Every year since 2010, some time in the autumn in Sheffield’s Endcliffe Park, there’s a 10k run to raise money for Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity, and every year since 2012, Tim’s Team has taken part.
That first time, Tim was there with us, cheering us on. We wore yellow rosettes made by one of the team members, and Tim gave each of us a handwritten note afterwards, telling us how much it meant to him.
We hadn’t set up Inspiration for Life at that point, but soon afterwards we launched the charity, and started fundraising for not only Weston Park but also other local cancer charities such as Rotherham Hospice and Impact Young Heroes. That run was in many ways the start of it all, the point when Tim inspired us to do something for him and to make a difference to other people in his situation.
By the time of the 2013 run we’d lost Tim but we ran anyway, and again in 2014, and this year we had 21 runners. Not everyone who has run for us since 2012 knew Tim – you didn’t have to know him to be inspired by what he started, or to want to support the work of Weston Park. But this year in particular we were joined by colleagues from the department of Urban Studies & Planning, running for their own friend and colleague, Victoria Henshaw, who died of cancer just a year ago. We also had three colleagues from the University’s Public Engagement team, who’ve been amazing supporters of the charity over the last few years, particularly in relation to our flagship event, the 24 Hour Inspire.
The Endcliffe Park 10k isn’t the easiest of runs, even for those for whom running 10k is a breeze. The route takes in a grassy field, roads, woodland paths complete with tree roots where you have to watch your footing and go in single file, paths through the park where you have to negotiate the occasional dog or child on a bike, and try not to fall into the pond.
And then there’s that hill. A steep grassy slope – tricky to run up even when it’s been dry for weeks. When it’s wet, and particularly on lap 2 when it’s been churned up by 1000 runners already… It’s quite a challenge.
It’s perhaps not too fanciful to see this particular route as a metaphor for life, for the way in which you need to adapt, rethink, change your pace as circumstances change. And the way in which you sometimes need to take a deep breath, brace yourself and run up that hill, as best you can, and if you can’t run it, then walk or crawl or drag yourself up it somehow, whatever gets you to the top.
What got me to the top was knowing that I was running to support my friend, who’d been given a far harder route to follow than just a steep and slippery hill.
But it’s important for me to acknowledge that I didn’t complete the 10k in 2012. I was so far behind the rest of the runners that when I completed my first lap, there were no marshals to direct me to lap 2, and I found myself crossing the finish line. I decided then to stop. I did initially feel a sense of failure. But by the time I’d rejoined the team members who’d already finished, and Tim, who was waiting for us all to cross the finish line, I didn’t care. I’d run 5k, and I’d run it with friends and colleagues, and I’d run it for Tim and for my Mum, and for all the people I’ve cared about over the years who’ve had to face that cruel and arbitrary disease. I made the right call. These days I play to my strengths and organise other people to do the actual running. But I treasure the official record of the 2012 race, which shows my time as a highly impressive (and improbable) 45 minutes …
Catherine Annabel, Chair of Inspiration for Life
Tim’s Team 2015 was: Aldous Everard (our first runner to cross the finish line, pictured above), Jacob Albon, Simon Beecroft, Saida Caballero, Ashley Cadby, Clea Carroll, Anneka Girtchen, Liam Hardy, Ines Henriques, Cath Jackson, Susan Jarvis, Martin McAllister, Fran Marshall, Paula Meth, Ana Morales Garcia, Greg Oldfield, Bryony Olney, Jon Perkin, Dave Sahman, Nicola Strafford, Lee Thompson
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