Last weekend on September 28 around 1500 people joined together for Run Preston 2014. Third year Community and Social Care student Mark Lee was running to raise money, and told us all about it.
It’s Sunday morning. About 9am. Most people are at home having their morning coffee and toast, flicking through T.V. channels, or probably still beneath their covers snoozing.
But this Sunday was different. Me, and just over fifteen hundred others put our coffee down, picked up our trainers and headed to Market Street in for the annual 5k and 10k runs.
People from all over the North West and from all different walks of life were there, either running as individuals or in a group. Some for charity, and others just for fun. I was there as part of a group of 3 with 2 young people (Luke and Charlie) from a youth group that I help manage, and our aim was to complete the 10k for sponsorship we had got to buy some equipment for the community field and the side of the group.
Everyone is waiting and warming up, and then 9.30am comes along. *BANG* and the 5k runners set off. The atmosphere suddenly changed between all the 10k runners, there was now an air of an impending battle for some, nerves for others, and excitement for the rest – luckily myself, Luke and Charlie where in the group of excitement making our way slowly to the start line.
10.30am and *BANG* we’re off. Slowly we start running alongside all the other runners in a large group, kind of like cattle being herded in the direction the organisers wanted us to go. Within a few minutes this mass group of runners starts to spread and disperse as everyone finds their individual pace. The three of us are still together in our small group, music blurring in our ears to encourage us on and keep us focused.
4k into the run and our group of three separates. I look around and can see the determination and exhaustion on people’s faces, but every time I was met with a smile from my fellow runners, this sense of camaraderie between us all as we battle on.
I find myself running with a woman I have just met. We are sharing marathon stories and our training regimes whilst supporting and pushing each other on. We see the 9k sign, only 1k to go, and all of a sudden we somehow dig deep and find the energy reserves we didn’t know we had.
One last push, we gain speed, the finish line is in sight, and our supporters are there cheering us as we approach and cross the finish line.
‘That’s it’, I think to myself as I collect my bottle of water, banana, and medal, and I take another look around to see everyone congratulating each other. I receive a few pats on the back from people I have never seen before but I am grateful to them, the feeling of camaraderie enduring beyond the finish line.
“What were your times?” I hear all you other runners out there ask. Well Charlie crossed the line after 50 minutes, Luke 59 minutes, and myself 65 minutes. Hey, not bad going considering I’m twice their age.
As I continue to look around I start to wonder how much money has been raised altogether for all the different charities represented there, a quick bit of maths using £100 per person for charity and I arrive at £15,000. £15,000 for charity for a couple of hours of running on Sunday morning whilst others are at home having coffee and toast, not bad going at all, well done everyone.
Everyone starts to disperse now, and the barriers begin to be taken away. We blink and Preston is back to normal, people out shopping blissfully unaware of the battle that just hours earlier ensued, and the fundraising that has just occurred, on the streets they now tread as they meander from shop to shop.