Most of us will go through life never having run further than a few laps of the school field (usually under protest). But what would it take to make you run 10km?
- advance warning that you’re standing next to a ticking time bomb whose debris will fall within a 9.9999km radius?
- a race to pick up a jackpot winning lottery ticket that you know is lying under a stone 10km away?
- a fast-moving forest fire that is chasing you towards a river 10km distant?
This may strike you as a hypothetical question – a bit like the old playground favourite, “would you rather run a mile, jump a stile or eat a country pancake?” I remember, in my unathletic childhood, aged about 8, falling for that one and choosing the country pancake – to the mirth of my interrogator, who revealed that “country pancake” is rural slang for cow-pat. (I must say that since I’ve been living in the country, never once have I heard it referred to as such. Though I still might not risk opting for the pancake option on a country pub dessert menu, just in case.)
But I daresay there is a cause somewhere close enough to your heart that might persuade you.
I know I’ve found mine. In six weeks time, I’ll be running 10km, but not for any of those reasons (well, they’re not part of my plan, anyway). My reason is to raise money and fly the flag for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). My daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 3, and that day our lives changed for ever. Gone were the blissful days of being able to eat what she liked, when she liked. Gone were the low-maintenance days of being able to travel everywhere with a small handbag uncluttered with hypodermics and hypo remedies. (I’d only just got rid of the nappy bag, too.) Gone were the carefree days of visiting hospital only for the usual childhood A&E trips. Getting a doll’s shoe stuck up your nose is a walk in the park compared to the unmissable daily routine of blood tests and injections. Such ailments don’t put you at risk of serious long term complications, either, other than perhaps a fear of tiny footwear and long-handled tweezers.
For now, there is no cure for Type 1 diabetes. We’re stuck with the daily inconvenience, pain and stress of treating the symptoms, and the long-term angst about the eventual effects on her health. It has got easier with time: at least she no longer hides under the kitchen table and sits on her hands when we’re trying to prick her fingers for the blood tests.
But there could be a cure, if enough more money were thrown at the problem. There are many extraordinarily gifted and imaginative scientists who are poised to take their research on to the next step, if only funds permit. That their research is funded and cure found is important not only for my small family, but for the millions of children (and the adults that they become) who are suffering the potentially devastating long-term effects of living with diabetes. And for the many children who die before adulthood because they live in countries where the treatment they require is simply not available or affordable.
If I could cure this terrible disease just by running (and what a strange world that would be), then I’d run and run and never stop till I reached the cure. But at least running the Bristol 10k – and the sponsorship I might raise and the publicity I can attract – will take us a babystep along the road to a permanent solution.
And it beats eating a country pancake any day.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like The Best Reason to Run.
Or indeed if you need an excuse to eat pancakes, you might like Something to Celebrate!