This year’s sporting charitable event requires more than one Garner…

By Katie Garner

Every year, I like to set myself a bit of a challenge. Not only to test my physical prowess and fitness, but also to do my bit for charity, and raise a delectable stash of funds to help causes close to my heart. After completing the obligatory 5km and 10km Race for Life runs as I began regularly entering these shindigs, last year was probably my first wow factor event.

After last year's half marathon

After last year’s half marathon

My first race was a 5km Race for Life, which I walked. I then decided I could ramp this up easily, so the following year I did a 10km Race for Life, which I ran in one hour 12 minutes. I re-entered the same event the following year, shaving the spare minutes off my time to do it in one solid hour. Last year, I took a more endurance based challenge by signing up for the Royal Parks Half Marathon – my first half marathon which works out to about 13.1 miles. Completely pumped and trying to ignore hunger pangs at mile 12, I managed to whoop my two hour target time by running it in one hour 47 minutes. Despite being proud of the physical accomplishment of the day, running the half marathon wasn’t all about the glory of crossing the finishing line. I had a charity place with Parkinson’s UK, in memory of my Grandad Chas who suffered from the illness before he passed away in 2006, a week before my 16th birthday. With my name stickered onto the distinctive pale blue vest, my supporters not only saw me race my socks off, but they also helped me to raise £700 for the occasionally overlooked charity – for Grandad.

Having raced for my Grandad Chas, I now set about finding this year’s event and I happened to stumble across the perfect event and the ideal charity. On Sunday 14th September I will be taking part in the London Duathlon, in south west London’s Richmond Park. However, I won’t be alone. Instead of racing all three sections myself, I have recruited a few more Garners for a very special cause. Roping in sister Jess was easily done as a fellow runner, who doubled as my personal trainer during my half marathon preparations. I also managed to convince my dad Bill, an avid cyclist, that duathlons were the way forward. Competing in the Classic Relay event, Team Garner are going hell for leather, flying the colours for Macmillan Cancer Care.

My Grandad Joe, my father’s dad, passed away in 2010 after a long battle with bladder and prostate cancers. In the weeks before his death the support and help of the Macmillan nurses provided a great relief and help to my Grandma, extinguishing an escalating stressful situation. With three Garners uniting, it was a no brainer that Macmillan would be our charity of choice, and that we would be racing for Grandad Joe, who in his heyday often enjoyed trundling around on his bike. Although he was more of a tai chi man, he was always incredibly proud of our achievements and successes, and we are completely driven to produce an amazing time to give him one more thing to be proud of, proud of because we did it for him.

l-r: Bill, Jess and Katie...we're all a bit bigger / greyer now!

l-r: Bill, Jess and Katie…we’re all a bit bigger / greyer now!

So, how’s the format going to work out for the relay? The race starts with a 10km run, the first 250m on undulating grass before hitting the closed roads of the park which make up the majority of the race. It’s going to be up to me to get the team off to a strong start as I open with the longer distance run. Once completed, I’ll be handing the baton over to Bill, who will be doing the 44km bike section, consisting of four laps of the same section. Described as a technical section with plenty of inclines and descents, I can already sense Dad revving up his bike gears. He’ll then be passing over to our final team member Jess, for the concluding 5km run to see us home safe. As settings go, Richmond Park will be ideal for the duathlon – covering almost 2,500 acres there is plenty of space to create an abundance of routes, and the array of wildlife, including hundreds of deer, should keep our supporters busy, as well as perusing the event village (who doesn’t love food stands and merchandise? I’ll be bringing my spare change, that’s for sure).

Time wise, it’s quite hard to nurture a prediction, since we’ve never done a team event like this before. I must confess, I am actually so excited to be racing with both my dad and sister. Dad has always been incredibly athletic and was undoubtedly the inspiration for our very active and sporting lifestyles today, so in a way, it’s his own fault I dragged him into this! I can’t wait to start the race, and then high five Dad at the transition point.

So, on the 14th September, if you happen to be in Richmond Park, keep an eye out for a troop swathed in Macmillan green with their game faces on. There’s probably only one motto Dad has jokingly really passed on over the years, well, only one that’s stuck anyway, however it’s something I still chant to myself – before a race, before a competitive badminton match, when I know I need to bring it and push myself to achieve my fitness and sporting goals.

Mercy is for the weak. We won’t let you down Grandad.

I would be super thrilled if you could sponsor Team Garner! Please click here to go to our fundraising page.