They say the key to a good race day is preparation; eat well, train conservatively and stay focussed on the run. 

I must admit, my preparation was lacking in all 3 of these areas, as in the weeks leading up to the Run Heaton Park 10km run I was deep in the panic of end-of-year university assignments.

In the midst of this I knew that the run was just around the corner and that it was for a brilliant cause - raising funds to support people with a learning disability. Being a scholar in inclusive education, this was a cause I was keen to get behind, so I made sure to spread the word amongst my friends, family, colleagues and running buddies that I was doing some fundraising and they all rallied round to support me and this cause.

Despite the lack of physical training, as the day drew closer I felt I was as prepared as I could be!

Race day

I woke up on race day with a hot ball of tension in my stomach. I did not feel ready and was seriously doubting my ability to get through it (despite that 3 weeks earlier I had managed to run 21 km, which is a half marathon). 

When I arrived at Heaton Park, I picked up my race pack which included my number and a wonderful and vividly pink #TeamMencap t-shirt. 

As I wandered round the race village the nervousness I was feeling melted away amongst my 300 fellow runners, in a sea of pink. 

After the warm up, lead by representatives from Pure Gym, we made our way to the start line. Anticipation was building. And then we were off!

The race

The route was two laps around Heaton Park, taking in some of the finest sights of this beautiful and historic park.

The start/finish line was at Heaton Hall (which is where some scenes from David Tennant's Cassanova were filmed), and the route took us round the golf course, boating lake and saw plenty of horses. A better route could not have been asked for!

I, however, did not have a chance to take in many of these sights as I was set on finishing the race in 55 minutes. I tried to keep to a moderate pace, that wasn't too challenging. 

On the first lap I got talking to a lovely Canadian man who was aiming for the same finish as myself. We had an engrossing and enlightening chat as we ran around the park.

However, as we progressed round the first lap, the sun came out in force, and we started to make our way up a hill, which I found really challenging. After 26 minutes of running, I took a walking rest. My new friend raced on and I started to struggle.

When I came round the hill on the second lap I felt utterly finished. My back was gone, I had two major stitches and I was as dry as burnt toast.

When I got to the top I picked up my pace for the final straight to the finish line. All the runners that had finished were lined up, cheering on other runners as they crossed the finish line. It was a relief and such a boost to hear their cheers as I finished the race.

It was a long, hard, hot run, all for a great cause. It was worth it.

My achievements

In the end my fundraising efforts collected £182 for Mencap. I am grateful to every single person who sponsored me.

My race time was 56 minutes 33 seconds, which is 1 second slower than my best ever 10km time!

I will definitely be back at Heaton Park for this event next year, and will take on that hill again! 

I'm very thankful to all at those at Mencap for arranging and hosting such a wonderful event, and in particular Lucy from the Mencap Events Team for all her encouragement.

Find out more

Has Christoper's story inspired you? If so, you can sign up for next year's Run Heaton Park event now!

We have 5km and 10km running events all over the UK - in London Greenwich ParkCardiff Bute ParkBirmingham Sutton Park and London Hyde Park. Get involved and join #TeamMencap, go for a personal best time, or just take in the sights and scenery of some of the UK’s most iconic parks

Or, if you fancy something else, why not take a look at our Events pages? There's lot of different things for you to get involved in and try to raise some money to help support our work improving the lives of people with a learning disability.

If you have any questions, you can also speak to our Events Team:

Feeling inspired?

If Christopher's story has inspired you, why not sign up for the Run Heaton Park 2019 event?