I was supposed to be doing the Brighton Half Marathon this past weekend. Unfortunately I had to drop out due to illness but we decided, as we love Brighton, to head there anyway. It got me thinking about our day trip there in November 2018. I got a last minute place in the Brighton 10k and, as we headed away from the finish line, I came across a lady in sitting in a door way on the high street. We walked past her but something stopped me. I had a small finishers pack that consisted of water and a banana and I didn’t really need it as we were heading for lunch. I went back and gave my ‘winnings’ to her and she was so grateful. I often think about her wishing I’d given her more.
This time around, I knew there would be more people running the half marathon than there were in attendance at the 10k and possibly better, larger goodie bags at the finish. It made me think about that lady so I sent a tweet out on the Friday evening before the race.
If you’re racing this weekend please consider giving the goodies in your finishers pack to someone homeless. I did this last year when I did the Brighton 10k and I’ve honestly never seen someone so happy! If you can afford to enter races then you don’t need the free food.
I wasn’t entirely sure what the reaction would be but I shouldn’t have been surprised with what the running community came back with. Likes, and retweets steadily came in. Replies to my post included lovely messages like, ‘You must be a very kind person wish I thought of doing that have a lovely weekend’, ‘What a lovely thing to do and a great idea’ and ‘Great gesture, well done’. The running community is full of such positive people.
I did receive one comment that challenged my thoughts. They said that they’d been able to enter races which are in the future but then gone to bed hungry in the interim because of unforeseen circumstances. They pointed out that, although you may have the money to enter races at the time that places are on sale, circumstances can change. Come race day your life could be completely different, turned around by a spell of bad luck which of course I agree with. Always think about your own circumstances and, if they are good, consider donating your freebies.
A quick search on the Run Britain website shows that there are as many as 38 races up and down the country during the weekend of the 1st to the 3rd of March alone. Imagine how many people we could help if we gave away the fresh food like bananas that won’t last long, the food that you would never buy for yourself normally, and the food that you don’t like and will gather dust in your cupboards and end up in the bin. Think also about those t-shirts or vests that you may be given and the space blankets that could help keep someone warm. The medal and the experience of running is what I want to take away with me.
I’m proud to say that, since my tweet went out, I’ve had runners replying letting me know they saw my message and acted on it. Someone at the Brighton Half Marathon gave their freebies away and even someone as far away as Barcelona helped out a local person after completing a race over there!
I really want to take this further and attempt to make a difference so my next step is to try and work with a local race and a local homeless charity to set up a donation station. From experience, the Great South Run goodie bags are great so I’d love to work with them to see if we can do something for the Portsmouth and Southsea homeless community! Fingers crossed I can get something set up for October.
If you would like to help before your next race you can visit homeless link where you can search for your local homeless services. Most of these services will take donations of food and clothing.