A marathon in a month

Hi, I’m Alex. In the run-up to Undiagnosed Children’s Day this year, SWAN UK members were encouraged to try a ‘virtual’ marathon travelling the distance of a marathon over the period of a month, by running, walking, or being pushed in a buggy.

Just over 26 miles in a month? I mocked. That’s less than a mile a day! What an easy way to get the kids excited about exercise, get a free certificate, and maybe even foster some long-term enthusiasm for getting out and about instead of playing on their iPads …

So, I signed my three children – six-year-old Jackie, two-year-old Caitlin, and my four-year-old swan, Benjamin – up. It wasn’t compulsory to raise money, but on the off-chance I pinned up a couple of sponsor sheets at home and at church, and was amazed to get pledges totalling well over £300! So we really had to go for it. I installed an app on my phone that enabled me to log how far we’d gone, and we were off!

Some of us found it easier than others to rack up the miles. For Benjamin, in the comfort of his buggy, it was a piece of cake really – he has no choice but to come with me every day as I drop his older sister at school in one direction, then his younger sister at nursery in the other direction, then maybe pop into the High Street to do some shopping, rain or shine. His marathon was done and dusted in a fortnight, and my arm and leg muscles took the brunt of it! Not that he could relax then though, he carried on the same punishing regime for the rest of term and must have completed several full marathons by now.

The littlest also did the majority of her marathon in her pushchair, or more often squished alongside Benjamin
in our increasingly-cramped double buggy. Having a typical two-year-old’s disdain for road safety, the stretches that she walked were spent firmly restricted by a pair of reins (made more acceptable to her by the addition of a dinosaur backpack and hood), and the parts that she balance-biked were quite frankly terrifying…

Counter-intuitively, it was my eldest daughter who struggled to make the distance, despite adding in some extra walks at weekends. ‘But Mummy,’ she complained, ‘it’s not fair: you don’t measure the miles and miles I run around in the playground at lunchtime.’ And it’s true, I didn’t. Nonetheless, even Jackie managed to scrape through before the end of the month, completing her 26.2 miles in a total of ten hours and 52 minutes. Around 2.3 miles an hour is pretty good going for a six-year-old.
So, I think all three of them – super-speedy Benjamin, super-squashed Caitlin, and super-persevering Jackie, totally deserve their big, shiny, SWAN UK medals, although we still haven’t stopped arguing over who gets to stick the certificate on their bedroom wall first!

In total (with a generous addition of £100 from a local group of footballers I’ve never even met) we raised £481 for SWAN UK. I think we’ve all earned a bit of iPad time now.

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