Jo’s Update: “Liverpool was wet”…

Jo Cooke running in the wetYou may have been wondering how FSSC‘s Jo Cooke is getting on with her 10 x half marathon challenge. Well, here she is with an update…

“Well that’s 3 Half Marathons done now!!!

  • Jan 18th – Inskip – 1:58:17
  • Feb 15th – Liversedge – 2:04:08
  • Mar 29th – Liverpool – 1:58:44

Boy, Liversedge was a hilly half, a great day and had some local support from the FSSC which was great. Considering the hills I was chuffed to get the time I did…

Jo on the roadLiverpool was wet, very, very wet… it felt like a wet suit and flippers would have been more appropriate gear to wear!!  But a great atmosphere and I managed to get in under the 2 hour mark, although I’ve got some impressive blisters on my left foot to show for it!!

So my next challenge is on 26th April in Blackpool, right along the Prom, Prom, Prom!!  Please all send good thoughts or prayers that the weather will be kind!

I’ve got 3 more after Blackpool booked in and confirmed…  they are:

  • 14th June                      Liverpool Rock n Roll Half
  • 9th August                    Isle of Man
  • 13th September           The Great North Run

So I have to find a July, October and November or December one to make up my 10!

As ever, a big thanks to all of those that have donated so far; with your generosity and support I’m at a fantastic £895 which is absolutely brilliant, I’m still overwhelmed with the support you’ve given so far and even more determined to get through the next 7!!”

Here’s the link to Jo’s JustGiving page – let’s help her reach her £1000 target!

Good luck to you for Sunday Jo, and our London Marathon participants!

Jo, at Regent’s Park yesterday I spotted there’s a Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon in London in October, if you fancy a trip down to the big smoke? The public ballot has closed, but the website says there may be some charity spaces up for grabs and Cancer Research is one of the charities this race is supporting…

Posted in Charity Fundraising, Running, Sport | Leave a comment

Conquering the Wild Elephant Trail

Megan Running  in Sri LankaWe have news from Megan! Our intrepid runner from Bertrams gives us a personal account of her latest adventures…

So, I made it back safe and sound and very nearly in one piece from Sri Lanka!

I’m not really sure where to start with the details of the race, so let me start with the place…

Sri Lanka is beautiful, the range of scenery, the incredibly friendly people and the wonderful animals along the way are just a few things that will stay in my mind forever when I think fondly back to exploring this amazing country. I would recommend anyone go there!

Pre race blessing

Pre-race blessing

Day One: In at the deep end

The race, for me, was not quite so beautiful for the most part. Everyone has one race where everything that can go wrong goes wrong – this race was mine. On day one, we were blessed by Buddhist Monks before setting off to the start line. It was a very special start to what was to become a very tough week!

We set off later on the first morning than on any other, and we crossed the start line at nearly 8am. I know this doesn’t seem late, but we soon learned that the heat of the day started to make running uncomfortable from around 8:30-9am, so we were thrown straight in at the deep end on this one!

Stages 1-3: Adjusting to the heat

Stages 1-3 ranged from 22.5 miles to 26 miles, with checkpoints around 6 miles apart (as they were all week) to refill with water. I felt pretty strong for the first couple of days of the race, although it was clear at the end of stage one that my body was still adjusting to the heat. I was doing a combination of running and walking, largely running the first portion of the day and finishing the day with a march to the finish line.

I was lucky enough to have great company when walking, which made the time (and the miles) pass more quickly. We saw fruit bats (sleeping), monkeys, giant iguanas and many beautiful birds along the way and ran/walked alongside fields and temples, through villages and by rivers covered with lily pads.

During these stages, we camped in the grounds of a temple, stayed on the floor of houses of families in local villages and slept in the rooms of an Elephant Research Centre, where I could actually hear elephants in the distance as I fell asleep.

Resting our feet at a camp in a local village

Stage 3: Things start to go very wrong

Stage 3 was extended slightly due to elephants moving in the area we were supposed to camp in, although ending up in the Elephant Research Centre certainly made it less of a hardship!

This is the stage where things started to go very wrong, very quickly for me. I was very ill during the night leading into Stage 3, so woke having had very little sleep and with no calories from the previous day to work from. I struggled to take on water throughout the day, which was rough.

When I hit checkpoint 3, my spirits were lifted by the sight of a few other runners that I had caught up with and a small hut selling some drinks. A bottle of coke and a walk and a joke with my tent mate, who I also know from a previous race, was enough to make me feel a lot brighter, and with no more sickness incidents I was ready to run by the time we hit the shaded hill up to a temple and back down to camp.

I crossed the finish line feeling a lot stronger than when I started the day, though I was still struggling to eat. As the sickness passed, I became more aware of some pain in my foot, as early into this stage I landed heavily on a rock that was sticking out of the ground. I saw it, but I didn’t register it in time and the impact was on the ball of my foot.

Having done similar before with no issues, I assumed the pain I felt when I did it was bruising, and the sickness throughout the day distracted from it. That evening however, it started to hurt.

Stage 4: The long stage

A water crossing

A water crossing

Then came stage 4, the long stage. I was feeling more nervous than usual about tackling this stage. I was very aware of the lack of calories in my system from the sickness the day before, and I was very aware of the pain in my foot. But, putting the pain down to bruising and putting extra food in my pack for the day I went to the start line.

Being a slower runner, I had the luxury of starting this stage earlier than the front-runners. The staggered start of the long stage is standard in these races. My plan for the day was simple; hit the first 2 checkpoints by 9:30am to give myself a fighting chance of running to checkpoint 3 before the heat picked up and then march on.

I had a strong start to this stage, passing through the first checkpoint in an hour and the next just over an hour. I hit the 3rd checkpoint just as the first male and female caught up with us. I passed through the last 2 checkpoints and had intended to run the final 8km of the day.

My right shoe had been getting increasingly uncomfortable throughout the day, though I hadn’t realised why, and the combination of this and the discomfort of the heat meant I couldn’t run. When I was just over a mile away from camp, I made the decision to take my shoes off and ran the very last part of the long stage in my socks. I was not very happy or comfortable when I crossed the finish line.

On stopping, I realised that it was actually pretty painful to put weight on my right foot, which by now had swollen and a lot of bruising had come out. I was given ice packs to put on my feet by the medical team while I ate, but the pain got worse as the evening went on and it was getting harder to walk.

Just one of the wildlife!

Just one of the wildlife!

Stage 5: The people, a brilliant medical team and a kind volunteer

Stage 5 was a mere 15 miles, a distance we had all been looking forward to after the longer miles. Unfortunately, my foot had got worse overnight and I struggled to put any weight on it. When things like this happen, and you are this tired, in this much pain and you don’t know what to do, you realise one of the main reasons these races are so enjoyable – the people.

In my mind, if you finish the long stage, you don’t give up no matter what. Luckily for me, there was a brilliant medical team, who strapped up my foot and helped find a solution when my foot was too big to fit in my trainer.

There was a very kind volunteer, who lent me her sandal in place of my trainer so that I had something to protect the bottom of my foot and wonderful racers, who offered me poles to use as support/crutches. So, after all the very humbling support, I hobbled off to start my day.

Some fantastic company, a water crossing, an ice cream, rain, roads and a small incident of getting lost later, I finally reached camp with 2 other runners, who were either suffering from blisters or injury. I couldn’t have been happier to see tents and a group of runners sitting under a shelter to avoid the rain.

After a small dip in the ‘Jacuzzi’ (a roadside river with a water tunnel which created a kind of whirlpool) and some food, I sat chatting with the wonderful runners who had been so supportive that morning before heading to the tent to get some sleep before the last little push.

Stage 6: The last little push

Stage 6, the final stage was 9.4 miles, including around 1800 steps to climb to the top of the Sigiriya Rock. I hobbled along at the back of the group accompanied by my awesome tent mate, who walked every slow step of that last day with me.

It was a slow and painful day, and the steps proved particularly difficult, but the company made it so much more bearable and we shared a lot of laughs through the last miles of the race.

34 hours 55 minutes and 52 seconds after crossing the start line I finally made it across the finish.

Back in the UK

Pre-race blessing - just one of Megan's abiding memories

Pre-race blessing and some of the people from the race – just one of Megan’s abiding memories of Sri Lanka

Since I’ve been back in the UK, I’ve learned that I badly damaged the joints of the second metatarsal in my right foot and have a hairline crack across it too. I’ve not been allowed to run yet or walk much, and while I’m no longer hobbling, it still hurts to walk.

As a result, I had to cancel the 44 mile race in Exmoor, which was very disappointing. I am still hopeful that I will recover in time to complete the London Marathon a week on Sunday, but I can’t be sure at the moment – fingers crossed!!

Wow Megan, what grit and determination you have! Here’s to a full and swift recovery for you and your foot. May your next adventure be a much smoother path :)

After that little lot, Megan thoroughly deserves another link to her JustGiving Page.

Posted in Charity Fundraising, Endurance & Obstacle Races, Running, Sport | Leave a comment

(no more) Run Away…

Michael Williams Brighton Marathon

This is us at mile 17

We have news from Michael Williams at Rowan House! He and co-runner Emily Clayton managed to successfully complete the Brighton Marathon on April 12th (almost) intact…

“It was a brilliant day with glorious sunshine, huge support from spectators and everyone seemed to know my name (which helped no end).

We’ve raised £3062.78 (including Gift Aid) for Cancer Research which we are dumbfounded by. You’ve all been very generous. Thank you.

Last answers to questions:

  •  I ache. A lot.
  • The last 5 miles were REALLY tough but the last mile was amazing
  • Of course I sprinted for the line
  • 4:11:58 (I’m pretty pleased with that)

Thanks again.”

Fantastic news Michael! I love the huge grins in your photo!

Posted in Charity Fundraising, Running, Sport | Leave a comment

John Enters the Rat Race

John Bartle before the rat raceIt’s wonderful to welcome our first blog post from Tuffnells Parcels Express, with news of what sounds like a tough challenge!

John Bartle – a Bulk Driver at the Dewsbury depot – is taking part in the Rat Race Dirty Weekend on 9th May at Burghley House near Peterborough. Classed by the organisers as an “Adventure Run”, this is the world’s longest assault comprising 20 miles with 200 monstrous obstacles for participants to negotiate. Burghley is well-known for its horse trials, I wonder what they make of the Rat Race!

John has pledged to raise £500 for his chosen charity, Children With Cancer UK, a charity dedicated to fight all children’s cancers.

It’s sounds quite an event you’re taking on there John! Good luck with your endeavours and we look forward to hearing how you got on :)

Posted in Charity Fundraising, Endurance & Obstacle Races, Running, Sport | 1 Comment

Welcome Back!

We hope you had a great Easter break and have come back raring to go with all your Community Link-Up activities! We have some great events lined up for the coming months.

Trans Pennine Hike logoOur next flagship event is the Trans Pennine Hike, a 26 mile hike through the Peak District’s gorgeous scenery in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.  You can find full details via the link. NB the closing date for entries is Thursday 30th April. It’s not too late to don your boots and get into training for July!

Remember we donate a further £20 to your good causes for each story featured here on Community Link-Up, so do send us your news and photos!

Posted in Charity Fundraising, Flagship Fundraiser, Sport, Trans Pennine Hike, Walking

Easter Eggs, Chocolates, a Rabbit and a Duck

Easter treats at Rowan HouseRowan House‘s Maria Ogbourne continues with her fundraising for the British Heart Foundation and has news of her plans and efforts for this year, after 2014’s successful walk.

She’s still pondering her ‘big’ event as her doctor said no to a tandem sky dive, so in the meantime she dreamt up some Easter-themed fun at £1 per go:

  • Pick a Heart Song. 25 songs for each of 6 delicious Easter egg or chocolate treats. If your song is in the envelope, you win.
  • Name the Easter Duck. Select a name and if it’s the winning name in the envelope, you win the Easter Duck. Enter as many times as you wish.
  • The Rabbit & The Hat. Put your name in the hat and if your name is pulled out you win a White Swiss Chocolate Easter Rabbit. Enter as many times as you wish.

They’re simple, but effective ideas which can be adapted and used elsewhere at any time :)

Maria’s efforts netted a fantastic £198 for her chosen charity.

Congratulations to the winners, especially those who have some yummy chocolate to enjoy! All  that remains is to thank Maria for telling us about her ideas and to wish everyone a Happy Easter!

Posted in Charity Fundraising, Sweepstakes | 1 Comment

Bath Men’s Walk Tackles Some “Tough and Challenging Terrain”

David Stanley brings us news and superb photos from Bath Men’s Walk

“On Saturday 21st March, a 15 man team from The Consortium in Trowbridge joined 478 men and boys taking part in the third Bath Men’s Walk and show their support for two local charities.

The eight-mile event, which started at Winsley and finished at the Rec in Bath, was organised by Bath Rugby Foundation and Dorothy House Hospice Care.    The weather couldn’t have been any better with bright spring sunshine throughout the day.

Bath Men's Walk Collage

Taking 3 hours to complete over some very tough and challenging terrain (tow paths), we were finally greeted with a well deserved pie and a pint ready to watch the big game, England vs France in the 2015 Six Nations Campaign, at the Rec.

The team has already smashed their target of £750 with £900 already raised.  This money will be equally split between both charities.

A big thank you to everyone who took part and most importantly those who supported us in raising money for such worthy charities.”

Posted in Charity Fundraising, Sport, Walking | 1 Comment

All Systems Go at Connect Books

Frances Plant gives us the lowdown on what’s been happening over at Connect Books this month, plus some pointers to future events. Not only is there a lot going on over in Norwich, there are lots of different charities being supported…

March has been the month for lots of fundraising, charity and fun events!  I thought I would give you an update on all the activities going on and how the fundraising has been going so far.  Plus there’s information on how staff at Connect Books can get involved in upcoming events.

Completed Events

Charity Quiz

Sarah Barkham (BLS) held a Charity Quiz on Saturday 14th March in aid of the Norfolk Renal Unit at the NNUH.  Tickets were just £3 per person, with teams up to 6 people.

Gold Cup Cheltenham

Tim Stone (Buying) organised a little competition for Gold Cup Friday. It was a bit of fun, so staff didn’t need to know anything about horses! It was only £1 to enter and just needed a prediction of the first 3 horses.

The rules: Predicting the winner correctly scored 10 points;  5 points if in the correct placing for second or third; 2 points if predicted, but finished in a different place. Thus a maximum 25 points was up for grabs and the winner was the person with the most points. If more than one person has the same highest points, the prize pot was shared evenly.

Editor’s note: This could be something for other locations to consider for e.g. the Grand National? It’s a bit different to the usual sweepstake…

Ultra Marathon

Megan Davies (Marketing) tackled her latest fundraising challenge by running in the wilderness of Sri Lanka for Sarcoma UK.

Editor’s note: Megan has raised £847 so far, according to her JustGiving Page. If all’s well, her challenges next month are a return to the Exmoor Ultra, plus the London Marathon!

Cake Sale (The warm up)

Sam Bence (Contracts Manager) also held a mini cake sale earlier this week to help his girlfriend raise funds for Oxfam.  The cakes raised an amazing £100.90, which will all go towards her London Marathon challenge in April.

Great Bertrams Bake Off

What a competition it was, with so many amazing creative and delicious tasty treats, and all for Comic Relief.  We have raised to date, and we are still counting, over £250.

In the pipeline…

Easter Hamper Draw

There’s an amazing Easter Hamper on offer to a lucky winner.  Tickets are just £1 for a square and all proceeds will go to Break Charity.

Sponsored Slim

Lydia Calton – one of the Supervisors in the warehouse – has embarked upon a sponsored slim in aid of the Injured Soldiers Fund.  Lydia will be taking on this challenge for the next 6 months.

Good luck to everyone in your fundraising efforts and thank you to everyone who has got involved in events to date.

Thanks for the update Frances – I see March took you well over the £1,000 raised mark. We look forward to hearing how everyone got on in the future events! 

Posted in Appearance, Baking, Charity Fundraising, Endurance & Obstacle Races, Fetes, Sales and Raffles, Food and Drink, London Marathon, Pub Games and Quizzes, Red Nose Day, Running, Sport, Sweepstakes | 1 Comment

What a Day!

Keep low and work hard!

Our first flagship event has been a huge success, with staff from across the Group having a fantastic time.

After a full day of learning to ‘ride the boards’, the cyclists went head to head in a 500m time trial – two laps of the Velodrome from a standing start, which isn’t easy!

“It was great to see so many people from across the Group trying something outside of their comfort zone and having fun.” Matthew Watson, Group

Well done to everyone who took part and made the event a success – the smiles on everyone’s faces at the end of the day said it all!

Here’s a small selection of the photos from the day…

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Looks like the team from Andy Cook Cycling got everyone working hard!

Posted in Attack the Track, Colleague Involvement | 1 Comment

Back From Barcelona

Its over- here’s my medal

Its over- here’s my medal

Our well-travelled marathon runner, LTN’s Eugene Howson has news of his latest venture…

“On Sunday 15th March I completed the Barcelona Marathon, and my race time was 3:33:49.

What a great city! And the added experience competing with like-minded people from across the world. The race was well organised and brilliantly supported with spectators lining the route and shouting encouragement all the way.

My fund-raising target in support of Macmillan Cancer Support was £300, and so far the funds raised through my JustGiving Page is £326.13.

My LTN/DMD work colleagues also did a sweepstake – paying £2 a time – to guess my marathon completion time. The winning guess was Lyn Witcomb and the amount raised from this was £82, which when added will have well exceeded my target.

I would like to pass on my thanks to all who have given both encouragement and support along the way.”

Barcelona Marathon March 2015 collage

A selection of Eugene’s photos from Barcelona, from left to right: 1. Early am, thumbs up ready for the challenge, 2. 17,000 runners are off, 3. Looking good at 15km

Posted in Charity Fundraising, Running, Sport | 1 Comment