Help for Heroes Bear by Alan McKinnon

Help for Heroes Bear by Alan McKinnon (May 2015)

Ok why did I do this? It started at last year’s MK Winter Half Marathon when after not getting the time I wanted (1:37 instead of a 1:35) I found after that I was on a real low, most of you that run will understand!

Anyway I made a promise to myself that I will never run another Marathon/half Marathon for me to get a time, instead I will do something different and challenging, as PB’s are history for me, 51st birthday next month.

So the first one was the MK festival 20 mile guiding Louise who is completely blind.

The week after was helping Emma to a PB time of 1:40 at Silverstone Half, taking a massive 4 minutes of her PB.

Then the full Marathon with Abi (Duracell Bunny) as she was doing her 7/7 Days! (I only did one with her)

So to Hero Bear, as I was booking the May half marathon about 6 weeks ago I thought to myself I should ask Mark the H4H (Help for Heroes) rep if there is anything he thinks I can do for the half that would help there charity? With a bit of a chuckle he replied “You can run in the Hero Bear costume?” Without even thinking, I am good at that, I said yes ok. Thinking to myself how hard can it be?

Mark said right I will send a request to HQ for the Bear costume to be here the week before the race, so that’s me I know what I am doing for the Half. At this time I had no idea what I was letting myself in for but with childlike naivety I started to prepare for this challenge by asking a friend Lisa if she wanted to run the half with me? Let me think about it was her reply.

Great start still never the less I just kept doing my running as often as possible out with RR on club runs and some with Lisa and solo runs. Eventually Lisa said yup let’s do it so did Sarah and Kerry. Great I had my team of helpers but still thinking I will just need them for a bit of motivation on the day, but the week before the race I went to collect the costume! OMG two things were apparent the instant I tried it on, first I could not see a thing out of it and second was that it was all so heavy but with no ventilation at all!

At this point and I will and have already said, if it not for Lisa Kerry and Sarah I would not have completed the course on the day.

Marathon day then, we all met at Lisa’s and got our self’s dressed ready (Some had more than other to put on!) But this is when I really started to get concerned about the lack of visibility as many other runners expect you to see them cut across you and presume you will just get out of their way, so I did let the girls know how worried I was about this and how little I could see. Their reply was typical “Don’t worry Mackaroo we will look after you” But said with a smirk.

Now with the Bears head on my head all I could see out of was the nose witch was a black foam mesh that looked down at about 20% so if someone was 5 feet in front of me I could just make out there backside but nothing to the sides up or down just this very hazy view through the nose.

So after all the photos we made our way to the start point with Lisa at the front Kerry to my left and Sarah to the right we set of, the girls were great shouting to other runners to give us room and moving people out the way, at this point I am still thinking, yes I got this no problem as we were moving at 9 min miles by the first mile and I could hear all the support from the crowds so all at this point was good, but then the first drama about mile 2, I had a camel back on with 3ltr of ice and water so thought drink time as by now the sweat was pouring out of me. Tube in my mouth and suck! Got nothing!! Suck some more still nothing! Suck like a Thai hooker on a bonus and still got nothing! Ok bin the camel back it’s now dead weight, so I asked Sarah and Kerry if they can give it to a young lad that comes to one of my clubs that was on the side of the road cheering us on. But unfortunately that was then the last time we saw Sarah and Kerry till very near the end.

Still Lisa was my rock and she just kept up the pace and kept almost every one clear of me but now I was starting to dehydrate and still a long way from the next water point, so she started shouting out as we ran if anyone had any water and luckily two runners handed their bottles to me (Whoever you were I am so grateful) as soon as I got both down me I started to sweat again, we then collected 2 bottles of water at the next water point and I got them inti me as well but by and mile 8 I was in trouble again! 2 things this time first the sun had come out and was shining onto the nose of the bear witch was now wet with sweat and breath so was dazzling me inside so all I could make out was two small pink stripes across Lisa’s arse when she kept to 5 feet in front any further or closer I lost all vision. Second was dehydrating again, thanks to Theresa Sholl Boreham who dived into her bag and gave us her own bottle of water to keep us going.

Mile 9 we collected more water and kept up the pace and by this time we were starting to overtake other runners and getting lots of encouragement from everywhere even other runners were cheering us on however I was starting to struggle a bit and feeling wobbly on my feet and thinking I can’t keep this pace so called to Lisa slow a little and she did well for about 100m lol but it was only because we had been climbing the hill towards mile 10 and I had no idea of any elevation on the whole run. Next thing was then coming into the lake area and that was just a nightmare as the path was so uneven and with not being able to see we had to stop so I could get even more water in me but then Sarah caught us back up. She asked if all ok and got a nod so of we went again but the bridges and that path were tough but we got out the lake area relatively unscathed, but I was now so exhausted it was only the constant encouragement from people cheering and Lisa keeping me going that I managed to keep running, as we came down past the KFC in the carpark my legs actually started to give way not helped by the speed bumps that I could not see but somehow I managed to keep them under me and just kept focusing on the two little pink stripes running in front of me, as we entered the stadium all I heard was this roar from the crowed, I thought I better put some effort in for them so started to sprint for the line or so I thought! My head was happy to do that at the end but my legs were having none of it! Still we got over the line in 2 hours and 1 second. Or should I say stumbled and collapsed over the line.

I don’t think I have ever been so exhausted or had to put so much into a run as I did on Monday. But it was so worth it remembering who for and why I was doing it!

I must say thanks to the 3 girls Kerry Sarah and especially Lisa thank you so much.

Redway Runners – I did not see many of you but I sure heard you all.

And to the race marshals and organisers, fantastic day thank you.

Sgt Mack.