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Total raised so far

132%

£1,325.00 of £1,000 target +£283.75 Gift Aid See breakdown

Recent donations

7 months ago

Anonymous

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

Well done, Sam & Ian

7 months ago

Rebecca Erskine

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

Big Congratulations Simon!

7 months ago

Lucy Rennie

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

Congratulations Simon!

7 months ago

Alex Scrowther

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

Hope everything went well today! Fantastic charity choice as well!

7 months ago

John Whelan

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

Good luck Si!

7 months ago

Sam Harry

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

Good luck Simon

7 months ago

Jo Kemp

£5.00

+ £1.25 Gift Aid

Good luck , and most of all enjoy!! x

7 months ago

Angela

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

Best of Luck Simon!!

7 months ago

Veronica

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

Good Luck

7 months ago

Saskia

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

Run Si Run!! You’ve got this!

Simon does the Great North Run!

Event date: 10th September 2023

Simon Withington is raising money for Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charitable Fund

My story

This year I’m taking part in the Great North Run, the world’s largest half-marathon, on 10th September to raise money for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Leighton Hospital in Cheshire via the Mid Cheshire Hospitals (MCH) Charity.

We have first-hand experience of the wonderful care the NICU provides, as our son Edward was a patient there for five days after a difficult birth. He was extremely well looked after, as were myself and Anna, and we’re so thankful for everything they did for our family.

We would be very grateful for any support you are able to give. All the money raised, less any platform fees, will go towards equipment for the NICU to improve the care and experience of their patients and families.

** The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) **

The Neonatal Unit looks after the poorliest babies at Leighton Hospital. Patients can be admitted for any number of reasons, they may have suffered complications as a result of a difficult birth or born prematurely. Worldwide, one in ten babies is born before full-term and many of these babies need assistance in the first weeks or months of their lives as a result.

As is unfortunately the case with many areas of our hospitals, the NICU struggles for funding to afford all the specialist equipment needed to provide the best care and experience for the babies and families in their care. Any money that we can raise together to help them with this equipment will make a huge difference to the lives of the families whom they serve.

Our Experience with NICU

Our son, Edward wasn’t premature - in fact he was born a day late, much to the horror of his mother who insists on being early everywhere. We’d planned a calm homebirth, but when Anna went into labour with Edward, we discovered that he was the wrong way around (breech). This changed everything and suddenly there were ambulances outside, paramedics on standby, and when Edward was born he needed resuscitating before being being rushed to Leighton Hospital, firstly to A&E and then to NICU.

We were incredibly lucky that Edward was ok - concerns of any long-term damage were ruled out fairly quickly and, after a few days of careful observations, he was allowed home. We will be forever grateful for the care Edward received, from the paramedics, A&E staff, and then during his stay in NICU.

** My Running Journey **

I started the Couch-to-5k programme in February last year, for the third time. Previously I’d proved competent at ‘couch’ but hadn’t made much progress towards ‘5k’. This time I managed to stick with the programme, thanks largely to running it ‘with’ my friend Tom Baker remotely, and keeping each other honest and motivated. I ‘graduated’ C25K on 9th April ’22 at Northwich Park Run, finishing in 26 minutes and 34 seconds.

After running 5ks fairly regularly through the summer I needed a new goal, so I signed up for a 10k ‘Running GP’ event at nearby Oulton Park, built up my distances, and completed it in 53:06 on 20th November '22. Tom ran the same distance on the same day, and so we decided to sign up for the Great North Run together.

I joined Northwich Running Club in April this year and have been running 5 and 8 miles distances regularly since, with a couple of 10 mile runs too, and am now running three times every week in preparation for the Great North Run.

** The Great North Run **

The Great North Run is the world’s largest half-marathon. It’s a 13.1 mile run (21.1km) starting from the motorway in the centre of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, heading south down the A167 over the Tyne Bridge, then east out towards the coast, to finish in South Shields.

Weather-wise, it could be blistering heat or snowing in September, so I’ve no idea what to expect - I’d rather it was cold and wet!

My main objective is just to finish, without any stops or walking, to raise some money for the NICU. I’m going to leave it all out there on the tarmac, and I’ll be aiming to finish as close to the 2 hour mark as I can. If I can get across the line in under 2 hours, I’ll be delighted.


Thank you for checking out my page. Making a donation is fast, easy and secure thanks to Give as you Live Donate. They'll take your donation and pass it onto Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charitable Fund.

My updates

7 months ago

It’s taken me a few days to recover and organise my thoughts on Sunday’s Great North Run… it was an absolutely incredible experience and I feel so lucky to have been able to take part in it. I really wasn’t prepared for just how many people would be there - either running themselves or lining the streets offering encouragement, jelly babies, or ice lollies! I’ve never experienced anything like it, it was absolutely awesome.

According to a post-race email, Sunday’s was the hottest Great North Run ever. The sun was out from early on and shining down on us fiercely until about 1pm. We were in our corals on the central motorway from around 10:30 and while Mo Farah and the other elite men started running at 11:00, it was just past 11:30 before I crossed the start line.

It was hard not to get carried away at the start, the first two miles were downhill and I had a lot of nervous energy - the BBC coverage actually caught me checking my watch and deliberately slowing down just after I’d begun running! Those couple of miles I went a little quick, but I settled into my race pace by the third mile. Already my watch was slightly out of sync, showing that I’d travelled further than the mile markers on the course would suggest - I was doing a lot of bobbing and weaving trying to pass slower runners or walkers - not something I’d ever experienced before. This meant the pace on my watch was quicker than my ‘real’ pace - though I didn’t realise this at the time. I was aiming to average under 9 minutes and 7 seconds per mile, which would see me across the line in under 2 hours.

Around mile 4 - and the start of the first real hill - it started to feel like hard work, not ideal as I was only a quarter of the way there! I had an energy gel, as it was about the 30min mark, some water, and took an ice pop offered by somebody in the crowd which was fantastic for cooling down a little bit. I drank half the water, then threw the other half over my head, something I repeated at most of the water stations along the course. Even with this, mile 4 was a bit slow at 9:26 pace (9:13 by my watch) and I knew I needed to speed it up a little bit. Mile 5 was similarly tough (9:23 / 9:17 pace), but signalled the end of that uphill section and for miles 6, 7, and 8 I managed to speed up and get my pace closer to 9:00 minutes.

The 10th mile was another rough section of the race for me. It was an undulating road section and I was getting really tired and very hot. I could feel my heart rate creeping up and I recorded the slowest mile of the race at 9:36 (9:25 on my watch). I think a lot of the runners around me at that point were also tiring as I was struggling to run at ‘my’ pace, dodging around folks more than ever. This was the hardest part of the race for me and it would’ve been so easy to slow down, or walk for a while, and give up on my goal of finishing in under two hours. I remember thinking to myself that that night I’d lie in bed and I’d either have achieved it or not, and how I felt was up to me in that moment. I thought of everybody who’d sponsored me, everybody I’d shared my goal with, and decided there was no way I was giving up. I’d trained for this for far too long, been through too much to let it slip.

After mile 10, I could start to think about the end. Even though it was a slight uphill, I managed to speed up again as we got closer to South Shields. The crowds were incredibly here, I think they could sense that we all needed as much help as possible. In the run up, I’d been thinking about the 13.1 miles as a 10 mile run, like I’d done in practice, with a 5k ‘park run’ on the end. I think that helped, as I knew I was only at-most half an hour from the end if I kept to my pace. Throughout the race I’d been alternating between turning my music right up and turning it right down and soaking in the atmosphere. I remember in this section visiting the side of the track quite often to take high-fives from children lining the road and thanking them for their support. I very gratefully took another ice pop here too! I actually had to moderate my pace here, to keep something in the tank for the last few miles.

Mile 11-12 was the last big climb and it really hurt but this section was entirely within South Shields and the support was getting louder and louder. I sped up slightly again whilst trying not to get carried away. At the very end of mile 12 we could see the sea and hit a steep downhill down to the last corner and the final mile.

The final mile was along the coast road - I turned my music off entirely here and gave it everything I had, dropping my split time to 8 minutes at 14 seconds for that last section. I’ve seen a couple of clips where I’ve been in the background of GoPro footage and it’s not pretty, but by this point the only thing I cared about was getting across that finish line. I was soaked through with water from the drinks stations or showers and sweat in roughly equal measure and I was running on empty.

When I eventually crossed the finish line, in 1:58:45, I was so incredibly happy - and tired! Despite having trained a lot over the last 18 months, I wasn’t ready for the heat on the day or just ‘how long’ 13.1 miles was going to feel. I couldn’t have kept going without the support of the crowds who’d turned out to cheer us all on - or the support of my family, friends, colleagues, or everyone I run with at Northwich Running Club throughout this year. Really, though, my finishing time is entirely unimportant. What really matters is that together we’ve raised a fantastic amount of money for the NICU at Leighton Hospital, and it’s of that which I’m most proud. Thank you all so very, very much.

Image uploaded with update

7 months ago

One week to go!

I entered the ballot for the Great North Run on the 9th January, which feels like an incredibly long time ago now. At that point the furthest I’d ever run was 10km and I’d only done that twice. On the 20th February, the ballot results were released and I found out I had a place… and began training in earnest. Here we are many, many miles later with a week to go… and I’m still not quite ready! I’m feeling equally excited and nervous, but most of all I feel incredibly grateful for all the love and support I’ve had from my friends, family, colleagues, and fellow runners in this journey.

On Friday we hit my fundraising target of a thousand pounds and now we’re well past it! When I set that target, I felt it was ambitious but there was no harm in aiming high. I’ve been blown away by everybody’s generosity and I’m absolutely thrilled that we’ve managed, you’ve managed(!), to raise so much money for such a good cause. Thank you all so very much.

I’m in the final stages of preparation now. Since my last update I’ve been running three times a week again, including some very hot and hilly 5ks round our campsite on holiday! I’m pleased to report that I’ve not had any more injury concerns recently, which is a huge relief. This morning I went out for my final solo pace run, 6.25 miles (10k) holding to an average pace of 8:50. On Tuesday and Thursday I’ll be running with Northwich Running Club, easing off on pace and distance slightly so I’m a little fresher for next weekend. Then I’ll be finalising my playlist, packing, and heading up to Newcastle early on Saturday morning before the race on the Sunday.

If you’d like to track me, you can on the Great Run mobile app (Great Run: Running Events) - just select the 2023 AJ Bell Great North Run and then search for my bib number, 19688. I’ll be posting my race results here too, after rehydrating with a beer or two! I’m still aiming to finish in under 2 hours, but I’m concerned my pace might drop off in the second half. Only one way to find out now… see you on the other side!

Image uploaded with update

8 months ago

Not long after my last update and exactly a month ago, on Tuesday 11th July, I was running down to meet Northwich Running Club for one of our regular runs when I felt something in the top of my right foot. I thought nothing of it, but after the club run it was really quite sore. It was still sore on the Wednesday morning, but slightly better on the Thursday so I went for another run with NRC that evening. My foot rapidly started aching and I pulled up after a mile as it was getting progressively worse.

I contacted a physio immediately and managed to get an appointment for the Monday. Since then I've been doing several exercises every day, more recently hitting the gym for even more strength exercises, but my diagnosis of tendonitis has kept me from running much at all.

The last few weeks have been really tough. I've been so excited about the Great North Run and felt like I was really well prepared for it - all I had to do was not pick up an injury. When I signed up for it, I didn't really know if I could run that distance. Then I wondered how quickly I might do it. Recently, the question has been how much it'll hurt on the day. I've really missed the endorphins from regular exercise too and, honestly, my mood has been generally fairly low.

It's not all bad news though. Despite only running about once a week this last month (down from 3 times a week!) my pace has remained fairly consistent and my cardio fitness doesn't seem to have fallen off a cliff. Today, a month after the first pain, I ran for the first time without any pain. I'm hoping that I can start to build up my mileage again, albeit nervously, for these last few weeks.

My goal of finishing under two hours seems far more difficult now, but I've not given up on it entirely. I have no idea if the tendonitis will return but am determined that come race day, I'll run the whole way, no matter the pain - not just for myself, but for everyone who has supported me in my running journey and, most importantly, for the NICU at Leighton Hospital.

Thank you all so much for your support.

9 months ago

With the Great North Run just 10 weeks away now, training is going well and I'm feeling fairly good about my progress. I went out for a pace run this morning, aiming for 10 miles at 9 minutes each - if I can do this on the day, I'd have about 30 minutes to get through the last 3.1 miles (5km) afterwards and cross the line in two hours.

It's hard to know what it'll be like on the day - I've heard scary things about some of the hills on the route, and it could be 30 degrees... but breaking 2 hours feels like a real possibility. Here's hoping!

This morning was the first run I've done on my own in a few weeks, and while it's good to test myself a bit (and listen to some loud music!) training has been so much easier in a group. I want to give a huge thanks to all the guys and girls at Northwich Running Club for all their support and company since I first ran with them in March.

A huge thank you also to everyone who has sponsored me so far - I'll be thinking of you all as I struggle through in September and your generous donations will really help the families of the patients in the NICU at Leighton Hospital. Thank you so much.

Image uploaded with update

Simon Withington is fundraising for

Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charitable Fund

Charity number: 1049008

Simon Withington is fundraising as part of

Great North Run 2023

10th September 2023

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