In 2011 I watched my son, and then in 2012 my daughter, complete the Great North Run for the first time. I stupidly cried out "I am going to do this next year!"
I always say I am going to do things and then chicken out, but NOT this time (much to the surprise of my hubby, Neil). I had a great reason to complete this challenge and to go all the way. I wanted to raise money for MS. I thought it would be nice to raise funds for the MS Trust who do a fantastic job helping those living with MS.
My older brother Douglas was diagnosed with MS in his early 30s. This devastated my mum as she had a sister and a nephew with the disease and I think she blamed herself in some way. Douglas is my inspiration. He is determined to fight MS and puts a lot of his time into helping others. He zip wired off the Tyne Bridge to do his bit to raise funds and if he can do that then I can do my bit to help too.
To say I was never a 'runner' is an understatement, but at 56 years of age I took on a training programme and joined a local running club, Run England in Consett. I also joined the Newcastle University Business School 'Bizzies', a small group of Great North Run runners, all running for different causes. As part of our training plan, 'Team Bizzies' completed the Sunderland City Half Marathon BQ Team Relay, with me running the 5K leg - my first ever.
I did a 10K run at Druridge Bay and Alnwick, and the scenery more than made up for the pain! I also completed the Tynedale Jelly Tea 10 Mile at Hexham on 1 September 2013, but I honestly could not have done any of these without the support and encouragement of Consett Run England, the 'Team Bizzies' and of course my family, friends and colleagues who were more than generous with their time and money. To help the fundraising along I organised bake sales, an Easter egg and a Christmas raffle, and all in all managed to more than double the £300 I had set as my target.
I thought that would be it after the Great North Run, but this year I have signed up for the 26-mile Northumberland Coastal Challenge Walk which takes place on 5 May 2014 - walking is more my style! Although I still keep up with the running to keep fit and because I am bullied by friends! I am really looking forward to the walk and have set to with a new training regime.
I just want to help in any way I can to help those living with MS, they are the real inspiration.
'Team Bizzies' before the Great North Run (I am the one on the far right)