Stories and media Fundraisers' stories A runner's tale My journey began at the end of 2011. At this time I was fairly sedentary and the extent of my exercise regime was taking my bicycle to the local shops instead of driving. I had little to no interest in fitness and devoted myself towards work. In October 2011, I was struck down off my bicycle by a careless driver. I was left with severe injuries to my back and told by a "specialist" that I wouldn't be able to cycle again, let alone run! However, being somewhat a masochist, I decided that I wasn't going to let that become a truth. Instead, I enlisted the guidance of my family GP and spent the following 2 years strengthening the muscles surrounding the injured area so that they somewhat compensated for the injuries. I was never going to place first in the Olympics, but at least I alleviated some pain and restored some functionality. I was lucky in that I was able to use my efforts to help myself, but it left me wondering about those who suffer misfortune but don't have the same advantage. Even worse, I thought of those who might be born with a ailment that they couldn't resolve without help. This is what sparked my interest in helping others and finding a charity that would allow me to devote my effort and strengths towards improving the life of someone less fortunate. Naturally, I began talking about this regularly and began the search. Whilst in conversation, a colleague of mine told me about an email he had been sent in relation to an opening on the CLEFT team to run the Royal Parks Half Marathon. I'd never run in a straight-line for anything other than cake but was intrigued by the challenge. I looked into the charity and it became quite clear that the work CLEFT did overseas for children who might not have the finances or resources available to them fit the description of what I was looking for. I signed up immediately, not realising that one month was really not a lot of time to go from beginner to half marathon. Regardless, my aim was to reach her finish line, not for myself but for the people that would benefit from my fundraising. It didn't matter whether I ran, walked or crawled to the end - I would get there. I was pleasantly surprised by how much people were willing to give and the support I received from others, it really helped on the day. I had no expectations but managed to finish in 2hrs and 25 minutes, far better than anything I had imagined. Crossing the finish line was an experience I'll never forget and one that got me addicted. I cherished the feeling of simultaneously accomplishing a personal achievement whilst also helping raise money for CLEFT. For that reason, the Royal Parks Half Marathon and CLEFT will always be important to me and that is why I run it for CLEFT every year! Of course the beautiful route and the glorious colour of the Autumn leaves also helps! Not to mention the overwhelming sense of community amongst the runners and the loud cheers from spectators. Over the years, I have managed to reduce chunks off my time but also dropped back down also, but the important thing is that I consistently raise around £500 each year. This year was particularly difficult for me as I got a stomach bug two days before the run. To make matters worse, I also live in Ireland now and didn't know if I would be fit for travel. The conditions on the day were terrible and for the first time in the 6 years that I've been running the Royal Parks Half Marathon, it rained. I was unable to drink water due to the pain in my stomach and to top it all off, I had an asthma attack near the end. It was the least pleasant Royal Parks Half Marathon but I enjoyed every second nonetheless because I knew I was making a difference and also that my friends and family were waiting for me at the finish line with beer and cake! I started out alone with just me parents spectating the first year to now having a whole entourage of people watching and cheering in person or over the mobile app. My fiance has even agreed to run with me next year! I couldn't do it without the support of those closest to me and especially my fiance. Running the Royal Parks Half Marathon has shown me that anything is possible when you have the right motive and loving support.