Running the Rotary Clarendon Half Marathon, for MND – 1 Oct 23

I decided to enter the Rotary-organised Clarendon Half Marathon (Broughton to Winchester) only 12 days before the event, spurred on by the idea of trying to raise funds in support of research for the incredibly cruel and incurable Motor Neurone Disease (MND) which my sister-in-law, Alison, is severely ill with.

Though a runner, including having been the founding Chair of Worthy Runners for 8 years and participating in the Clarendon Relay 9 times, the Clarendon Half was always going to be very daunting, not helped by being away much of August with little running mileage, leaving only a short space of time to prepare for the very hilly, off-road 13.1 miles. I have done just one half marathon before but 15 years ago, which was pretty flat on-road, and I still struggled to get round, particularly with cramps. Now older but clearly no wiser, I wanted to see if I could tackle the Clarendon Half, my tenth involvement in the Clarendon events.

MND has received quite a lot of high profile visibility recently, notably due to Rugby legends Doddie Weir and Rob Burrow, but there is still no prevention or cure. MND happens when specialist nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, called motor neurones, stop working and die prematurely. It is relatively rare for women to get it and especially if there’s no reason.

Very tragically, Alison was diagnosed with MND in December 2021 and now needs full-time carers, is unable to move without help, uses a wheelchair, is confined to home, needs help with personal hygiene and needs forced air 24 hours a day to breath – that is pretty horrendous and not what you’d wish on your worst enemy. And, even worse still, her mind is as sharp as ever, so it must be like a living hell. Hence, extra funding is desperately needed to aid research for a cure and/or prevention.

Of the run itself, the conditions were good: both the weather and underfoot, but the hills weren’t so good for me! I found it mighty tough and particularly painful in the latter stages when I had to make a number of stops to stretch out severe multiple cramps, as I suspected I would have to do. It was undoubtedly the hardest run I have ever done, by far. But I got round, helped by thinking about my sister in law along the way and about all the generous donations.

With an initial target of £1000, which was then increased to £2500, this has raised over £5000 including gift aid, for which I and the MND Association are most grateful indeed – thank you so very much.

But it will be my last Clarendon Half!

Richard Spalding

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