I’m in Hong Kong with work, been up since 3 am with dreaded jet lag and have tried everything, including the gym, so please excuse any poor writing (worse than normal !).
I signed up to the 516 miles challenge in January 2016 mostly, not because of the actual challenge but I really liked the approach to fundraising. Having done fundraising twice in last 5 years I know how hard it is and really looked for as many ways as possible to raise the money without the dreaded email. This approach caught my eye as it was quite simple as it drew on the popularity of virtual races with a long term achievement goal that was doable but required commitment.
Basically, run 516 miles in a calendar year, no Garmin auditing, just trust and fill in a monkey colouring in chart to show progress. Post it on Facebook when finished and a medal arrives in the post!
The two charities being sponsored were MNDA and Bowel Cancer UK. I don’t know a lot about Bowel Cancer UK but I have been impressed with the MNDA approach to fundraising and creating a real team atmosphere amongst the fundraisers. Plus they get to wear fluo orange skirts which is always a plus!
So £10 entry fee, no admin charge taken and off you go and at last look at the page roughly 500 people had completed so £5k raised at least (minus I guess the cost of the medals) + those who entered and didn’t complete. In an age of fundraising being, I think quite hard, wow!
So, how did it impact me???
At the start of the year I created a little spreadsheet! (Come on, we all love a great spreadsheet!!!) and plonked all my races down for the year (4 marathons and 2 Ultras) and thought that would be that. Nope, looks like I may need to do a bit more running than that then.
Through Q1 I didn’t really give it a second thought. I was training for London and MK marathons so was just taking any opportunity to go out for a run so the miles were adding up nicely. I was trying little and often as a training plan so lots of Excel entries but the mileage total took a while to get going.
Through March and April with the 3 marathons the mileage got a good kick and I was feeling good about the mileage. I then took my foot of the gas to allow my body to recuperate before hitting endure 24 and race to the Kings which again gave the mileage a decent uplift but with the smaller runs inbetween missing, not as much as I thought.
The summer came and went (I had great plans that never quite happened), Sept and Oct I got a promotion at work which took up any spare time. Had a great time round the cognac marathon and still had 50 odd miles to complete the challenge.
To me, this is where the challenge got me over the line! The Facebook page post a congratulations post whenever someone completes. Apart from the the running gods who finished it in February, the majority started rolling in from July/August with a real flow in sept/oct. Now I don’t consider myself a serious runner, but the competitive juices started flowing that I dindn’t want to be last again. So the last 50 miles were completed by lots of trips to the gym to get the last few miles eek’d out and completed! Honestly, I don’t think I would have run those last 50 miles without this challenge.
At the start of the year I’d wanted it done before we rolled into to December, thinking I would have it done by the summer! Finished on 25 November with 4.8 treadmill run to complete the challenge! One of out two isn’t bad!
Was I as proud as at the end of an actual race? You know what, yes if not a bit more! I can survive most races (As long as time limit not too agressive) and this felt like a real commitment to getting to the total that was more than just a Sunday morning run.
Am I more proud of this medal than a marathon medal? Not sure, marathons play nasty little games on your mind which makes them tough whatever anyone says but this challenge was close.
Will I take a closer look at virtual races in the future? Yes, for someone that needs a virtual kick up the ass to lace my trainers these are a great way of doing it whilst raising money for charity.
If you fancy the 516 challenge next year please look up the 516 challenge 2017 on Facebook and sign up and get colouring in your chart!!!
Thank you very much Mary for organising the challenge and I hope it was as successful or more than you hoped for the charities you were raising money for.