Giving back has always been important to me, and I frequently donate to my friends’ charity challenges and also directly to charities and not-for-profits whose missions I find important. Though it’s not often that I do my own fundraising or charity challenges.
However, after weeks of pestering colleagues and friends for cash, last Saturday I woke up at ridiculous-o-clock all in the name of getting ready to do a charity challenge for Barts Cancer Institute, a fine team of people working to improve cancer research and diagnostics.
6am: We’re off and ready to go! Jeff and I had to catch an early-for-us train out of London via Vauxhall to Runnymead to make the 8:30am start. I’m not much of a morning person, so I basically grumbled and groaned the entire way there. The only thing that made it better was my new Sweaty Betty leggings, because they have a pocket at the back that fits my phone.
8am: We are in Runnymead! I’ve not been out this way before, but I’m absolutely enamoured by the greenery and landscape. The part of me that isn’t screaming to go back home and head back to bed is seriously considering packing it all in and becoming a farmer so I can live and work in the countryside. However, I’m not sure what I’d farm or how I’d even do it because I don’t have the relevant skill set. I decide to keep my day job and admire the landscape for today.
8:30am: LET’S DO THIS. Team Arrow to the Knee assembled and ready to go, Jeff, Tannice, Martin, Maz and I put on our brave faces and pose for the obligatory pre-walk photo before we get sweaty, tired out, and risk injuries and dehydration in the name of raising funds and awareness for Barts. The reality of what we’re about to do has not yet set in.
10am-ish: No, it’s not a dream or my imagination – it’s a cornfield! And I got to walk through it! Laugh at my city-raised self, but this is the type of thing I saw in books as a child, and now on the internet as an adult with a laptop and smartphone. I was probably way more excited than I should have been for this, but there you go.
Side note: popcorn is currently my favourite food. And can you imagine how much popcorn I could make with all the corn from that field?! *insert emoji with hearts in its eyes*
11am-ish: We’re walking directly under the flight path for Heathrow, and every time a plane flies over head I feel the urge to stop and take a picture. So I did. About ten times. Here’s just one picture so that all that picture taking doesn’t feel like it’s for naught…
12pm: 12.5K down, 12.5K (which we would later discover to be 15.5K because of how the route was sign posted) to go – and we’re greeted with cupcakes! We all sit down and feast on the free snacks provided in lieu of lunch, and a couple of our teammates pay their respective visits to the injury tent. Tannice decides to get a head start, and then the rest of us set off, too.
1pm: Maz’s knee gives out, but she decides to finish the walk with a combination of hobbling while leaning on me and sticks that we found along the path. I’ve skipped forward to this photo of us at the pub for a celebratory drink to show that she reached the finish line in one piece.
The rest of the day until the finish line: So much nature, so much beauty. Here are a selection of photos of what we saw during the second half, so you can get an idea of just how beautiful this pathway is. (Sadly, we didn’t see any more cornfields – but I did see a horse!)
If got excited about a cornfield, I was obviously going to get excited about a horse. Here’s the picture to prove it happened.
5PM: WE ARE DONE. We are exhausted and one of us is limping, but we all made it and are greeted with bubbly (Side note: the team giving out the bubbly questioned Maz and my age – they thought we were under 18! Definitely my ‘vanity’ highlight of the day.) and swanky medals. (Which I totally wore for the rest of the day.)
After wolfing down dinner and resting for a bit it was off to the pub! Where we each enjoyed one pint before the tiredness caught up to us and said our goodbyes. After all, Jeff and I still had a two hour train journey home ahead of us.
It was a challenging day, but incredibly rewarding to acknowledge that I’d pushed my personal fitness limits as well as comfort zone to ask so many people for donation. I feel better and more accomplished for it, and I’d definitely do it again.
So far Team Arrow to the Knee has raised over £1K for Barts, but I’m still a long way off my personal target of £500. So if you have a few quid would would like to donate, you can do that here: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/katiepoole