On Sunday 12th October, Richard James, CEO of YMCA St Paul’s Group, will be warming up excitedly somewhere in the start field alongside nearly 16,000 other runners at the Royal Parks Half Marathon in London.
At the crack of the starter’s pistol they will beheading out on to the streets of London, running for 13.1 miles past famous landmarks like Buckingham Palace, London Eye, and the Houses of Parliament – as well as Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens, before finishing in the stunning location of Hyde Park.
By running the Half Marathon, Richard will be laying the foundation to not just his good health, but yours too, and to that of the whole community.
Aiming to raise £500 for community health and wellbeing projects run by the YMCA, the Chief Executive is running for children and young people, parents and professionals, seniors and everyone else living in the London Boroughs that YMCA LSW operates in.
What will the money you raise go towards?
“With the monies raised from the Royal Parks run, we will be able to run more free and subsidised activities across our sites and centres. We are especially trying to reach those who are less inclined to join fitness centres or who doesn’t have the resources or opportunity to access ‘traditional’ physical activities”, Richard explains.
“For instance, we would like to set up a ‘Neuro Dance’ project; a creative dance project for people with neurological conditions, including Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Aphasia and Parkinson’s Disease. This project aims to help improve balance, coordination and joint mobility by using a creative outlet”.
“Another project we would be able to launch is a community project in Mitcham, working with young people in the East of the Borough who don’t have access to the facilities that others do”.
“As these projects demonstrate, the difference between the YMCA and other fitness centres is that we believe in health and wellbeing for all, not just health and profit for those who can afford it or who already access it”
What about your personal motivation? Why did running a half marathon appeal to you?
“I feel very privileged because I had a quite active childhood and that is something I have kept with me as an adult”, Richard says. “However not everyone are so lucky as to have such an active upbringing. Even in the wealthy boroughs of South West London, the life expectancy differs massively depending on which street you live on.
“We at the YMCA want everyone to have the same opportunities to access physical activities, regardless of postcode, age and disabilities. We live in an amazing part of the world with so much space, and my hope is that with the help of the YMCA, more people will go out and use the parks and the river to be active”.
How is the training going?
“I try to do two runs, one short and one long, every week and my goal is to do the Half Marathon under 2 hours. My advice for anyone who wants to attempt doing a run, short or long, is to take little steps and make smaller goals. For instance I try to add half a mile to my run each week”, Richard explains.
He says: “I try to fit the runs in around my schedule. For instance, I run home from work, and that works really well because I have realised that I am less inclined to eat unhealthy snack when I get home after running.
“Also during the weekends if I do a run I will do it in the Park, with my five year old daughter accompanying me on her bike. The problem is, she’s real fast! So that’s a good work out; me chasing after her, making sure she doesn’t cycle into a pond or onto the roads”.
Please support YMCA LSW’s Health & Wellbeing Projects for people of all ages and all abilities in the local community, by supporting Richard’s Royal Parks Half Marathon run. Donate to his Virgin Money Giving page by clicking here.