I'm an aspiring writer living in Essex. I have recently graduated from Portsmouth University, studying English Literature and Film Studies. Visit my blog sealreviews.blogspot.co.uk
On Sunday October 28th, on a bright sunny morning when most people were in bed sleeping off hangovers, thousands of people will take to the streets of Southsea in Portsmouth to partake in one of the most famous events in Hampshire, The Bupa Great South Run. Some of them were wearing bizarre looking costumes, others in the worst colour coordinated outfits possible, but each and every one of them with a gruelling 10 mile challenge that consisted of extreme perspiration, potential blisters and John Wayne style chaffing.
So what is the appeal of running? Running comes from primal instinct, where we would run and hunt after animals we wanted to eat, and run from things that wanted to hunt and eat us. Nowadays we run for recreation and relaxation, which in many people's opinions will sound unnecessary and absurd. I was the same throughout the first two years at University, and found any form of exercise a challenge and certainly never something that I would consider a hobby.
I personally feel more at home sitting in with a takeaway, stretched horizontally on the sofa with a larger in one hand and the television controls in the other. It is safe to say that exercise and fitness during my first two years at University was my kryptonite. Towards the end of my second year however, I along with several fellow out of shape students agreed to sign up for The Great South Run, each of us either ambitious or extremely foolish. So what was I letting myself in for? Was this a seemingly impossible task or would I be able to change my lackadaisical way?
The day started like any other: rolling over in bed not wanting to get up, setting the snooze button for an extra precious ten minutes of sleep, not caring about the day ahead. Then suddenly the realisation hit me, that I would begin running ten miles in the next two hours, the snoozing had to stop. After a spaghetti breakfast that would even turn the stomach of most Italians, I donned my best trainers, shorts and florescent t-shirt and got set for the gruelling challenge ahead. Limbering up quickly and applying Vaseline to the necessary regions (with concerning ease if I may say so), I took the long walk from my house in Portsmouth to the starting line about a mile away, full of dread and anxiety and looking like a terrified lubricated Jellybaby.
Before I knew it I was at the starting line, and then the dread really set in. What was I doing? How had I ended up here? A few kind words of inspiration from fellow runners and the megaphone announcer, the race preparation began with an enthusiastic warm up by Strike from Britain's got Talent (I will pause while you Google them). After that I was ready and with a chorus of You Raise me Up was willing to get started. Crossing the starting line to Nesendorma I was pumped and eager to start, reading take on any challenges that I could, just once I had lubricated my nipples for the second time of the morning.
So it began, 10 miles of Portsmouth tarmac laid ahead of me and the main concern running through my mind was very simple: please don't let me get overtaken by a man dress as a banana. The course was long and gruelling, yet what made it possible was the crowd. They appeared in their hundreds offering 'high fives' and motivational songs to spur each runner on, they were fantastic. After 10 miles and overtaking several bananas, superheroes and Mario Brothers, I saw the finish line.
Every last inch of me ached, but I muscled through the pain and finished the course in 1 hour 22 minutes. Bathed in sweat and displaying blisters, I immediately wrapped myself in the tinfoil sheet that makes you feel like a chicken drumstick and began the slow and robotic walk home. I had never felt exhilaration like that before, everyone one running put in everything they had to cross that line, and I can proudly say that I was one of them. After the walk home and several energy drinks later, I jumped straight back into bed and I fell asleep for a week.
However despite my complaining about having to take part in the run, the most significantly important aspect of the event was not who got the fastest time, or who ran in the most outrageously flamboyant costume, but it was the thousands of pounds that were raised for numerous charities by all those who took part. Without these mad people donning their vests and skimpy shorts, charities in the UK and indeed all over the world would not be provided with the necessary support that they require to complete their goals, whether it is fighting disease, accommodating for those who are terminally ill or assisting those in emotional or psychological need. So if you know anyone who is mad enough to complete the run, or if you even fancy the challenge, sign up next year for The Bupa Great South Run. Or if not, help by sponsoring them a small amount of money when they take part next year or in other running events around the country, it really will help change lives.
So sign up this year for the 2012 Bupa Great South Run – you don't have to be the fittest person (as I proved) but the whole event was a memorable one, and something that will stay with me forever.