Chris Rayner turned his life around in his mid-30s and competed beyond his wildest dreams
Watching athletics with my Dad when Seb Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram flew the flag for our country is one of my earliest sporting memories. However, if you had told me back in 1983 that I would one day pull on my country’s colours in competition, I would have found that hard to believe. Skip forward to October 2019 and I found myself proudly slipping into my England vest ahead of the Yorkshire Marathon!
During my early 30s, as is often the case, I’d put on a bit of weight and didn’t really exercise. I was stuck all day behind the wheel of a car as a sales rep, and my eating habits weren’t the best.
The big change happened when my marriage failed. I began jogging to try and do something positive. It’s well known that running can really boost mental health, and I was feeling a bit lonely. A friend suggested I go along with her to an event organised by Chorlton Runners. I became a regular.
I was adamant I would never enter a race, but one night, after several post-run beers, I was persuaded to enter the 2013 Leeds Abbey Dash 10k and, during the same beer session, declared I’d be able to do it in under 40 minutes. I didn’t even have a running watch back then so decided I’d better train hard, and crossed the finish line in 39 minutes 22 seconds. I was hooked!
The excitement of Leeds was short lived, however. A few days later I was in an awful car accident near Aberdeen which saw me upside down in a field. A week later my spleen ruptured, which resulted in major abdominal surgery to save my life. I felt lucky and so thankful to be alive and was desperate to get back to running to put events behind me. Six weeks after surgery and now minus my spleen, I cautiously took part in the South Manchester parkrun and it felt great to be back.
My first marathon
The next huge event in my running story was, again, after a few beers when I was persuaded to enter the 2016 Manchester Marathon. I woke the following morning thinking I’d made a terrible mistake, but then I promised myself I would dedicate the next three months to doing every single run on the plan, come rain, sun, snow or sleet.
I stood on the start line that sunny April morning knowing that I could not have done any more and that, whatever happened in the race, I had already achieved the real value the marathon. The icing on the cake was that after a rather frantic sprint to the finish line, my watch said 2 hours, 59 minutes and 57 seconds!
After that, there was no stopping me and I competed in the prestigious Boston Marathon, then Venice, then London, and then the Chester Marathon. I managed to finish in under 2 hours 45 minutes and, a week later, I received an email to say I’d qualified to represent England Masters in the 2019 Yorkshire Marathon!
My first charity marathon
It was going to be a proud day for me pulling on an England vest in my home county with my parents watching. I decided to use the occasion to do some good and considered running for charity, something I had not done previously. My grandfather Thomas Rayner had multiple sclerosis (MS) and died before I was born. I knew my father and uncle would be very delighted if I ran to support an MS charity and I chose MS-UK because of the fabulous support they provide to people living with the illness, including friends and work colleagues. Having set up a Just Giving page, I was amazed when £1,000 was donated in just 48 hours and £1,500 in total was pledged. I am fortunate to have some very generous friends and family.
The big day
The day itself was amazing. Lining up with my England colleagues for the team photo made it suddenly seem very real, but I quickly got my race head on as I had a job to do. I had my girlfriend and friends cheering me at the start and knew my parents would be at mile 14/15. Despite having had a few issues in training was determined to give it my all.
Standing alongside my Chorlton team mate Matt in the start pen, we wished each other luck and waited for the off. The conditions were pretty good – dry, cool, but a bit windy in places. I went out hard in the early stages and waited for the wheels to fall off, but got to halfway feeling good.
The shout of “Go on England!” from my mum gave me a boost at 15 miles, but a mile later, I started cramping a bit in my left hamstring. Fortunately, I managed to get rid of the cramp but lost touch with the group I had been running in, which meant running into the wind on my own, which is hard both physically and mentally.
The marathon is a massive mental game – you have so much time out there where you need to maintain form and focus and also remain hard in the head. Fortunately, Yorkshire folk are famed for this! The last six miles are always a battle in every marathon – they often say it’s a 20 mile warm up for a six mile race. I kept thinking of the finish line, all the people who I knew would be tracking my progress, the people who had sponsored me, and I shut out the message from my body that was saying Stop!
Two miles to go and my pace had just dipped a touch between 20 and 24 miles, but I rallied myself and knew I had this race and another personal best was within my grasp. With half a mile to go, the organisers kindly put a short but sharp hill in your way, but you know when you crest it you have a 400 meter downhill run to the finish. My cheer squad was placed on that hill and I flew up it, then belted it down to the finish line as the commentator called my name over the public address. I crossed the line, arm aloft, in a new best of 2 hours, 40 minutes and 51 seconds.
It is only when you finish a marathon that you realise how much pain you are in and you go from sprinting to the line to suddenly finding it hard to walk! However, I am so lucky to be able to enjoy my sport and it serves as a great reminder that things I sometimes take for granted are not so easy for others. Whilst I am very proud of my progress from taking up running in my late 30s to running for England in my mid-40s, the amazing donations I raised for MS-UK was the something that meant the day was truly special.
On Sunday 13 October 2019 our Events Fundraiser Jenny supported the Royal Parks Half Marathon…
We had an amazing team of 14 take on the Royal Parks Half Marathon this year. It was a muddy one! The rain during the night before made the start and finish line very muddy so our runners knew they were going to get very messy – if only you could run in wellington boots!
Despite the overcast, drizzly weather the team were in great spirits. They were supported by our cheer point of volunteers at mile 11, all of whom had taken part in running events before so they knew how to give that much needed encouragement. And of course, we kept up our reputation of being the noisiest cheer point on the route! I would like to say a massive thank you to all our supporters – it makes a huge difference!
I would also like to say a big congratulations to our #TeamPurple runners who have so far raised an epic £4,162.82, which is well over target, with more funds set to come in. Every penny goes towards supporting those affected by multiple sclerosis to live happier and healthier lives – thank you!
Have you been inspired by this event? MS-UK have places in the Vitality Big Half in London on the 02 March 2020. The minimum fundraising requirement or this event is £250.00. To register your interest call Jenny today on 01206 226500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this guest blog, Shaun Collins tells us about why he has taken on not just one run in aid of MS-UK, but many! This weekend he will be joining #TeamPurple at the Royal Parks Half Marathon, here’s why…
My journey with MS-UK started in 2017 after my good friend Lewis Miller had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).
After his diagnosis, Lewis had continued running marathons and around that time I had started running again. Whilst at that point I thought I’d be happy once I’d managed a 5k, I had always had the thought in my mind to run a marathon having grown up in London and I no longer really had an excuse. If Lewis could do it with what he was going through, what excuse did I have for not doing it!
Having made the decision, I went online to find an Autumn marathon and started by running the Birmingham Marathon in 2017. It didn’t go to plan, I hit the much talked about wall and walked most of the last 11 miles!
I have since continued running and thanks to MS-UK, got a place to take part in the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2018 which really did fulfil a lifelong ambition and this time I managed to run the whole marathon which was my aim!
I have had a year off doing marathons due to the birth of our third child but decided I still needed to do something again so I chose to run the Great North Run and Royal Parks Half Marathons this year continuing to raise money for MS-UK!
The team at MS-UK, particularly Jenny, have been amazing and have been so supportive through every event I have done!
If you would like to sponsor me for my events this year, visit my JustGiving page.
My work will match fund up to £1,000 so for every donation you give, the amount will be doubled!
I have plans to run three marathons in eight weeks next year so watch this space for more ways that you can support me and MS-UK!
Join #TeamPurple at one of our 2020 events!
On Sunday I had the privilege of cheering on our amazing #TeamPurple runners at the Simplyhealth Great North Run!
The weather was warm (if a little windy!) as I joined crowds of well over 200,000 people lining the route of the run, right from Newcastle to South Shields. Over the whole weekend around 58,000 people took part in events, from the 5k run through to the Great Tees 10k, but I was there to support the amazing runners taking on the Great North Run in aid of MS-UK.
This was the first year I have travelled North to support #TeamPurple at the Great North Run and I was amazed at the dedication and energy of our runners. It was a brilliant atmosphere and I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who wore our purple running vests with pride.
Every penny raised from this event helps us support even more people across the whole of the UK who may be living with multiple sclerosis (MS). One service we offer is being able to listen to people’s worries and concerns through the MS-UK Helpline and offer lots of information and support at times when it is really needed. Our amazing fundraisers make this possible.
The date for next year is already out – 13 September 2020 – so if you want to join #TeamPurple please get in touch with me to register your interest. I would love to be cheering you across the finish line at this unforgettable event next year!
Events Fundraiser, MS-UK
Mummy hasn’t been very well recently, and she has had lots of symptoms like the ones people with multiple sclerosis (MS) get. After she found out more about MS, Mummy thought it would be a nice idea for me to fundraise, and we chose to fundraise for MS-UK.
I took part in the UK Kids Fun Triathlon York on Saturday 13 July. First, I had to swim 75 meters (three lengths of the pool), then I cycled 3km and finally, I ran 1,400 meters. This was the first triathlon I’ve ever done and it was lots of fun. I trained as hard as I could for it and everyone was so proud of me when I had finished. Mummy was with me on the day and she helped me a lot in the transition area.
Lizzie Selby raised £260 for MS-UK and every single penny will go towards helping those affected by MS. If you would like to do something to support MS-UK, then get in touch with Lucy today! Simply email Lucy@ms-uk.org or call 01206 226500.
Myself and two close friends completed the Action Peak District Challenge, a run covering 100 Kilometres (62.5 miles) 2450 metres of elevation (Ben Nevis is 1,354m). The route took us through a tough and varied figure of eight loop around Peak District National Park. With none of us having attempted a challenge anywhere near this distance, we were entering completely uncharted territory. However,18 hours 17 minutes and 41 seconds after departing Bakewell showground we crossed the finish line. Out of a field of over 600 runners, 508 completed the continuous challenge, we ended up finishing 68th.
My Mum and Uncle were diagnosed over 10 years ago and over this time I have watched how horrible multiple sclerosis (MS) can be. Over that time the treatments have got much better however the unpredictably of symptoms occurring has remained. When deciding to use this challenge to fundraise my first thought was to find a charity that helps people with MS.
Before this challenge I had never ran more than 15 miles. I had no idea how to train to run over 4 times that, and working away from home made training difficult at times. Before the challenge started I knew it was going to be more of a mental battle than a physical one, to mute that little voice telling you to give up.
Having completed the first 52Km with no major problems and feeling confident we headed off after grabbing some lunch feeling really optimistic. Almost immediately after setting off I hit my biggest obstacle. At the 54Km mark whilst descending a steep hill, I started to feel a shooting pain in my left knee, which as the miles went on got worse and worse. The pain and discomfort escalated and became a gruelling mental battle to carry on and at a prolonged slower pace. Dealing with the frustration of not being able to run and watching as people we had overtaken hours ago now overtaking us was hard to take, we had out worked them and a freak injury meant they were now in front. At the time it seemed very unfair. At that point I also felt a massive burden to the other two guys who could of carried on running. However later they too came up against their own injuries which together we worked through.
This was my first time fundraising. I have learnt a lot of lessons. Everything revolves around social media, get posts out often, start fundraising well in advance, Have information for how to donate on you at all times to give people, lots of times in conversation people expressed an interest in donating but I didn’t have the link at hand to give them.
I attempted this challenge predominantly for selfish reasons – I wanted to know if I could do it, if I could raise some money for a good cause at the same time that was a bonus. However the lessons I have learnt from the experience are far more than that of physical endurance.
The key take away lesson from this experience for me was that we always have more in the tank than we think, and it is often the support given from others which allowed us to see it. Me, Louis and Ryan were able to achieve as a collective something that would of been beyond us as individuals. And I think that really underpins the importance of the work done by charities like MS-UK, because that support really does make a monumental difference in what we can all achieve.
Get in touch! Call Lucy on 01206 226500 or email Lucy today.
On Sunday we had 30 people take on the ASICS London 10k in the bright and sunny London for MS-UK. Congratulations and thank you to all those that ran and came along to cheer and support, it goes so far in helping those affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) to live happier and healthier lives.
Part of our 30 racers was a running group from Berkshire, who was organised by a cherished long-term fundraiser who is affected by MS herself. Alongside many people who have taken part in the Asics London 10k previously, as they enjoyed it so much before!
Our team have been hosting their own events to help fundraise for this day, ranging from a gin tasting night, to a boot camp and even a rock and roll bingo night!
We had a very enthusiastic cheer point of volunteers who came along to support #TeamPurple at this event in London, most of who had either volunteered before or had taken part in our other events. We are so immensely grateful for this support and just can’t do these events without you, so we wanted to give a massive thank you!
Here is what Chris and Fran Setterfield, two of our amazing volunteers, had to say about the day…
'We love supporting our runners at the cheer points. Seeing the unexpected smiles on their faces when they suddenly hear their names being called out means so much to them! We know how important this is, having been at the receiving end!'
Deb Wald, who ran the race itself, said 'I’m so happy to have taken part and done it again for MS-UK, there’s a continuity with them that’s very motivating.'
Places are still available in the Royal Parks Half Marathon!
Email Jenny today to find out more or call us on 01206 226500!
After logging thousands of miles over the past decade, I’ve consulted my running journals, reflected on my best and worst races, and compiled the information I wish had been available to me before running my first 26.2.
If you’re a little (or a lot!) apprehensive about running your first marathon, the following information is sure to help you feel prepared and more confident.
You can read my full blog ‘The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Running your First Marathon’ on the hobby help website today.
Marathon packing checklist
In 2013 my lovely mother got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). When we got the news of course we were devastated, not knowing much about the condition apart from the fact it was “incurable “ through medication and put her in a lot of pain, we just all did what we could to support her but for years I have felt helpless. She decided not to tell anyone but her close friends and family of the condition she was living with...why you ask?
My mum is one of the most strong, independent, driven and successful women you will ever come across. In 1999 she was awarded the Ernst & Young trophy winning Young Entrepreneur of the Year. From 1992 - 2012 she owned a very successful business expanding world wide in over twenty countries and for years she was on the panel of the DSA and was well respected in the industry she was in. Sadly, I believe because of all of this she put pressure on herself to portray this strong business women, I think she thought people would take pity on her or think she couldn’t get the job done if she came clean that she had MS. So instead she suffered in silence, for a few years she was CEO of a large network marketing business which was an extremely high pressured job and to get her through the pain day to day she would take morphine based pills which again is something none of her colleagues knew about.
In 2017 my mother found herself heading up Europe for one of the largest essential oils company in the world doTERRA, here again she would be working 70 hour weeks, another high pressured role but this time she would be taking over 100 flights a year around Europe. Anyone that has MS will know that one of the biggest struggles is tiredness, so it won’t come as a shock to you when I tell you that she was exhausted. But this time something was different, as she was now part of this essential oil business she discovered natural medicine and in time found the perfect essential oils to support her immune system and pain relief and now to this day is morphine free.
In June 2018, even though my mum was at her healthiest, her strongest, pain free and our “happy mum”, I still felt I needed to do something to help her and others with MS and also families that have lost loved ones through MS. I took the plunge and decided to apply to run the Virgin Money London Marathon 2019 to raise money for MS-UK. They help people and families through some of the darkest times. This journey has been incredible - I have not just been able to raise over £2,000 but I have also learnt so much about myself too, I feel so proud to be a part of it all and to have run for such a good cause with an amazing charity.
Last month my mum told me that I had given her the strength to tell the world what she had been hiding for years, she told her colleagues and thousands of people who work alongside her, friends she had not seen for years that she has had MS for over 6 years. People where stunned, some sad, some happy because her story had also helped them, but most of all no one took pity on her!
So my 'WHY' is my mum, I ran for her, for the strength she has shown, for never giving up, for still pursuing her career even though at times it was nearly impossible to get out of bed let alone run a business, for now helping so many other people with MS find a natural solution that works with them, for having the strength to tell everyone that she will fight and lastly for being the best mum I could wish for!
Applications are now open for MS-UK #TeamPurple places in the Virgin Money London Marathon 2020!
On Sunday March 23, more than four thousand people took to the streets of Colchester to be part of the towns’ biggest community sporting event the year, the Colchester Half Marathon.
The event is organised by a group of volunteers from Colchester Colne Round Table who work tirelessly throughout the year to stage this fantastic event. All the proceeds from the race are shared between local charities.
This year MS-UK were lucky enough to have been chosen as the main charity beneficiary for the event. Brain injury charity Headway Essex were the other charity partners. MS-UK worked closely with the organisers and recruited a team of over 100 volunteers and 50 runners to support the event.
Taking on a half marathon is brave enough, but not enough of a challenge for MS-UK’s long term supporter Clare Thompson and her running buddy Dave, who completed the course wearing an MS-UK branded purple tyre!
It was a great day, everyone had loads of fun and the Great British weather was exceptionally kind to us too.
This week MS-UK received a very handsome donation of £48,750 from the event. Jill Purcell, MS-UK’s Fundraising Manager said 'We are delighted to receive such a fantastic sum of money raised from the event. The amount is equivalent to MS-UK being able to provide specialised supervised exercise sessions to more than 50 clients for a whole year at Josephs Court, our wellness centre in Colchester. Thank you to the Colchester Half Marathon committee, and all runners and volunteers for their generous support. It is always a great event which significantly benefits the local community too'.
Every penny raised from the Colchester Half Marathon helps MS-UK support even more people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS), by raising awareness of the condition and offering services like our helpline, MS-UK Counselling and New Pathways magazine.
Thank you so much to all involved and our amazing #TeamPurple runners!