I love to race and last year picked up more medals than I can count, but times change and this year I've got to be a bit more choosy about how I spend my time, I can't gallivant around the country chasing after bling every weekend and instead have opted to carefully select just a few special races to run.
I've narrowed my selection down to just three races, two I've done before and am returning to for various reasons, and one new, but very special one.
I've already completed one race, the London Winter Run, which I ran at the end of January with my Dad. I really like to run with my Dad from time to time, it's nice that we have something we can do together, and we chose the Winter Run because he was pretty enthused by the idea of polar bears and snow zones. Clearly the gimmicks work. It was a great day (I do have a blog post about it somewhere that my Mum wrote...really should get that one up) and a race I'd always recommend.
The second race I've chosen is Run Hackney on 8 May 2016. I have so much love for this race after last year, and I'm really excited that so many people I know are running it too (hey Mike!). It should be a fantastic day out and I can't wait to experience the atmosphere again.
The third race I'll be running is the Royal Parks Half Marathon on 9 October 2016, possibly one of the most iconic races in the UK calendar and one I've had my eye on for awhile. It lands at the perfect time, just at the start of the autumn term, so I've got a nice clear run of time to train over the summer, and the route through the Royal Parks and around Central London is just stunning. I can't think of many better places to run.
What's going to make the Royal Parks Half Marathon even more special is that I'll be running as part of Team Unicef. Unicef UK do amazing work helping children in danger all over the world, focusing their work on five key areas; violence, exploitation and abuse, disease, hunger and malnutrition, war and conflict and disaster. I think I've known about
the work of Unicef for as long as I can remember. I recall my Mum explaining to me that it was an organisation which helped children and when I was at school a number of friends were supported by Unicef after their families were forced to flee conflict in their home country. During my undergraduate degree my dissertation was underpinned by the United Nations International Convention on the Rights of the Child (which underpins all of Unicef's work) and I became really aware of how important it is that there's a politically neutral organisation out there looking out for those with the least power.
It's not common for me to use my runs to fundraise, but this is different. Unicef is an organisation that means a lot to me, so I'll make an exception and try and raise as much as I can to help keep their work going. Did you know that £400 could help Unicef respond rapidly to the needs of 22 children in Syria displaced or affected by the conflict? £400 feels like a pretty achievable target really. So I'm going to put the challenge out there, who'll come and run Royal Parks Half Marathon with me and try to raise at least £400 each?
This video explains pretty clearly why your support is so important to children, and if we get together we could do a lot of good.
So rise to the challenge and sign up here. Unicef will be on hand the whole time to support you (trust me the team are lovely) and I've got a few ideas up my sleeve, so make sure you let me know if you've signed up!
*I've partnered up with Unicef UK to help encourage as many of you lot to join Team Unicef as possible. This is an organisation I'm genuinely passionate about and all opinions are my own. Images courtesy of Unicef UK*