Rob’s Marathon for CLAPA

September 3, 2020

Over the years, Rob and his wife have received support from CLAPA throughout their son’s cleft journey. Rob decided he wanted to give something back and planned to run the Edinburgh marathon this year. After this was postponed due to Coronavirus, he was undeterred! He organised his very own challenge, running the Isle of Wight marathon route with some friends and helpers, and has managed to raise over £900 for CLAPA! Here’s his story.

On the 25th November 2000 my son was born with a unilateral cleft lip and missing sections of hard and soft palate. Like every parent in our position you wonder ‘how has this happened?’ and ‘what if we did something wrong?’ but the CLAPA team are wonderful people who soon make you realise that it’s nothing anyone has done wrong, it’s just one of those things.

After three operations and one more to follow out of choice, my son is now 19 years old, constantly reminding me that he is now taller than me and very much the confident young man I hoped he would become. As parents, my wife and I are both very proud of him and for the best part of his life he has coped remarkably well with the challenges life has thrown at him. CLAPA have a huge part to play in this transformation and we will be eternally grateful. For some time now I have been wanting to try and give at least a little something back.

So, this month, (September), I should have been running the rearranged Edinburgh marathon in aid of CLAPA but due to the virus, (which shall remain nameless), it was again cancelled until next May 2021. Therefore, I took it on myself to run the Isle of Wight marathon route on the 29th August instead and use that as my push for charitable donations. This route is considered one of the toughest road running marathon events in the UK due to the constant up’s and down’s associated with this beautiful island. But, fear not, I intend to wear my CLAPA running vest to highlight the charity once in Edinburgh.

I took it on myself to run the Isle of Wight marathon route on the 29th August instead and use that as my push for charitable donations.

Following a tongue-in-cheek request for volunteer runners and help with re-fuel stops on route I was blessed with many replies offering help. This blew me away, but I also knew that their assistance would be invaluable.

The team at the start of their challenge

Seven of us were there for the start. I was joined by Graham, Tillie, Gareth, Keith, Adrian and Ken, (who I’d never met before). We had a team photo before we set which was taken by Tillie’s Mum, (Beverley), who became our photographer for the day. We were also joined by her Dad, (Pete), who was our support cyclist for the full 26.2 mile route.

The weather on the morning of the run itself was perfect. We set off at 07:30 with plenty of cloud and a very light breeze to keep us all cool and whilst we got into our stride we all had an agreement to support whoever was the slowest runner at any point. I’m pleased to say that this was the case for the full route and our spirit and togetherness was there throughout. Anybody out there who runs will tell you that no matter how good you are, everyone hits ‘the wall’ somewhere along a long run on any given day without warning.

I’m pleased to say that this was the case for the full route and our spirit and togetherness was there throughout.

So, cue my epic nosebleed at mile 3…this was something unexpected and something which only stopped at mile 23! Such was the flow that I had to keep changing my ‘plug’ about every 2 miles. I had the blood, the sweat but thankfully no tears.

We picked up another support cyclist on route to the halfway point, Andy, who was more than happy to help with the bribery of a bag of Haribo and also had the assistance of Aaron and his son, Ethan, with sweets, water and a ‘runners in road’ sign throughout most of the route. This was important as it helped to warn the traffic in advance whilst we guided ourselves around some of the main roads with tight bends.

The all-important “runners in road” sign

The brief stop at the 13.1 mile, halfway point saw us take on board some extra water, bananas and a few extra little sweets courtesy of my very own parents, (Marg and Les). One of the runners even had his own fan club there.

We set off again but soon lost Adrian to a slight muscle pull. Although he could probably have carried on a little longer, he was talked into stopping as he has more running events coming up, (this very route being one of them). Aaron was on hand to pick him up and we carried on.

At 15.2 miles we collected another runner, Vicky. She thought she was doing 8 miles and made it clear that she was aware I had conned her into more when she arrived at the pre-arranged meeting point. She is an old school friend so was fine with me…eventually!

Rob running

Gareth pulled out with fatigue at 19 miles. This was a superb personal achievement for him as he had never completed more than a half marathon distance before. Again, Aaron was on hand as a taxi service. This was also where we picked up two more runners – Andy and Rob – and a short spell where another cyclist, Gary, found us on route to offer encouragement.

Onto the hardest part of the route we went. The sun came out at this point just to challenge us a little more but on the plus side this is where my nose stopped bleeding. Twists, turns and hills of the latter stages challenged us all but thankfully we all made is through to the end, as a group together and with smiles on our faces. We were also met there by my own wife, Kelly, with some chocolate milkshakes and more goodies which were quickly consumed.

Twists, turns and hills of the latter stages challenged us all but thankfully we all made is through to the end, as a group together and with smiles on our faces.

The team at the end of their challenge

Highlights of this run were Keith finding a child’s lion mask to wear, Gareth running his furthest distance to date, Tillie smashing her personal best by over 20 minutes, Ken racing up the last big hill and, of course, my nose! I am immensely proud of everyone who took part, those who helped in any way but especially those who kept us safe on the route.

Thank you also to the people who cheered us along the way and at the end but, especially of course, those who donated to the superb charity CLAPA, who look after people from the very minute they are born. Thank you from my wife and I, as well as every parent, who desperately require your dedication and time to look after us when we are at our most vulnerable.

Thank you for your incredible fundraising and commitment to CLAPA, Rob!

Are you inspired by Rob’s challenge? Find out more about getting involved with CLAPA by clicking on the button below, or by emailing our friendly fundraising team at [email protected]

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