David’s Great North Run

UPDATE: David will be undertaking the Great North Run again this year for CAAT. By sponsoring him you can help us to challenge the arms trade.

This summer one of our supporters, David Watson, pounded the pavements to raise some funds for a grateful CAAT , this is his story.

David finishes his run!
David finishes his run!

This time last year, I had never run more than 5 kilometres at my local park, so it’s fair to say that when I put my name in the ballot for the Great North Run (21 km), I was aiming to stretch my levels of endurance further than ever before. Despite having dodgy knees, I had to believe I could do it.

When I secured my place, I knew I had an ideal opportunity to raise funds for CAAT, but after only a fortnight I was within £150 of my £500 target, so I doubled it to £1000.

The Great North Run is hard because so much of it is uphill, so I decided to do a couple of easier half marathons as part of my training, starting with the Southend Half Marathon in June. A sweltering hot day saw me complete my first halfer with my knees intact in just under two hours.

In the middle of August after some hard training, I completed my second half-marathon in Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire in 1 hour 54 minutes. I felt pleased with myself, but my knees ached like billy-o.

Cue a visit to the pharmacists to buy pain-killers and ointment to soothe the inflammation. And still the little matter of raising the sponsorship target lurked in the background. The amount raised was creeping up gradually, but I had to continue badgering people. And so it was at my local parish church on Sundays, the local Parkruns on Saturdays and the weekly posting on Facebook.

Having already completed two halfers, I knew I was capable of another, so I abandoned my rigorous training schedule. Avoiding a serious injury was more important than achieving a fast time. And I knew I had no chance of catching Mo Farah.

Two weeks to go and I was still £300 away from my target when an external factor came into play: the Ice-bucket challenge. My wife Andrea was nominated for it and rather than donate her money to ALS, she nominated CAAT. This had a ripple effect, as the friend who nominated her, as well as Andrea’s nominees, all donated to CAAT as well. This gave my appeal fresh impetus and it comfortably surpassed the target on the weekend of the Run.

Come the weekend of the Run, my knees felt sore, but not bad enough to make me consider not running. I knew I would run. There was too much at stake not to.

A lot of hype was made of the fact that the event would see its millionth runner, the first IAAF running event in the world to attain this distinction. I had little interest in being the millionth runner, only being interested in crossing the finishing line in under two hours.

I failed.

Of course I finished the race, but I missed my target time by nine seconds. If only I hadn’t stopped running when I reached a steep downhill part on the last mile (those who’ve done the run will remember the magical moment when you see the North Sea at South Shields). Yes, those twenty seconds cost me my sub-two hour time, but my knees would have never forgiven me if I’d pounded them by speeding down that slope.

As it is, my knees carried me across the finishing line. I’d like to say the satisfaction of raising all the money was equally gratifying, but it wouldn’t be quite true.

Collecting sponsorship does take time, but the only downer was being refused sponsorship by some friends and family. My Tory-voting sister, for example, refused to sponsor a campaign group ‘in principle’. No point in explaining that CAAT is better than a charity because it aims to stop the source of many of the world’s problems, and if it were successful, there would be less need for so many charities. I haven’t given up on her, but she’s a tough nut…

If you do undertake such a fund-raising enterprise, use social networking like Facebook and Twitter as much you can, but remember there’s nothing like a face-to-face approach. People will ignore (or forget) emails asking for sponsorship, but the personal approach in the flesh is much more effective.

If you have a sympathetic vicar for example, get his name at the top of the sponsorship form and the parishioners will follow his example like a flock following a good shepherd. Be audacious and dogged. Ask your workmates, neighbours, family and wherever you go, wear a CAAT badge. People will ask about it, you’ll tell them about your event, and before you know it, you’ll have another sponsor. This approach led to me obtaining donations from shop assistants and even a Christian Zionist minister with whom I’d had a highly-charged argument about Palestine and Israel. At the latest count, I have banked more than £1220 and I still have some dues to collect.

Now, where’s my sister’s phone number…?

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