The 2017 Simplyhealth Great Run Series has come to an end and what an experience it has been! We’ve loved supporting all of our wonderful Revitalise runners this year, and one runner in particular has been with us right from the very beginning (until the end!) Yes, that’s right, Simplyhealth employee Jamie Jones ran the entire series in support of our charity! Here he tells all about his experience and reflects on what the past eleven months of training and running has taught him.
Written by Jamie Jones, Simplyhealth.
Little did I realise at the launch of the Simplyhealth Great Run Series in Edinburgh back in early January that nearly eleven months later I would have completed all fourteen races across the length and breadth of the UK in aid of Revitalise!
That first 5k slog up and around the very steep Arthurs Seat set me on a path that transformed my own view of running and fitness and inspired me to try and get my Simplyhealth colleagues out running, while raising money for Revitalise along the way.
After twelve plus years of semi-retirement from racing, to suddenly be running distances up to half a marathon over fourteen weekends was likely to be an ask for my body to cope with. Indeed, returning from a long haul flight and immediately running a very hilly ten miles in May left me hobbling around for a couple of months, but the £1,000 fundraising target I had set myself was incentive enough to keep me going. I realised that to complete the whole series I would have to be careful, listen to my body and take care of myself – good rest and recuperation after each race was a must.
Running rather than racing at each event also gave me the opportunity to run into the crowd, soak up the atmosphere, high five some spectators, take in the sights and pace my colleagues to personal best times. Every race was different, but each has been joyful and often a humbling learning experience.
Cities that I had visited before were very different when viewed from within a crowd of 40,000 people. The love and support at each event carried me through, despite the majority of runs taking place in pretty hot conditions. Kids handing out sweets and chanting ‘oggy, oggy, oggy’ in tunnels, reading encouraging and often humorous banners and chatting to fellow runners about their incentive to run are just some of the many memories I will keep with me.
Often the challenges featured out and back sections so I would run along the road cheering on other runners, always on the look out for other people in the distinctive Revitalise vests. I’d also look out for the Revitalise team at their cheering point, who were encouraging us all. They often got a sweaty hug, whether they liked it or not!
For the final Simplyhealth Great South Run at Portsmouth in October I persuaded three of my colleagues to dress up as the city’s most famous son: Lord Nelson. The atmosphere was joyous, albeit that half the spectators thought we were pirates! That didn’t matter as we stopped for selfies, danced with the bands and generally had a great time.
After a year of hot weather for all the events, Storm Brian caused the cancellation of the 5k on the Saturday 21 October, before the Simplyhealth Great South Run the next day, so it was a great relief to be able to cross the line on Sunday, giving me an opportunity to reflect on one of the proudest achievements of my life.
Thanks to the generosity of people who pledged to support me with my fundraising, I smashed my target with £3,610 raised so far. The effort I put in was definitely worth it.
If I had to sum up my experience in three words they’d be: inspirational, humbling and exhausting!