YOUCAN RUN @ LEEDS CASTLE
Even with a 6am start on a Sunday morning, there are few sights more beautiful than Leeds Castle. To stand alone on the hill looking down at the castle feels like a privilege, everything is utterly peaceful and the view just takes your breath away. And then reality hits and the fear kicks in! In just a few hours there would be around 450 people descending to take part in the very first YouCan Run. Would we actually be able to pull this off? Would all the months of planning and preparation finally come together and everything run smoothly?
When we first decided to stage a run event it was a real leap of faith. After all, YouCan is a very new charity. We don’t have a database of thousands of supporters to call on. We don’t have masses of resources at our disposal. We definitely had the enthusiasm and we had a certain amount of belief …and we had the wonderfully generous team at Leeds Castle who had trusted us with the gift of their estate in which to hold this event. It was with a deep breath and fingers crossed that we leapt into the YouCan Run plan. Our target – 200 runners. That would constitute a success.
Six months on and we found ourselves scurrying around the office allocating 400+ t-shirts, frantically making sure we had enough medals (there was a last minute order panic) and worrying whether we would have enough water for the water stations. Big thank you to Andy and Stuart from Tesco at this point who didn’t bat an eyelid when they got a call from me to ask if they could magic up enough water for another 100 people two days before the event. I wish you could have seen the slightly childish excitement of the team when we reached 200 runners …then 300 …and finally 399 on the day we closed on-line registrations. I kind of wish we’d stayed open just long enough to hit that magic 400 pre-registered, but that’s just plain greedy!
We spent a long day at Leeds Castle on the Saturday (day before the Run) when we set up as much as we could – the gantry, the tents, most of the course. It’s slightly eerie to look at the skeleton of an event. Just an outline. Totally still and quiet. Waiting for the people to bring it alive.
And then suddenly, there they all were. 447 runners (we had 48 sign up on the day) and supporters, family and friends. And the hill overlooking the castle was alive with noise and with colour. Our amazing band of volunteers were on hand to help with registrations, to hand out t-shirts, to man the water stations, to cheer and support runners as marshalls around the course. Pretty much everyone you would have seen helping out on Sunday was a volunteer who gave up their time to support us. And we are so grateful to them all.
The runners. 270 took part in the 10km. 177 took part in the 5km. We sent them all out on the same course; we sent the 10km runners round twice! It’s a pretty tough course at Leeds Castle. Much of it is on grass and there are a couple of rather cruel inclines to really challenge people. But for a lot of it you get to keep the Castle in sight and the view from points on the course are truly stunning and must surely have kept runners minds off the pain of the hills (at least I hope so). There were plenty of smiles, even at the end of the race, so I think everyone enjoyed themselves. Our photographer, Jodi, has captured some fabulous images of the runners and you can take a look at these by following the link: http://www.jodihanaganphotography.com/p880979466
By midday it was all over and we were packed up. And I was stood once again on top of the hill looking down on the Castle. And, if I may be so bold, whilst there may be few sights more beautiful I think I may have found something that just about tops it …the sight of 450 people running off down the hill towards the Castle in a sea of turquoise, orange and white YouCan t-shirts. That will stay with me for a long time. It was a very special moment for all of us at YouCan.
THANK YOU to everyone who took part, who volunteered, who simply turned up and supported …what a difference you will make to the lives of young people whose lives have been impacted by cancer. Look out for the final total raised, we’ll be announcing it soon.
Looks like we’d better start planning for the second YouCan Run …SEE YOU THERE!!