The Great South Run 2012: A family bonding event

It is all to easy to come up with a great idea after a few drinks and what seemed like at good idea at the time, then becomes reality.   It’s seeing those ideas through that is the challenge and to be admired.

Earlier this year, a group of family cousins started to talk about fund-raising in aid of Encephalitis research, after the tragic death of my daughters’  father in December 2011.

Encephalitis is the acute  inflammation of the brain most often caused by infection and sometimes the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks brain tissue.  In the UK the cause of over 50% of cases is unknown.  Early diagnosis is important to reduce long-term damage.    The Encephalitis Society promotes awareness, support to suffers and families, and very necessary research into this awful disease.

Like all charities they are in need of funding and donations to continue their good work.   So with this in mind, after months of training,  Adrian, the husband of one of my nieces and Mark, one of my nephews, ran the Great North Run, a half marathon in Newcastle in September.   They threw the gauntlet down to the girls, who said they would enter into the Great South Run, a 10 mile race held at the end of October in Portsmouth, Hampshire.

For months the three girls trained and ran most evenings to build up their stamina, gradually increasing the distance ready for the great day.   My daughter also ran the 10k RNLI race in Portsmouth earlier in the month, it was really hot that day and the runners were clearly finding the sun beating down on them somewhat of a struggle.

28 October dawned and the skies were grey with gentle rain.  It was also very cold, with an icy blow coming off the seafront as we headed en masse along the Esplanade towards the meeting point.    Team_Tyler was quite a gang, with Adrian who agreed to join the three girls in the Great South Run, and 10  family members in support.    We gathered at the Encephalitis base in the Charity Village where we met up with others who were running for the same cause.

The atmosphere was building with tannoy announcements and music whipping up the excitement.  We were all bundled up with layers, scarves, woolly hats and gloves to keep out the cold.   It was a very brave move and took a few deep breaths for our runners to discard their track suits to make their way down to their section of the starting points.

The race was staggered, with the elite runners going first, followed by three other waves determined by the estimated finish time each runner gave on entering into the race.   Team_Tyler were in the green wave, the largest group of runners and the last to leave.  When we reached their designated area, we could see the number of fancy dressers, from men in shocking pink tutus to Smurfs, all running to raise money for charities.

The smell of the hog roast and burger vans whafted across the crowds, the music was pounding out and then the warming up started, with a Mr Motivator look alike set high on a gantry.

Wrapped up in foil blankets, like a turkey roast, they stretched up and down and from side to side.  They did knee bending and leg stretching as the atmosphere built.  It wasn’t raining either which was a great bonus.

Then they were off!

Knowing we had about two hours to wait for them to arrive at the finishing line, we headed off for hot chocolates and coffee from one of the very many food stands.   Then we walked down to the 200m to the end marker to wait for our runners to arrive.  It was an entertaining wait watching the different and very varied style of running.   Ewan Thomas ran passed us with his recognisable blond hair, and we also spotted Sally Gunnell.    There were men running with children in pushchairs, very many people dressed as a animals, superman, Thunderbirds and real firemen to mention just a few.  I didn’t get the shot, but one couple were running with the man holding out a fishing rod with a curly wurly chocolate bar dangling in front of the female runner.  A ripple of laughter ran through the crowd as they passed by.

Then came a Royal Navy diver, dressed in 200lbs of diving gear.  The suit is well over a hundred years old and each boot  about 22 lbs each, the suit itself weighed about 10-12 lbs and the brass helmet 50lbs.  He also had a chest and back weight – both around 41lbs each. Because the suit  was so heavy he did  five miles on Friday, four on the Saturday and then the final mile on the Sunday,   Each mile took about an hour and a half and the poor guy was really struggling making his way to the finishing line.

With so many people running by, my eyes were straining to pick out our family members.   Adrian ran by first, finishing with a time of  1:28:43, then Louise came by finishing at 2:02:49 and my daughter, Vicky, (who even had time for a wave) with her cousin Francis, who had been suffering with a knee injury since the 3 mile mark, came into sight.  They crossed the line together at 2:11:54.

Complete with medals, a goodie bags,  great big smiles  and the thought they may never have to run again,  the exhausted runners joined us at the Charity Village, where a final photo was taken.

Team_Tyler then went back to Vicky’s house where the runners had showers, the supporters had cups of tea and we all warmed up, ready to make our way to the local pub where a table for 14 was booked for a great big tasty Sunday roast dinner.    Talk then turned to what they would do next year, but at the moment I doubt it will be anything to do with running.

I am so very proud of them all and Team_Tyler have now raised just over £4,500 for the Encephalitis Society.  This last year has brought together a large number of Tyler cousins and their respective partners and between them they have bonded into a close and loving relationship for the future which is heartwarming.

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  1. The Great South Run was a great experience. I raised over £ 1000 in sponsorship. I had encephalitis myself three years ago. Jonathan


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