While running the Bristol 10K this morning (she says casually), I couldn’t help but be moved by the very many runners in charity t-shirts. They raised money and awareness for a tremendous range of fabulous causes, from the local St Peter’s Hospice (one of the Bristol 10K’s two main charities) to obscurities that I’d never heard of till then – though if I see them again, I’ll be more receptive to their appeals for having seen them in this context.
I love to run, but, like many runners, I need a major race in my diary to make me do it. To train for and complete the Bristol 10K, I needed a formal commitment to a charity that deeply affects my family – the JDRF, dedicated to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes, which my daughter contracted at the age of 3 and my husband in adulthood. When I wavered in my training, my sense of obligation to early sponsors kept me at it. (Aaren Purcell and Bill Chapman, you were the leaders in that race and I thought of you both on every training run.)
Of course, for those who are more naturally athletic, the running is the thing. What keeps them going is the constant striving for a new personal best, the new medal to add to their collection, the smart new race finisher t-shirt to boost their wardrobe of running clothes. Running to them is as blogging is to me: it’s my favourite hobby and I wouldn’t dream of asking anyone to pay me for it. (Though there may be a few who’d gladly pay me to stop…)
But to me, no matter how fulfilling the run, it’s a hugely wasted opportunity if you choose to trek round the route in a top that advertises only your favourite sportswear manufacturer or your last year’s holiday destination. Without a charity emblazoned on it, the runner’s chest is a wasted opportunity – an empty billboard, a bare bus-shelter. There are plenty of charities who will be grateful to you just to fly the flag and raise awareness, even if you’re not able to muster a bit of sponsorship. This simple, effortless act could persuade wavering donors to stump up some cash next time they are asked by that charity. The crowd will cheer you on all the more because of it. And if people then offer you money for the cause, so much the better.
Well, I’ve flown my JDRF flag, and now it’s in the washing machine. If you haven’t sponsored me yet but would like to, please feel free! Here’s the link: