A half marathon is no mean feat, but for a group of determined Helping Hand supporters, this year’s Manchester Half on October 14, was a chance to raise some money in honour of a much-loved friend and colleague, who passed away this year.
The group of 46 aspiring runners from Helping Hand and Revolution Running club pounded the streets to prepare for the 13.1 mile half marathon, between them clocking up a huge 607 miles. This combined effort saw £3,500 raised to support the family of friend and colleague Chris Whittle, who sadly lost his battle with cancer earlier this year.
In the month Chris would have turned 40, the Revolution Running and Helping Hand fundraisers look back on the race.
Leyland Trucks’ Karen Sussams had no running experience before she took up the challenge, with just 3 months to train, but found the support from her Revolution Running club buddy Danny a huge help to cross the finish line. Karen said: “I’ve never even run 1 mile let alone 13.1 miles and, I didn’t believe that there was any way I could do it, but here I am, my first half marathon completed, I didn’t break any land speed record, but I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face.
“What we all achieved is monumental, whether you were an experienced runner or new to the sport, it’s fantastic what we all did and I’m so proud to be able to say that I was part of this team."
Julie-Ann Caton, from Revolution Running, who also ran for Helping Hand, and said: “What kept me going on the rainy nights and windy mornings was the reason why we were doing it – because we are lucky enough to be alive and be able push ourselves for the good of others.
“I was so proud to be part of the team and see how far everyone had come, especially those that were non-runners at the start, they soon got the bug and performed brilliantly on the day.”
Cassim Tilly from the Leyland Trucks Finance Team also took part in the race, despite having suffered arthritis in the past. Cassim said, “Looking around a magnificent sea of runners all heading in the same direction was the best feeling ever.
“It is hard to comprehend that I finished my first half marathon. I was nowhere near what you would call fast, but I feel like such a winner. Thanks to the encouragement from Helping Hands and the worthy cause for which we all raised money.”
Alison Evans, coach at Revolution Running was part of the team that helped the runners train, and completed the run herself. She said, “From the moment I was asked to support some training sessions for MCR half marathon for Chris Whittle myself and Revolution Running jumped right on board.
“Athletes from the group and Leyland Trucks became great running buddies, offering support and encouragement to each other from day one. Every one of our hard working committed athletes who stepped over the start line skipped over the finish line. Our families all spurring us on, our running buddies shouting words of encouragement throughout the course but mostly we skipped with tippy toes and elbows for the man in all our thoughts Chris Whittle. "
Helping Hand’s Sarah Schofield was another runner to take up the challenge, and said despite the rain on the day, spirits were not dampened. “It was wet, eventful, wonderful and really enjoyable to be a part of the whole experience, in the knowledge that we all completed it in the memory of Chris Whittle.” Sarah said.
She adds, “Thanks to everyone who took part in this fundraising challenge, we have one final thank you to make and then we will publish the total amount we raised and when we will be making the donation.”