It’s that time of year again… it was the second YouCan Run! After the success of last year YouCan decided to hold another run, this time on the 1st October. The leaves had just started to turn and there was a nip in the air but that didn’t stop over 300 runners from coming to Leeds Castle to attempt either the 5k or 10k.
Myself and a few friends – Sue’s Sprinters – had an excellent morning. It was my first ever 5k – heck my first ever run! – and Hannah’s first ever 10k so we had some goals to smash and new PBs to gain. My sister Laura just woke up, rolled out of bed, and with little to no training just casually ran the 10k – madness! All in the aid of raising money for YouCan.
Pic below – Sue’s Sprinters – (l-r) Hannah, Laura, Sarah and me before the race. Glittered up and ready to rock and roll!
This year we had some amazing volunteers cheering us on all around the course. I’m sure it would have been pretty miserable in the spitting rain but all of them gave up their time and cheered us on with massive smiles as we sprinted (or in my case stumbled) past them. I can’t explain exactly how awesome it is to be cheered on when you feel like you just can’t run another step more. So thank you, all of you, you really helped me – and I’m sure a lot of others – get around the course. And of course you helped the charity too. Without you, the event literally could not happen, so thank you again.
Tescos were supporting the event and Andy and Stuart were there helping with gazebos and banners early in the morning. They also provided all the water around the course for the runners. I’m not gonna lie but one of the best things after running 5k was getting that bottle of water at the end – behind getting my medal of course.
We had a brilliant turn out of runners this year. From adults running their first ever races – like me – to professional runners, to children, we were a very diverse group! There were people from Beginners to Runners who did their first 5ks or 10ks. I was so impressed with their determination; when one of the ladies came over the finish line almost in tears I was welling up right along with her, what an amazing achievement! It was a huge challenge for a lot of people and it was lovely to see adults and kids alike sailing across the finish line with massive grins on their faces.
Some of the nurses – and Trevor – from Charles Dickens ward in Maidstone Hospital came and ran the race. Some of these amazing women actually treated me a few months ago when I was having my chemotherapy and it was lovely to see them again. They always made me feel welcome in the ward, offering a sunny smile, some advice and compassion. This was particularly important to me towards the last few chemo sessions when I was really struggling. The Charles Dickens nurses are wonderful at their jobs and I feel really lucky to have had my treatment there because of them. I’m sure a few of them wouldn’t mind me saying that they are not natural runners (like me!) and I know for them running this race was a massive personal challenge. They also did some fundraising and for that I am so incredibly grateful and proud. These nurses do lifesaving work every day and they used their free time to do the run – incredible! Basically, I just can’t thank them enough for everything.
Pic below – Some of the nurses from Maidstone Hospital that ran with Trevor and Ward Manager Keli Tomlin.
After my chat on the mic (embarrassing!) before the 10k set of it was so lovely to have fellow runners cheering me and others on as they went around. And it is a tough course, no doubt about it. Mainly on grass – though at some points just plain mud – with some really steep inclines throughout. Then the people who signed up to do the 10k, well they had to run the course twice! I did not envy them at all. At some point around the course I remember thinking “maybe I could have tackled the 10k” and then another hill came and I realised if I was doing the 10k I’d have to do it all again. Not a chance. So massive WELL DONE to everyone who did that.
I’m still waiting on the official total of everything raised by the run and I will update here as soon as I know. But I’m super proud to say Sue’s Sprinters smashed the team target of £800 by raising over £1700 for YouCan! So honoured to call the amazing ladies who ran with me my friends (and sister friend!) and they kept me going during training too.
Pic below – Sue’s Sprinters having just crossed the finish line – elation!
For me, the run was a milestone. A moment in my history that I could hang my hat on, so to speak. I’m done with active treatment and struggling to get my body back to where it was before cancer. I have never really run before, apart from racing to catch the last bus from a night out in my youth, so I knew this was going to be incredibly hard anyway. Without the support from YouCan – the personal training, boot camp and nutritional advice – I would have struggled to get that 5k medal and new PB (only PB?! 39 minutes thank you very much!) I would never have been able to run 5k before my diagnosis so this is just one of the ways YouCan is helping me get back on track.
So here’s to next years YouCan Race. I, for one, can’t wait – and I never thought I’d say that about running!!! Maybe next year I’ll do the 10k….?!