Thursday, 17 February 2011

This is why a lot of people run

Charity running is a sticky subject. Millions, if not billions of pounds are raised every year through sponsored running events, and the knock-on effects for the charity and running sectors (and my facebook feed!) are profound. Like you, I get a lot of requests for sponsorship from people running marathons or other events, and like you, perhaps, I sometimes struggle to find enthusiasm for all of them. So I've had a thought and I think I've worked out my ideal formula for a sponsorship request...

  • To my mind people should only really request sponsorship for events where their own input, in terms of training, dedication, sacrifice, perseverance, bravery and other great abstract nouns, is equivalent to the amount of cash they’re trying to raise. Essentially, it has to be a challenge.
  • A sense of scale is important. I probably won’t give you money for a 5k if you’re an experienced half-marathoner, for instance. But if you’ve never run before and have worked hard to run a 5k time you can be proud of, then you definitely deserve a few quid. 
  • Like many people, I prefer to see requests from people who’ve chosen charities which mean something to them, and will really motivate them to achieve their goal. 
  • And lastly, I love to see requests where people have personalised the challenge, or somehow made it harder. Like running in an enormous costume, running in a ludicrously heavy costume, or running in not very much costume at all...

I would sponsor this guy. I wouldn't run behind him, though...
When a friend of mine entered an 18-mile race to raise money for a hospice which cared for his nephew, sponsoring him made perfect sense, particularly since a) he’d never run more than 7 miles, despite being an excellent track athlete, and b) he was pushing his 10-year-old nephew the entire distance in his wheelchair. The event had two categories of entrant: 'ordinary' runners and runners pushing wheelchairs. It wasn't until some time after the event - and well after I'd sponsored him - that my friend told me that he'd actually won the wheelchair event. Absolutely worth my cash, no doubt.

When a colleague asked for sponsorship for his kilomathon, I was initially sceptical. Though not a runner, he is clearly an athlete, with a rugby player's frame. Probably a second row. Maybe even number eight. Then I learnt that he’d never run more than 12k in his life, and that the kilomathon (26k) was only the start. Two weeks later he would enter ‘Survival of the Fittest’, a 10k urban obstacle course, and two weeks after that, he would climb Ben Nevis. He completed the last task of his ‘month of pain’ with his knee strapped up, feet ruined and physio exasperated. Unsatisfied with his kilomathon time over what was a truly brutal course, he immediately registered to do it again. Doubtless worth a few quid.

When another friend who had already completed a number of distance events was seeking sponsorship for her Land’s End to John O’ Groats cycle, again I was more than happy to put my hand in my pocket. Particularly since she was a) doing it unsupported, b) doing it for a charity she loved, Childreach, and c) was also going to summit 10 hills, tors or munros whose first letters spelled out C-H-I-L-D-R-E-A-C-H, in the correct order, along the route, on her bike. Here’s my cash, no trouble at all. Childreach wrote about her on their website, check it out here.

So when, in a few days or possibly next week, I post about a charity fundraising race that I’m planning, it would be hypocritical of me to do anything but something pretty special. Watch this space.

Happy running


2011 to date
 - miles: 150.64, parkruns: 2, races: 0 

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