This was quite an experience and one that I won’t forget. I’ll get the boring stuff out the way first completed it in 2.55hrs and came 566 out of 45,000 – I’m pretty proud of this, it was a right battle to get round but I made it.
The most empowering thing from the race was the sheer level of support out on the streets all round NY. What I couldn’t quite comprehend was the people who I didn’t know who were out there cheering me on with banners and words of support for the challenge of getting more people aware of the conflict in the DRC. This was really touching, I was in a city where I didn’t know anyone and yet there seemed to people round every block willing you on to the next mile marker.
I was sat on the plane on the way over to NY and I got chatting to this bloke next to me and we went through the pleasantries and he asked me about why I was running the marathon etc and I explained the various marathons that I had done this year and why I was doing them for the DRC.
He made quite an interesting point – he thought it would be much better for me to give all the money I’ve spent travelling to races and taking part in marathons straight to a charity rather than doing what I was doing.
I could understand where he was coming from, I’ve probably spent a bit of cash in taking part of these races. But what I don’t think he got was that it isn’t so much about just giving money to charities in the DRC and hoping the situation improves. In my opinion what is more powerful is actually getting people interested and aware of an issue and involved. This was demonstrated to me on Sunday as I ran round NY and in the hours before it when I received messages of support from people who now know about the DRC and the situation that many women and children now face. My aim has always been to get as many people as possible to be more interested and aware about the DRC and now with only one more run left, I like to think I’ve helped get a few more people to take an interest. It is only a start and there is a long way to go. I left the DRC in August 2009 feeling pretty guilty that I couldn’t do anything to help the people I met, especially as all I gave was the word sorry. There is only 1 more marathon to go, but the situation in the DRC still remains extremely unstable so it is so important that all of you who have taken an interest continue to be aware.
I want to go out with a bang with the final marathon in Luton on the 5th December. If anyone has any ideas for how I can get as much press and attention about this then please do let me know, I want as many people in the UK to be aware of the situation in the Congo. I’ll consider anything, fancy dress, running backwards, barefoot, you name it I’ll try it.
Looking forward to seeing you all on Saturday morning for the second UK RunForCongo run!