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In April 2011 David, Darren and Jamie joined forces with fellow Xoomworks Technology 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.
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 most importantly, begin to raise sponsorship.
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.
Brighton Marathon, April 10th, 2011
Our first challenge was 26.2 miles as part of the Brighton Marathon, 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 finished 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.
57 miles Brighton Pier to Greenwich Observatory
The truly inspirational Brighton Pier to Greenwich Observatory run was a real challenge. Tim Maynard (Azzurri) said that every time he reads the blogs – as he has done so many times, it not only brings a tear to the eye but also makes him shake his head in wonder at all our achievements in trying to help others.
As an update from Graham Bills (Golden Bond runner) on the day’s events, we heard “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 Holmes 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. She also mobilised a matchless support crew of drivers and cyclists to join the runners – zigzagging around the roads of Kent together with half of Pret a Manger’s monthly stock. And if that wasn’t enough a 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.
London Marathon, April 17th, 2011
We felt great as we started running the London Marathon, which attracts competitors from every corner of the globe and is second only to the Great North Run in terms of the number of participants. Along the route, our many supporters and Golden Bonders among the five-deep crowds could have passed for motivational professionals!
By the time the race was over, we were thinking back on all the amazing stuff that’s taken place in our community space in 2011 and wondered if we can begin to fire up some additional creative juices now for the rest of the year.
We have had great feedback from Tim Maynard (Azzuri) after supporting the above Xoomies on their 4 marathon challenge. Tim is a friend of Xoomworks who took time out to be a bicycle support team member.
“It was a privilege and a pleasure to have accompanied you all yesterday.
What you are about to achieve is truly staggering and an inspiration to all – whilst you are certifiably mad I am still in awe! It was a fantastic day and have to confess to finding the end quite emotional as you all crossed the line.”
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 110-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 three who did the whole thing. We are all feeling far too well. So I dedicate my final blog to three 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 lopsided hobble. But rather than stop, she just put her head down and kept going. It wasn’t swift and effortless but the 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.”