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Brighton 2 London

Why this Challenge?

In April 2011 David, Darren and Jamie joined forces with fellow Xoomworks friends James and Chevs to take on a four marathon challenge to raise valuable funds for our chosen charity HemiHelp.

You can find out why this amazing parent led charity is so close to our hearts here

But why 4 marathons I hear you ask.

We had all run one marathon before and so Jamie thought - "Let's run both the Brighton and London marathons in a week". We were about to shake on it when Jamie said - "Well if we're going to do those then why don't we run from Brighton to London in the same week as well". When Jamie gets that glint in his eye it's hard to say no.

Those plans were originally hatched in the autumn of 2010 and during the next six months the team were lucky enough to be joined by many friends and family within the wider Xoomworks community to help us train, organise ourselves and importantly begin to raise sponsorship.

Our first winter training run - 20 miles including Hyde Park

Who were the Golden Bond Team?

One key element to the success of our challenge has been the support of a band of community members who went under the inauspicious banner of "Golden Bonders". These folk included Graham (from our key partner Span Coaching) and Martin (EMI - Jamie's favourite client) as well as Vai, David, Steve, Emeka & Ben from Xoomworks. They trained throughout the winter, often seen down the Thames path at lunchtimes, in order to be fit and ready to join the challengers on the last ten miles of the Brighton to London run.

Darren, Steve, David, Vai and Ben - Part of the Golden Bond team

Vai, Emeka, David, Darren, Graham, David, Martin, Steve, Jamie & James get ready for the final 10 miles into London

How did we run 110 miles in one week in April 2011?

Brighton Marathon April 10th, 2011

Our first challenge was 26.2 miles around Brighton on what could only be described as a blisteringly hot day. We had plenty of support from family, friends and the guys from Hemihelp and several thousand amazing supporters on route. Key for us was that we stuck together, that we finshed in a feet-saving time of 4:23 and that by diving into the cold sea at the end our muscles were already on the way to recovery for the next event.

Team take a well deserved picture stop with Jamie's family

Second Challenge - 57 miles Brighton Pier to Greenwich Observatory

David, James, Jamie and Darren - High up in the South Downs

Gerald, Tim & Anthony - Cycling Heros - keep the team on track

Comment from Tim Maynard (Azzurri) "Every time I read the blogs – and have done so many times, it not only brings a tear to the eye but also makes me shake my head in wonder at all your achievements in trying to help others. Truly inspirational"

"It's Over" - At least Vai is smiling at the finish!

Update from Graham Bills (Golden Bond runner) on the day's events

Last evening while replacing salts, rehydrating and taking an ice bath after the run (ok enjoying a pizza and a bottle of plonk) a thought struck me ...

Although I’ve never met her - what an incredibly talented person Holly must be. I reckon she must have one of the world’s biggest hearts.

Not only has she the ability to keep her parents supporting her with their unconditional love ... but also managed to get a group of her dad’s colleagues to join him on an audacious physical challenge. Now that’s impressive.

Not only that – she also mobilised a matchless support crew of drivers and cyclists to join the runners – zig zagging around the roads of Kent together with half of Pret a Manger’s monthly stock.

And if that wasn’t enough and number of Golden Bonder’s felt a call to tag along too.

What a talent - that’s quite a feat by, I’m sure, an exceptional lady.

If you had any doubt ultramarathoners, Holly certainly isn’t going to let you down during your final leg!

What a privilege it was to share your extraordinary day.

Final Challenge - London Marathon 17th April 2011

David, James, Chevs, Jamie and Darren - Get Ready to face London

Final words from Jamie (March Hare!)

I wish I could say “Thank God that is over with”, but actually I feel quite the opposite. I have had such fun being part of such a great team effort. From the initial planning, to the quiz night, to the 3 fantastic running days and watching our fundraising target outstrip our goal, it has all been amazing and I have loved every minute of it and I now feel a little empty.

In terms of the whole 107 mile challenge, I must say that I feel a bit of a fraud. I am sad to say that I am not a broken man, nor are the other 3 who did the whole thing. We are all feeling far too well.

So I dedicate my final blog to 3 very special people for whom things did not go to plan, but they dug very deep, through a lot of pain and frustration.

First there is Mike, who, having fought the problems with his ITB (knee problems – very painful – imagine a red hot spike being pushed into the side of your knee!) from pretty much the outset of the training, finally came to terms with the fact that he was going to have to cycle the Brighton to London stretch, only to decide on the day of the run, equipped only with some squash shoes that he would try and run as much of the 55 miles as he could.

He managed 16 miles, with his knee clearly giving him massive issues from the start but was determined to be a significant part of the running team in the Brighton to London run and was.

Secondly there is Chevs. Not only did she bring the family down to Brighton to support the team, but then led the most incredible support team consisting of Chevs, Alex and Will in cars and Gerald, Anthony and Tim on bikes for the long run from Brighton to London. All the time I could see how worried she was at potentially letting the team down when joining us for the last leg in London.

Far from letting the team down, she showed massive amounts of balls when her ITB finally got too painful to run on and the neuroma in the opposite foot meant that there was no chance of compensating with a lop sided hobble. But rather than stop, she just put her head down and kept going. It wasn’t swift and effortless but pure gritty determination with the odd tear to show that she is human! It was far more like what I imagined one of the core team would be going through by this stage, but luck was on our side and not so much for Chevs.

This leads me to the final gang of 3 to whom I dedicate this blog. Our daughter Holly. Having a birthmark anywhere on your body is unfortunate. Having it on the brain is unlucky, especially when it bleeds before you are born and causes considerable brain damage all over the left side of your brain. But knowing Holly, she would probably consider that she was lucky enough to have this happen from birth when the brain is most able to re-learn and adapt rather than the birthmark bleed later in life when the brain is more stuck in its ways.

I am delighted that others have had a chance to meet the inspiration behind the many Holmes running challenges. Every day she embodies that marathon spirit of digging deep, accepting the situation and just getting on with things and doing it with good humour and a stiff upper lip (well mostly)

“Never Give Up” was her advice when interviewed on BBC Radio London on Saturday morning – not a bad motto for life.

Thank you all so much for following us over the last few weeks / months and for the huge generosity shown in our fundraising (both our main charity site and those of Martin and Graham) – it has been a real pleasure.

Update from Kathryn Skillings HemiHelp Trustee

Hello to all you amazing runners!

My name’s Kathryn, I’m one of the Trustees of HemiHelp, 29 & left hemi. I had the honour of meeting Jamie & Julie at the end of the run on Sunday (I was the one holding the sign on a stick) and I just wanted to congratulate & thank you all again for your amazing achievements!

Growing up as a hemi myself, I have to confess I often feel like a bit of a fraud, no bullying, mainstream education to degree level & then into the world of work. However I know these things were a result of my Mother’s shear bloody mindedness (passed on to me smiley ) and a lot of fighting the system! I know I couldn’t have had my positive life experiences without amazing support from my parents (who were never lucky enough to find HemiHelp). So thank you for helping HH help more parents, children (and adults) with hemiplegia!

Holly sounds amazing (a girl after my own heart wink ) I hope to meet her & the rest of you again soon.

I think getting the best for a child with Hemi can often feel like four emotional marathons (one to diagnosis, one just after, one for education and one to ensure independance as they grow) Your fundraising will allow HemiHelp to be the support group for those parents & hemis as they run!

Oooh I got all poetic there, not like me! smiley

Best Wishes, Keep in touch!

How much did we raise?

As of May 5th we have raised almost a staggering £16000 and we still have donations flooding in which has been incredible.

A big thank you to the extended Xoomworks community for this considerable support

Hemiplegia is a neurological condition that weakens one side of the body and affects one child in a thousand. It is sometimes described as a form of cerebral palsy and the effects are similar to those of a stroke. HemiHelp is a membership organisation offering information and support to children and their families affected by hemiplegia.

Find out more about HemiHelp here

A big thank you also needs to made to one of our key sponsors Azzurri who supported us generously at the charity quiz and through Tim Maynard's amazing support on the Brighton to London challenge

We were also delighted to be joined by one of our key preferred suppliers, Span Coaching, both as a donor and on the day as part of the team. Graham kayaking 26.2 miles


"Xoomworks rapidly understood our needs and the barriers to achieving them. Through a series of assignments, they helped us to deliver our objective of changing our existing financial systems into a management information system that could be used at all levels in the UK business to support our planned growth."

Tim Maynard , Group Finance Director , DTZ