Rich’s Marathon Journey

This year I ran my first marathon and what a difficult choice it was. The decision to run it was tough considering I had not done much long-distance running before. Fundraising was fun but still a challenge as was, of course, the training. Rain, sun or snow I had to be out there putting in the miles. In fact, the easiest part of the whole thing was deciding which charity to run for.

Ted and Ernie are the start and finish line of my marathon journey. Helen, my wife, and I are the proud parents of these two incredible brothers; twin brothers in fact. When they were born, we both literally and metaphorically had our hands full as you can imagine. Soon after, Ernie was diagnosed with Down’s syndrome. Among the other symptoms, this had also affected his vision and his hearing.

We went to a number of support groups to help us during this time. At one of the groups, another parent suggested that we talk to Sense. Twelve months later, we walked through the door at Sense Family Centre Woodside not knowing what to expect and a short time after, we walked back out feeling part of the Sense family. It was so great and we were made to feel so welcome.

Since then, Sense Family Centre Woodside has been a second home to Ted and Ernie, and while Sense has taught us all how we can connect with each other differently, Ted has been Ernie’s best teacher. Ted has always been first to achieve milestones with Ernie always close behind. They have a great relationship together at home and at school where they are in the same class.

As a tennis coach, I manage to keep myself relatively fit but I am not a long distance runner. A neighbour entered me into a local 10k run at only two weeks’ notice. Despite the short notice, my time wasn’t too bad and so a local half marathon seemed the like good idea. During the training for that, the idea of running a marathon popped into my head. It seemed the next logical step, right?

Soon I was signed up to the London Virgin Marathon running for Sense and I was excited. Then the advanced training plan hit my doormat. It was relentless. Five days a week of running and one day at the gym. There was only room for one day of rest in the week. Fitting it all in was tough. It felt like I was running all the time, even when we were away on a family holiday.

There were plenty of times where I wanted to miss a training session but couldn’t for two main reasons. One reason was the many people that supported me and donated their hard earned money. I owed it to them to make those personal sacrifices and get the best time possible.

The other reason was Ted and Ernie. In my head and heart, they were there at every start line, cheering me on when I hit every wall and waiting for me at every finish line. When it came to race day, I knew that I was ready. The nerves were there but knowing I had my family waiting at the other end, pulled me through.

To all the people running or thinking about running for Sense, I will say only this; each mile, meter or step you make to that finish line has a profound effect on families like mine. All the moments on your journey matter and we will be cheering you on every step of the way! The only question left remaining is what my next challenge will be?


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