As marathons and other events have been (understandably) cancelled, anyone with a charity place ends up in an awkward position. They can either put their fundraising on hold or look into alternative means for reaching their target.
I was meant to be doing several events this year for Alzheimer’s Society, most of which are now postponed. My first instinct was to wait until the new dates were released and start up again then. But after my grandad (who’s dementia was the reason I chose this charity) sadly passed away in March I felt a need to continue.
The first event I had this year was the Manchester Marathon on the 5th of April. In theory, this was a simple one to replicate. In lieu of a treadmill I opted for running the 26.2 miles in my garden.
I set up a small aid station and set off. It was a long day. Even though I’ve been running for a long time I’ve never ran in such an enclosed space before and found it difficult to keep myself motivated when being faced with the same view for a total of 970 laps. This challenge ended up taking most of the day and I’ll openly admit that some sections were walked when both boredom and tiredness set it...
So... why barefoot? I've been running barefoot for over a year since I decided to run the Yorkshire marathon without shoes in 2019 for charity. I now hugely prefer it to running in shoes and these events were to be no different. However, I didn't account for the hawthorns hidden in my lawn. I had to resort to using my Altras (barefoot shoes) for a few laps between foot maintenance pit stops. All in all, I’d say I ended up doing about 90% of the run barefoot.
After picking out several spiky thorns from my feet, I made a note for event number 2: remember to check the lawn more carefully for sharp items...
For Event 2 I was meant to be running the Yorkshire Three Peaks. I had already taken part in a few stair-climb challenges online and that seemed the simplest way forward. However, I wanted to make it more of a challenge so I decided I would do the vertical distance on my stairs (765 flights) and then do the horizontal distance (23.5 miles) outside.
I was cocky though. This was a LOT harder than what I had expected it to be and 3 days later my legs are still screaming at me for it. I had thought that after the marathon and the stair-climb challenges I had done I would be better prepared. After 2 full days (much of which I was having to literally force my legs to move) I completed both the vertical and horizontal distances.
I have two events left this year. The first was Endure24 which has sadly been cancelled. I will be replacing this with a 4/4/48 challenge in June – run 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours.
This time however, I am training properly. I am supplementing daily runs with at least 3 miles in my garden and am still doing small stair-climb challenges in place of hill walking. I’ve discovered that everyday items can be used as weights and dragging tyres is fantastic resistance training. I am determined to go into this next challenge better prepared, especially as tiredness and sleep deprivation are going to make the psychological side difficult. The more physically prepared I am, the easier it should be.
The final event in my fundraising calendar this year is ‘Lakes in a Day’, a 50-mile ultra-marathon from the top of Cumbria to the bottom. This will be my first ultra and so far, it looks to be going ahead. Although, who knows what might happen before October! If it's cancelled I will have to think of an appropriate substitute.
So...what's next? I live in York and don't have any Cumbria-like terrain from my doorstep and 30+ mile runs aren't really within the spirit of the current restrictions. As it stands, I'll have to come up with some inventive ways of training for these final events.
I'm really glad that I decided to continue with my fundraising. A lot of charities have lost a huge proportion of their donations this year. These challenges have given me something to focus on during this difficult and unpredictable time. I am thankful to everyone who has supported me, both in actual donations and in cheering me on via social media. It means a lot.
Words and pictures by Hazel Kerrison: Hazel is a barefoot runner and wild swimmer with a passion for using the outdoors to improve mental health. She struggles to sit still and is forever on the lookout for the next challenge/adventure.
More of her activities can be seen on her Instagram @ambitiousfailure or blog, https://theambitiousfailure.wordpress.com/
You can support her by donating to: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/runningforalzheimerssociety2020