2014 will be a memorable year for many Harrogate Harriers, but for Darren West it will be one to be savoured as he has completed a challenge that many will have thought simply impossible – he has successfully completed an incredible 52 half-marathons (you may care to read that again) in order to raise money for his supported charity, Martin House Children’s Hospice. This superb Boston Spa-based organisation provides care for children with life-limiting illnesses and Darren undertook to raise no less than £5,200 for them during the course of the year. As we approach the end of the year, I am pleased to tell you that he is nearly there – a fantastic effort and the whole club is immensely proud of his achievement. The man himself put a few words together:
“…… The challenge to run 52 half-marathons in 2014 was never going to be easy. The events themselves were hard enough, but maintaining my fitness throughout the year was also going to be difficult. The hardest part of my challenge to raise £5200 for Martin House was the logistics behind each event: Planning when to travel, how far to drive for same day events, where to stay and what effect that would have on family life.
My first event didn’t go without a few hiccups: As we headed out to Lea Town (Preston) I was unfortunate enough to get a speeding ticket, leaving a memorable mark on what was going to be a long year! The New Year Half-Marathon did have it’s up side however, as I ran my first PB of the year of 1:35:15. It was also necessary to run a few back-to-back races. January only had 3 UK half-marathons that I could run and December was looking ominous as the last race date available was the 14th December. So, it was no surprise my year involved Saturday/Sunday running, 7 in total, the first was on the 18th January running the CTS Anglesey Half, a tough 15 miles off-road event where torrential rain battered me from start to finish, followed by the 19th January Brass Monkey in York on a more than welcome flat course. Needless to say, neither race produced a PB.
It wasn’t until later in the year where my form peaked. On the 30th March I ran the Belvoir Half Marathon, a small event in the quite village of Hose, it was a warm sunny day and I felt great, completing my year fastest half-marathon in 1:32:55
Races came in all forms: flat, undulating, road, trail, mountainous, off-road. But the most unusual was the Morecambe Crossbay challenge. 13.1 miles of nothing but sand. It was a hot day and this was not going to be a good event for any first-timers. I was well prepared with hat, hydration pack and sunscreen, crossing the estuary between Hest and the South Lakes while the tide was out. Great fun, but tiring and I completed the race in 1:49:48
I want to thank Jenny and the children for putting up with this cantankerous git, who got them out of bed at 5a.m. in the morning to travel to remote race venues, where some didn’t even have coffee shops to the disgust of my wife. There were days when we didn’t talk to each other for the duration of the journey and at one point…. Well, I could rant on but the truth is she and the boys have been solid and my year would never have been completed without their backing and support.
My club (Harrogate Harriers) have been fantastic and I have had support from friends at numerous events. I hope I don’t miss anyone (if so I apologise), but thank you to Emma Prentis, Coralin Harrison, Wendy Marks, Sue Moul, Dan Simmons, Simon Childs, Tim Palmer, Tim Broomfield, Ian Rowbotham, Nathan Smith, Rob Athey, Tim Richardson, Sue Simmons, Sally Houghton, Alex Green and Jodie Peary.
I would like to thank everyone for their support and good wishes and wish them a healthy and happy New Year”.
If you wish to help Darren reach his target (or go beyond), you can do so at his JustGiving.com webpage.
You can also read more about his epic challenge at his “52 Halves” website.
A complete listing of Darren’s 52 half-marathons and all respective finishing times.