Ineke’s Reflections on Big Vitality ½ Marathon – March 1st 2020

What a journey! What an amazing atmosphere! What a privilege!

Sports bag packed the night before, early to bed for an dawn rise to arrive on time at the Iconic Tower of London start. Conversations flowing as more runners entered the train at Harrow on the Hill – a buzz of conversations about the event, hopes and dreams, nervous and excited adrenaline flowing throughout. The waiting at the start, listening and sharing our stories of being a newbie, why we entered the race, good banter, lining up for the last minute use of the essential facilities, standing in my starting group with 5,000 other people, trying to keep warm, stretching and hydrating ourselves, watching the race on the big screen as the elite runners began their run fully focused – 45 minutes before my start time.

Our Wave of runners was the last to start, with high five’s, cheers, microphone support to get us going. The sun shining down on us, volunteers, supporters, charities, friendship/family, variety of music groups lined the course to make a positive and encouraging contribution to the well organised event.

My aim for running the race was to make a positive impact in sharing the love of Jesus through the work of Regeneration who do amazing work in Harrow Schools.

The buzz of the crowd of supporters seeing familiar faces and strangers cheering us on was a highlight. The route took us through windy Canary Wharf, my greatest fan was there cheering me on. A short view of the Thames and the Shard, across the cobbled streets of St Katherine’s Dock, before running over the iconic Tower Bridge and seeing the equally iconic Regen supporters waiting patiently for me to arrive, hugs all round, a quick chat and then onwards past my mother in-law’s childhood home in Tooley Street during those war years. More support from family/friends just after the 8-mile mark with high-five’s and shouts of encouragement. Onward to Greenwich with 5 miles to go. When I started to flag at the 11-mile mark, I was lifted by a gospel choir singing – How Great Thou Art, and an elderly Caribbean lady sitting at the bus stop shouting out “keep going you can do it” and another saying “you have more in you than you think.”

In Greenwich Town centre there was a real buzz – the finishing line at Cutty Sark with my whole family (including my son who also ran the race much quicker than me!) and finally I was done – completed the race that 6 months ago I thought would be impossible for me.

So what now, a week later? Running has become such a spiritual exercise for me. Isaiah 40:31 speaks of a hope that is assured, of gaining new strength, and that we can all soar as eagles and keep going, keep singing, keep praising, keep being grateful through the whole of life’s marathon race. And Hebrews 12:1-2 reminds us of the need to look away from the natural realm with its challenges and obstacles and to fasten our eyes on Jesus so we will able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination.

So thank you Regeneration, for the privilege of being able to run for you… but more than that, thank you Jesus for teaching me and reminding me of so many truths for my journey.