Congratulations to all of the local runners who completed the Bath Half Marathon last Sunday, which saw thousands take to the city streets to run the 13.1 mile course; many with stories to tell and completing their own personal achievements.
The 160-strong Time is Precious team was one of many local charities taking part in the race, its runners estimated to be raising around £20,000 for the cause that helps provide equipment for local hospitals and to improve the environment for families and siblings having to spend prolonged periods of time in hospital.
And of course, the charity’s runners were headed up by one of its coaches and patron, Westfield’s John Reynolds, who completed a record-breaking fifteen back-to-back half marathons beginning last Thursday evening from Glastonbury Tor. He reachedBath Abbey at 9.34 a.m. on Sunday morning, with just ten minutes’ sleep and over 200 miles under his feet. He arrived to a hero’s welcome for the team photograph at the runners’ village before taking part in the Bath Half himself, helping to get the runners he had trained around the course, encouraging them every step of the way.
By Tuesday of last week, John’s epic run looked to be in doubt – after months of planning, the seizures he suffers from in his legs, due to the waste product from radiotherapy, were becoming the most problematic they have been for some time. Miraculously, John was ready to go on Thursday evening, followed by local camera crews who documented the start of his challenge from the Tor.
Speaking about the Points West news report on ‘Johnny’ Reynolds and his endeavour, John explained: “It was a young reporter that I knew from years ago, and he had always somehow known me as ‘Johnny’. He came out to do this particular report and of course, was calling me that – everyone was looking around asking, ‘who’s Johnny?!’ It caused much hilarity and we had some fun with it – and then we ended up with people shouting, ‘Go Johnny!’ wherever I went. I even had my own hashtag!
“It took eight takes to make that news report, and there’s a new footpath on the Tor that I had to keep running around – I suppose it was a good warm up! Points West were brilliant, they also came out to a session in Bath the week before to do some filming.
“All through the area, Bristol and Bath, people were recognising me wherever I went – shouting out and blowing horns, wanting to know how I was getting on. It fuels you up and gives you one heck of a boost, but you need that to make up for the minutes you’ve lost talking about it! But it’s more of a good thing than a bad thing.
“So many people this year were shouting out for me in the crowd at the Bath Half – I spoke to so many of them.
“One lady I met in Dundry turned up at the Castle of Comfort where she knew I would be having a brief break and refuel. She left some money on the table for Time is Precious. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it was £100. Another had put out flags and bunting outside her home in Stratton-on-the-Fosse, which I’d be going through at about 4 a.m. on both days. She had put out a bag of goodies for me – and on the second night, I had found a pen and some paper to write a thank you note. As I put the note in, there was a tapping on the window – she’d been looking out for me and gave me a wave. I met her again at the Bath Half – so many people that were complete strangers are now like old friends.
“I had an incredible support crew who were even waiting for me at around 3.15 a.m. outside the White Post in Midsomer Norton with bacon butties and coffee. With all that eating, I still managed to lose half a stone during the challenge. (John had to consume around 20,000 calories).
“Restaurants were giving us free food along the route – I had bangers and mash on the suspension bridge!
“I also managed a Radio Somerset interview whilst running up Dunkerton Hill and spoke to Ali Vowles from Radio Bristol, too – there was such an amazing amount of support.
“At one point, I thought my phone had converted to morse code, because of all of the pinging it was doing – I could not read or respond to messages as time was so tight, but I am going through every single one of them now – I have around 650 emails to get through!”
John’s sheer determination is remarkable. Having had to retrain himself to walk again after treatment for a thyroid condition and having had serious heart issues, his love of running has quite literally kept him alive. But when faced wtih 200 miles to run, does he ever feel like giving up?
He says: “On the Sunday morning I just couldn’t get any speed up, fatigue had set in and in the early hours it had absolutely poured it down, so I was cold and wet. It was a really hard challenge and I was pushing it to the limit.
“But part of the reason I was doing it was to inspire the other runners and to take their mind off of their own challenge – to show them it could be done. And the faces and the smiles of everyone in the Time is Precious marquee on Sunday made it for me.
Everyone really went for it on the second lap of the Bath Half, and seeing and being part of their sense of achievement is the best feeling in the world.”
Neil Halford, from Time is Precious, congratulated the runners who took part and reflected on the day. He said: “The day was amazing – when we thought the event couldn’t get any better, it did. We all greeted John by forming a tunnel of people from the front of our marquee – it was almost like we took over the running village!
“It was a great way to welcome him and it was such a proud moment when the team lined up for the group photograph.
“We began six years ago with fifteen runners, and now we have 160. We had more volunteers than ever before offering their services, and more people came out to support our team.
“We try to make the experience personal to our runners and are really grateful that we had so much support. We would like to say a massive thank you to all our runners and coaches who helped to get everyone over the finish line, to Sun Chemical, for donating water and to our sponsor, Shaun Burton Transport and of course Will Thorp, Ryan Wheeler and John for his amazing challenge and raising awareness for Time is Precious.
“We have now given over £250,000 of equipment to local hospitals – the Bath Half is our biggest fundraiser of the year, raising £18,000 in 2016.”
If you feel inspired and would like to join the Time is Precious Bath Half team in 2018, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To donate to John Reynold’s fundraising page for the charity, which has brought in nearly £1,000 so far, visit: www.virginmoney giving.com/johnreynolds