Read about our great Great North Runners and why they took part…
I was born with the heart condition Biscupid Aortic Valve and Coarctation of the Aorta. I had open heart surgery at the age of 13 to repair my valve and again in 2009 to replace my valve with a mechanical one.
When my daughter Stephanie was born, a check at three days old found she also had a heart murmur. Further tests and investigations showed she had a hole in the heart but later on, as is sometimes the case with new born babies, the murmur disappeared. After further investigations we were advised it was an innocent murmur, which was a huge relief.
Through my own experience of living with a heart condition, and having concerns that my daughter could also have a problem, it made me very aware of the stress and worry parents go through when their children are diagnosed with a heart problem. So, I took part in the Great North Run to raise awareness about Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) and to show that those born with CHD can take part in exercise.
I achieved my dream of being part of the GNR and raising funds for CHF who do so much for children and their families with CHD. I was delighted to give something back. I got so much out of it and such a sense of achievement that I will definitely be entering next year.
I did the Great North Run with my great friend Steph Gale. We found the event quite hilly and fairly tough, and it didn’t help that Steph was ill and I was injured, but we both managed ok. The atmosphere was great, especially amongst the runners.
I didn’t really know too much about CHF until Steph got me involved, but now I’m much more aware of the great work that CHF do and I hope to increase awareness by keeping collection pots in local pubs.
Thank you to CHF for all the support and e-mails (and sandwiches after the race!).
I have secured a ballot place for the London Marathon next year (I never learn!!) and I will be running for CHF again as a way to support their fantastic work.
We have family and friends who have suffered from heart problems from a young age and I heard about the Children’s Heart Federation and the great work that they do, and so I decided to tie in a personal challenge with raising money for a good cause.
My friend Matt Jackson and I ran the London Marathon in 2011 for another charity and we really enjoyed the challenge and the humbling experience of raising money to help others less fortunate than ourselves. So, we decided to run the Great North Run for CHF! I run my own business, a bespoke event styling company called Revival Rooms and we both work at The Bricklayers Arms in Flaunden so we had to work hard to fit our training in to beat our targets; mine was 1 hour and 50 minutes. We have had some great support from the locals who have helped us with our fundraising too and we have collection pots in the pub to encourage donations and raise awareness which has worked really well. We also saved up our tips too to donate to the cause. The Great North Run was an amazing experience which I will never forget.
This year’s Great North Run was the first time I have raised money for the CHF and my first proper half marathon. My son, Joseph was born with Transposition of the Great Arteries and had major heart surgery at 10 days old to ‘correct’ it. Since then I have been raising money for Heart charities such as the British Heart Foundation and Children’s Heart Surgery Fund. Sorry to name check other charities but I believe they are all have their specific place. I have now installed the CHF as my number one and aim for my association to be a lifelong commitment.
Joseph’s condition has also encouraged me to change my lifestyle. I thought I needed to be a better role model to him and try and become a healthy, fit, dad. So I started running and with dieting I have lost around 3 stone in 2 years. The running burns a huge amount of calories and now I can eat pretty much anything, including my favourite treats – MMs and dark chocolate and my favourite tipple, real ale from God’s Country. In case any of you don’t know where that is, it’s Yorkshire.
The night before the run I met Sam from the CHF and other runners who were raising money for the CHF. All had very personal and indeed in some cases, painful stories to tell. It has opened my eyes a lot. Although we were exceptionally unlucky in Joseph being born with TGF (about 1 in 2000 unlucky), his long term prospects appear good. He will never play upfront for Middlesbrough or cricket for Yorkshire, or be a fireman but he should have a relatively ‘normal’ life.
The day of the run I was a bit nervous. I’d never done the distance and only ran over 10 miles a few times. Although I had no doubts I wouldn’t finish I’d put a bit of pressure on myself to run it under 1 hour 50 minutes. I was dismayed to see that I’d been given a draw in Pink J. None of the runners around me looked like a serious athlete like me ! They looked happy, were even talking about walking it and I appeared the odd one out as I wasn’t in fancy dress! I talked to this nice lad and we asked each other why were doing the run. He said he’d lost ‘a bit’ of weight. How much I asked ? 16 Stone ! Bloody hell ! From 30 to 14 stone. He showed me the skin on his stomach and I believed him. He did it on his own without a gastric band, just running and dieting. Respect. All you ‘fad’ dieters take note !
When I finally approached the start line the adrenaline kicked in and I became a running demon. I forgot I was really a middle aged man who hadn’t done much sport since school and did an impression of Usain Bolt on Red Bull. I ran off like a train, weaving and dodging past the thousands of other runners. Some stopped in front of me without notice but all appeared to be in my way ! I was going to win …..
This approach lasted until about 9 miles. The course was much hillier than anticipated. Being from Yorkshire I didn’t think there were any serious inclines in the North East. However I began to tire and the last 3 miles were quite painful. I wasn’t superhuman after all. A half marathon is still a serious challenge to most. Respect the distance ! I finally crossed the line in 1 hour 49 minutes. Just under my target. I then staggered to the charity tent where the lovely ladies were waiting for me with an array of sandwiches, snacks and cup cakes. It was great to meet all the other finishers from the night before and recount our tales from the day.
I raised £821 for the CHF and since then I have done another HM and this time I managed 1 hour 47 minutes. Onwards and upwards for Joseph, the CHF and me !
My son Daniel who was born with a serious heart condition; Transposition of the Great Arteries and a very large Ventricular Septal Defect. It has been difficult for the whole family, it’s stressful and upsetting which is why you often need support from a group such as the Children’s Heart Federation.
Daniel has had to undergo several procedures including major heart surgery at Yorkhill Hospital in Glasgow. He has recently undergone the Fontan Completion and is now back at school and well on the road to a full recovery.
Throughout the last five years, the Children’s Heart Federation has been a very useful resource to my family. They have provided support, reassurance and have great literature which explains conditions and what to expect when you have a child with a heart problem. When you have a child who gets diagnosed with such a major and unexpected condition you have so many questions which you need answering.
In order to help others who are in the same worrying and distressing position as we were in, I ran the Great North Run to raise money for CHF and to give something back.
I ran the Great North Run 3 years ago so I luckily knew what to expect. It’s fair to say I was not as prepared as I ideally would have liked to be but I was confident and determined to finish around the 2 hour mark. It was a fantastic experience with the crowds cheering all along the route, and also great to meet the CHF team at the finish with welcome refreshments.
Pictures of our fabulous runners who took part in the Great North Run on September 16th 2012.