August Bank Holiday last year, I completed a 13 hour non stop run on Praa Sands Beach to raise money for a local lady who was seeking alternative treatment abroad for cancer. I had heard about this young lady through a friend who was also raising money for her, and had been touched by her story to try everything in order to live.
It had been an impulsive decision, since the last time I had run for 13 hours on the beach was in 2007, before I broke my back. I literally decided to do it with only a couple of weeks to prepare. The run went well, and when I finished, feeling a little unsatisfied, someone jokingly said to me, 'you will be doing it for 24 hours non stop next ..'
The whole day went better than I expected, apart from a minor glitch in the morning, when my van didn't start!
I started the run at 7:21am in the morning. The sun was out and it was fantastic to have people there already to run with me, including John Leach from Shelterbox, Paul Morris, Sarah Kenworthy and Andrew Philips. Then the list of people just kept coming ...
I didn't have a single low moment, every time someone new joined to run with me, my motivation would surge to another level. Random tourists on the beach, who didn't know what was going on, were asking if they could join in and run with me. So many children joined in, including two boys in particular, Miles and Mason. They were only eight years old but ran over 10 lengths in total during the day. They even came back in the night, just before 11pm to run with me. They were amazing!
Other friends of mine joined me throughout the day; ones that I knew was hard for them to run, ones who ran because they decided today would be a good day to kick off their fitness, ones who had medical conditions but didn't let it stop them. I also met some incredible visitors who had heard about it on Radio Cornwall and came down to run!
Holiday makers came back down to beach after midnight to join in, and had a camp fire on the beach!
I was never alone running for more than 10 minutes for the whole 24 hours!! The support was incredible. A special mention has to be made for my incredible sons, Anoki (15 years old) and Dalano (17 years old), who ran with me from midnight to 4:30am, and their friends Jake Carley and Ayson Coker!
How many teenage boys do that?!
They deserved a medal, they were up all night! They even missed 'Party in the Park' in Penzance for me!!
Then, I was joined again by Andrew Philips and Emma Bouch in the last couple of hours of crazy pouring rain, and it really did rain properly, as my friends keep reminding me, although I was so happy by then for my legs to be feeling so good, that I didn't mind!
My two best friends, Steve Coles and Mark Finch helped to make it all possible and were up all night to make sure I had enough drinks to remain hydrated etc. Mark left the Stones Reef surf shop lights on so that I had a 'beacon' to aim for on the beach. Without them, it would not have been possible.
The barbeque that was being held and organised by my lovely friends Mark Finch
and Jaime Gaspare, was also to raise money for Shelterbox sold out within a couple of hours, and we wished we had bought more burgers for it!
Jaime Gasparealso generously donated a three course meal voucher as a prize for the raffle, at Senara Restaurant in Penzance. Other prizes came from 'At Your Pace', specialist running shop in Helston, 'Cycle Logic', in Helston, James Baker from Kamikaze Boarding and from Nigel at Alder Sportswear.
I don't know how much I have raised altogether for Shelterbox yet, as I had to return straight away to work in Portland/Weymouth in the gym at the Paralympics, for Technogym.
I know £370 was raised online in two days, £85 from the Barbeque, and a couple of hundred from the raffle, and once I return the sealed collection box to Shelterbox, hopefully they will tell me the total. I am guessing between £850 and £1000.
I was so lucky with the weather, considering it rained all day the day before, and didn't rain until 3am Monday
morning! By then it was an easy count down until 7:21am Monday, so I didn't even notice, but I know my friends did! But it didn't put them off! Finally, it was fantastic to see John Leach's face at the
finish time, when I completed my 24 hours of absolutely non-stop running.
I ran a total of 115 and a half lengths (I stopped at 7:21am) of the beach. Each length is just under a mile long, depending upon the tide, the shortest a length gets before you get wet is three quarters of a mile.
I honestly loved every minute of the whole 24 hours. I am just a bit worried knowing how my brain works what my next challenge is going to be...?