbers. I was feeling very emotional at this point as all I could think about was the babies we had lost and how I was doing this for them – when I saw Dave coming towards me. He told me that he wanted to do the run with me and if it meant we walked it, then so be it.
My wonderful husband ran by my side and helped me along when I felt sure I could not finish and rather amazingly we did the run in just over an hour (1hr 4mins)! In fact, I actually passed the finish line 0.3 of a second before Dave!
It was an amazing feeling to know that we had done something meaningful. We went and celebrated with a pint and a muffin!
My wedding dress hill walk
I decided that I would like to raise some money for The Miscarriage Association after a conversation with my husband, He told me that he had read our local newspaper and came across an article about research into miscarriages. It really touched my heart to hear that work was being done to maybe find out the cause of miscarriages, and it was then that I decided I wanted to help, I wanted to raise some money for The Miscarriage Association. If I could raise enough money, just enough so that one single person had support at the end of a telephone so they didn’t feel so alone, then it would be well worth it!
I wracked my brains for ideas on how I could raise some money, I thought of everything from a sponsored silence to a bath full of beans! I was married to Andrew in 2007 & hadn’t had my wedding dress on since the big day, So that got me thinking, I could wear my dress to do a hill walk to raise money.
So that was it, I contacted the Miscarriage association to tell them my ideas, I e-mailed my friends, family and work colleagues to tell them what I planned to do, I was truly overwhelmed by the amount of response that I received and prayed that It didn’t rain on the date I had set.
On the morning of our walk my husband put on his suit & tie and pulled me into my dress & off we set to Ingram Valley, The rain held off and we set off walking in the hills. The walk itself took us about four hours to complete and was magical, walking through fields & trekking up hills surrounded by cows & sheep was amazing & knowing in my heart that I was doing this for a what we had lost and a very special charity made it even better, It was a struggle at times with my huge dress on but we did it…. I was so proud of what we had done.
On the way home my husband decided that he would like to stop for lunch in a cafÃ©, we got some very strange looks.
So thanks to The Miscarriage Association & your wonderful website that has helped me through some difficult times.
Yours, Laura Gibbon
My hill walk along with this article is dedicated to my Angels. I think of you every day & see you shining with the stars, I will never forget you & maybe one day we’ll meet, but for now its time to say goodbye.
Love you always,
The adventure began back in March when Steven Harris and Benedict Crabbe registered to take part in the Barcelona Bangers car rally, an event held over the weekend of 18th – 20th July. As the name suggests the rally is for cars under the value of £200. Obtaining a car for that price which may get you to Calais is one thing, but ensuring that you make it to Barcelona is another.
Their first mission was to find their chariot, which brings us to the third team member – an old Mondeo with a slipping clutch and dubious brakes. Purchased for the princely sum of £75. Team ‘Bald & Beautiful’ was now complete. After passing its MOT (at the second attempt) and receiving a ‘rally make over’, in the form of go-faster stripes, team name and duck tape to hold the bumper in place the car was ready for the journey.
After leaving the Midlands on Thursday morning Steven and Ben caught the Dover to Calais ferry and prepared for the journey ahead. On the Friday morning, in a car park in Calais, they met up with the other 54 teams taking part in the rally and compared their vehicles. A number of the teams had gone to great lengths to decorate their cars and the rally consisted of; the mystery machine, a police car, a cow and a Volvo disguised as a castle to name but a few.
The first stage of the journey was a gruelling 400 mile drive from Calais to Lyon. It was on this first stage that Steven and Ben realised that working air conditioning would have been a blessing. They considered complaining to where they bought the car but remembered it only had an ‘end of the driveway’ guarantee. After about 6 hours on the road and a couple of rally challenges later they arrived in Lyon. Unfortunately there was no time to relax and enjoy the sites, culture (and beer) that Lyon had to offer, as the next morning bright and early the teams set off for Nice. This was to prove the most testing of the days driving (for both man and machine) as it involved a climb through the Alps. Not a test for most cars, however it took its toll on the Mondeo. Temperatures soared the further south they travelled and the higher they went into the mountains the little Mondeo started to fail. A pit stop for food turned into a pit stop of another kind as Steven and Ben realised that the petrol they could smell (as they sat in a nearby cafÃ©) was the petrol leaking out from their car. On closer inspection oil was also leaking from the engine and they still had the Tour De France mountain route to complete (before the actual cyclists arrived!).
With the spirit of adventure they pushed on further into the mountains and the little Mondeo finally made it to the top to enjoy the magnificent views. The fuel leak had stopped and so they knew not to fill it up above 1/4 tank from that point.
Driving down the Alps was much easier (and quicker) and they finally coasted into the vibrant city of Nice for a much deserved drink.
The next morning the teams gathered to discuss the final run into Barcelona. The route was a nice easy drive along the coast, however with temperatures of over 30 degrees and a car with little oil in the engine, every stop in traffic was a worry as the engine’s temperature gauge went into the red. Still the little Mondeo which had developed a personality of its own soldiered on and rolled into the magnificent city of Barcelona.
A celebratory party was held in Barcelona for all the teams that completed the journey. With medals awarded, a total of £30k raised for various charities and certificates handed out there was only one task left, to scrap the car. You should never leave a member of your team behind but with their flights booked (and having to be back in work the next day) their only option was to take the little Mondeo to the breakers yard for its final journey.
With a sad heart the Mondeo was left behind, but you never know, there maybe a Spanish team driving to Burton on Trent on a Burton Bangers rally….
The Miscarriage Association has been a source of information and support during our recurrent miscarriages. We felt that Steven taking part in the rally would be the ideal way to make a contribution to help others.
The Great North Run
I decided to take my place in the Great North Run after suffering my second miscarriage within a year. It was going to be difficult – I had just 10 weeks to train from scratch, but was determined I could do it.
Things were going well and I was managing 4 runs per week. Then with just 5 weeks to go, disaster struck – 3.5 miles into a 5 mile run I tore my calf muscle. I was gutted but managed to hobble home and get myself to a physio. He thought I might be able to make it but it would be touch and go. I had physio once a week and exercised every day with cycling and lots of ‘hopping’ on my injured leg to build up the muscle. With just 2 weeks to go I was allowed to run again but for just 15 minutes, it was becoming clear that the race would be a struggle
With one week to go I had my final physio session and was told I would be able to run, but very slowly – I was overjoyed, for once my body was not going to beat me.
Andrea FordSo I lined up on Sunday October 5th on the central motorway with 52,000 other runners, crossed my fingers and said a prayer. The weather was good, the atmosphere was fabulous and I was there! It took me 20 minutes to get to the start-line and I set off very steadily, taking everything and everyone in. People were cheering and clapping and shouting my name. It was very emotional. There was music and there were bands around the course and the people of Newcastle kept us all going, offering sweets and drinks along the way.
Around 6 miles, I began to feel a lot of pain in both my knees – my lack of training was kicking in and it hurt! I managed to keep going and decided to take it one mile at a time and if it got too bad I would stop and walk – but would not give in! It was hard work but I managed to keep running and eventually the downhill before the last mile approached – ouch that was painful!
Running along the seafront I finally realised – I was going to complete it, I was actually going to do it. The tears came then, thinking about why I was there, what I was running for and how much it all hurt!
My finishing time was 2:31, the slowest half-marathon I’ve ever run, but probably the most challenging, rewarding and emotional of them all. After the race, one of the nicest things happened. A lady came up, held my hands and said ‘Thank you’. She said she’d run the London Marathon for the Miscarriage Association – it was a really touching moment.
I hope to have raised around £450 for the Miscarriage Association and would like to thank everyone for their support and donations. I know the money raised will help someone deal a little better with the pain of losing a baby.
And he’s raised over £1100 for The M.A. Jay continues:
I’ve completed the Austrian Ironman Triathlon and can now call myself an Ironman. A title I thought was nonsense until I’d done it, but now I’m changing my name by deed poll. It was the hardest physical challenge I’ve ever undertaken but I’m proud to say I completed it faster than expected in a very respectable 11hr 33mins and 36 secs.
The hardest emotional challenge I’ve ever faced was several years ago (pre-Sarah) overcoming the impact of miscarriage. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, I had no idea. That’s why it came as such a shock. I’d like people, male and female, to be more aware of this and more able to talk about it. That’s why I chose to raise money for the Miscarriage Association. They provide timely support and information for those affected by the loss of a baby in pregnancy. They’re good guys.
London Marathon 2008
Our warm congratulations to all 28 members of The M.A.’s London marathon team, who clearly deserved chocolate after fighting the elements on 13 April. Despite horrendous weather which switched between warm sunshine and icy downpours, every single one of them completed the course and we are most grateful for all their hard work.
Most M.A. runners had one of our Golden Bond places, which we buy from the London Marathon organisers. In return, they pledged to raise a minimum of £1300 – and many raised much more than that. We also had a record number of runners who already had places through the ballot system and they too collected sponsorship from friends, family and work colleagues. Between them, they have all helped raise awareness and much-needed funds for The M.A.
Fiona Smith writes:
I’d like to thank everyone at the Miscarriage Association for giving me the opportunity to run for them. The overwhelming support from the charity and fellow runners prior to the event helped settle the nerves and gave me further impetus to complete the gruelling challenge ahead. I, like most runners, had endured an arduous winter’s training, pounding the streets, in the dark, the rain, the snow (I live in Aberdeenshire!), but crossing that line made all the pain, injuries, self doubt and rigorous preparation worthwhile. It has been one of the greatest achievements of my life, to run 26.2 miles when I’d only ever run for a bus and to raise over £1600 for such a well deserving charity gave me an overwhelming sense of pride and achievement.
Doing the JOGLE
As someone who has gone through the pain of miscarriage I decided to spend my summer holiday cycling from John O’Groat’s to Land’s End to raise money for the Miscarriage Association. It is a small charity but when I felt like I was the only person in the world who has experienced 4 consecutive losses, the people I spoke to at the end to the phone gave me hope, encouragement and support. It was also part of a healing process for myself – I was fundraising for a good cause, raising awareness about a subject people don’t talk about, proving to myself that I wasn’t a complete failure and reminding myself that I wouldn’t have had the time to do it at all if I had a family. My husband came along too and raised money for a Lymphoedema charity.
Most people go from Land’s End to John O’Groats because the prevailing wind from the South West helps push you in the right direction, but we decided to go the other way because we live in Edinburgh and it was easier to get to the start at John O’Groats.
There are different ways of doing the ‘end to end’. Some people travel ultra-light – credit card touring. The take the absolute minimum and buy everything they need along the way. This makes the cycling easier, but can be expensive. Most people do slightly heavier. They take two panniers for clothes and gear and stay in hostels and B&Bs. We, on the other hand are heavyweight tourers. We took a tent and camped along the way, which meant that we also had to take sleeping bags, stove, pans, food, sleep mats etc – hence all the stuff. While it can slow you down because you have to push so much extra weight up all the hills, the advantage of cycle camping is that you can be more flexible. You can stop where you like and do not really have to book ahead.
At the start
We got the train to Thurso and had to cycle to John O’Groats before we started. It was 20 miles with the wind, so went very quickly, but John O’Groats was very cold so straight after the photos we headed for the cafÃ© and bacon rolls. The first night we stayed in Dunbeath. It was 58 miles that day and we were absolutely shattered. We stayed in a variety of places along the way and in all, we camped for 13 nights, went to 3 hostels and went to several B&Bs when we wanted a little more comfort.
From Inverness we followed the A9 on the national cycle network. On many stretches there is a purpose built cycle path that keeps you off the road and away from the traffic. From Perth we went to Edinburgh and stayed in our flat for a night of comfort and a chance to do some washing before heading through the Borders towards Carlisle. As we went through the Borders we were happy to be joined by a friend who cycled up from Brampton to camp with us and then accompany us south for a day.
Brampton to Kendal was a long day with showers. Going over Shap was the key challenge, but it was good to go downhill into Kendal. After Kendal we stayed at a campsite in Croston south of Preston before trying to find a route through Wigan and Warrington to the Mersey. We cycled along the St Helens Canal towpath to Widnes and crossed the Runcorn Bridge, then promptly got completely lost in Runcorn!
Cycling approx 50 miles a day means that you have to eat and eat and eat. You need the fuel to keep going. In general we would be on our bikes by 9am and stopping for food by 11. In all we went to 37 coffee shops. Highlights were getting donations from ladies in Carnforth, strawberries and clotted cream in Wells and Cornish ice cream in Padstow. After we crossed the Severn Bridge we slowed down quite a bit. We had time to visit places we had not been to and so went to Cheddar to look at the Gorge and learn all about cheeses. Wells was lovely.
The road in Cornwall were really hard. We knew this because everything we read about doing the end to end said that Cornwall and Devon was the hardest bit of the trip. The problem was that the main roads were too busy and dangerous to be cycling on for long, but the minor roads are really hilly. The roads climb out of the towns really steeply to about 400 ft before dipping down to sea level again to the next town. This means that progress is slow because with all the weight we were carrying we went up the hills at about 4mph.
We made it… 986 miles later!
It was great to get to the end. I enjoyed the trip and definitely feel a sense of achievement. I won’t be doing it again though!
Why not take up the charity challenge?
If you would like a trip with a difference, why not consider trekking through the Andes, climbing Killimanjaro or cycling in the Himalayas? Not only will you have the adventure of a lifetime, but you will also raise much-needed funds for The Miscarriage Association. Find out more at www.charitychallenge.co.uk
Our thanks to Cath, Lyndsey, Martin, Rachel, Julia and Heidi who took to the water on a sponsored white-water rafting adventure for The MA.
We undertook a 100km trek through the Jordanian desert, from the Dead Sea to the ancient city of Petra, organised by the Foundation for the Study of Infant Death (FSID). We’re told the temperature got up to 38 or 40 degrees C and all would agree on the toll exacted on our feet by the desert floor (we all naively thought the desert was sandy – not rocky!). Nevertheless, it was a fantastic experience in a truly beautiful country and, most importantly, raised several thousand pounds for The Miscarriage Association.
Jane Reynolds and her friends organised a Charity Ball to raise funds for The Miscarriage Association. The ball was a great success and party-goers had a wonderful time. Our sincere thanks to organisers and guests, as well as to Marks & Spencer and Original Leisurewear for their joint contribution of £3,500.
The M. A. team of runners in the 2006 London Marathon
L to R: Cathy Andrews, Carron Chesterman, Emma Pentland,
Alison Brench, Greg Wanlin and Stephen Bygrave
Many thanks to our fantastic team of runners in the 2006 Flora London Marathon:
Cathy Andrews; Alison Brench; Stephen Bygrave; Carron Chesterman; Bronwen Cowling; Helen Day; Wendy Halls;Deanne Heathfield; Julie Herbert; Mils Hills; David Irwin;Chris Leach; Emma Pentland; Anna Phillips; Jamie Quinn; Benedict Renshaw; David Roberts; Kelly Wakefield; Greg Wanlin; Sarah Whiteley; and Rik Williams.
All of them finished the course and all were still standing – and even walking – the next day. Between them they have raised over £30,000 in sponsorship for The Miscarriage Association, as well as raising awareness of pregnancy loss and the Miscarriage Association’s services.
Wendy Halls knows the devastation that losing an unborn baby can cause. The 32-year-old social worker has suffered five miscarriages. But now she is using her traumatic experiences to raise cash for other women who have had a miscarriage …
In a letter to The M.A., Wendy wrote:
“So many people commented on the article. It has certainly brought about awareness in the Bolton area.”
Reproduced by permission of Bolton Evening News.