Those who’ve known me longest are the most surprised that I run – I spent most of my life strenuously avoiding unnecessary physical activity. However, to my own surprise, I enjoy it. It helps that where I live in Sheffield I can run for a few minutes from my home and find myself looking out over the lovely Rivelin valley, which lifts the spirits, even on a drizzly day. On a sunny day, it makes me want to burst into song (I don’t, as I’m usually too out of breath, and I don’t want to frighten the horses/dog walkers/other runners who are out there too). On the flip side, you can’t run anywhere in Sheffield without having to deal with hills …
The Great Yorkshire Run is a great experience – there’s the full spectrum of runners, from the elite group (who were back across the finish line almost before my ‘wave’ set off) to unlikely runners like me. I’m slow – though I get a tiny bit faster each time – which is fine, it’s a run and not a race, and I’m a middle-aged, traditionally built (thank you Alexander McCall Smith) woman, a pit pony rather than a gazelle. But I keep going – once I start running I don’t stop, till I cross the finish line.
Last year I shaved 3 minutes of my previous year’s time (which itself was 10 minutes faster than I’d ever achieved in training). When I’d slogged up the final cruelly steep hill a sudden spell of dizziness and breathlessness led to an ignominious journey on a golf cart to the medical tent. This year, I’ve had back problems which stopped me training for a few weeks. Despite that, I’ll be doing the Great Yorkshire again this year, wearing the Refugee Action t-shirt.
Anyone who read my Refugee Week‘s worth of blogs about refugees will not be surprised at my choice of charity. It’s really important to me how my country treats people who arrive here seeking sanctuary from persecution, violence and war. My parents offered hospitality to Hungarian refugees after the uprising in 1956. Ten years later we found ourselves in northern Nigeria during the violence that preceded the civil war, when Igbo people were killed in their homes, on the streets, on the university campuses and in hospital wards. Even those trying to escape from Nazi Europe often found their accounts of persecution doubted, and were unwelcome where they sought refuge. You only have to read the reporting in many newspapers of any refugee issues to see how many half-truths and complete falsehoods are trotted out to bolster the view that we should send them all back (or at least send them somewhere else). I know how much Refugee Action does to support these people, and to counter prejudice and misinformation, and I’m proud to be raising funds for this work.
So, if you feel as I do about the importance of this work, please sponsor me here: