40 miles for 40 years of care Sarah has been showing her support for Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice since 2016 but this year, she is going the extra ’40 miles’ to celebrate our 40th anniversary. Read her inspiring story to find out why she’s running 40 miles each month by taking on four epic challenges… When I was about 38-years-old, I slipped a disc in my back. It was horrendous and made me feel very vulnerable. I spent the next year being very careful, worried that it would flare up again and sure enough it did, thanks to a sneeze! After more treatment, my consultant and physiotherapist told me I was taking too much care of my back. After all, I was pushing 40 and I had to expect some wear and tear on my body – especially after having five children! What they did say though, was that my core was weak and so I should focus on building up that strength. After being inactive for two years, I had put weight on and didn’t feel like myself anymore, so I decided to do something about it. This bad back was no longer going to be my ‘thing’ – I needed a new ‘thing’ to focus on! A friend of mine had been running for a few years and offered to let me run with her. It was really tough at first. I started off slow and steady by walking and couldn’t believe that I could barely manage a slow plod to the end of my road! My friend set me a challenge in October to run a three-and-a-half mile route by Christmas – I thought it was impossible but sure enough, come Christmas, I ran the whole thing and I haven’t looked back since! This is my fourth year of running and I have to say, it’s become so much more than just increasing my fitness. I run when I’m happy, sad, stroppy, frustrated and everything in between – it’s become a real stress-buster! At 44-years-old, it has taught me more about myself that I had realised. This year, Sarah is taking on the incredible task of running 40 miles every month, as well as taking on four big challenges – a run for each decade since the Hospice first opened. This includes: Challenge Date Distance Edinburgh Marathon Sunday 26th May 26.2 miles Black Country Half Marathon Saturday 6th July 13.1 miles Birmingham Half Marathon Sunday 13th October 13.1 miles Birmingham St Mary’s Jingle Bell Jog Sunday 1st December 3.1 miles (5k) I first decided to take on the challenges before choosing to also commit to running 40 miles every month. I thought that there is so much preparation and training for the challenges – so I’ll be doing loads of running anyway – that why not, might as well include it! Plus, it’s the Hospice’s 40th anniversary year and so I thought it would be a fantastic addition. I am probably most nervous about the Edinburgh Marathon as this will be my biggest run. Scotland has a special place in my heart though as it’s where my family are originally from, and I’m looking forward to visiting some of them when I head up there. I read somewhere that less than 1% of the population will ever run a marathon, so being part of the 1% club will be awesome! I’m feeling less nervous about completing the Birmingham and Black Country half marathons but I know they will still be physically and mentally challenging. I ran the Birmingham half marathon last year but the weather was awful – freezing temperatures and torrential rain! I also got a terrible stitch at 10 miles but I still finished 20 minutes faster than my training time, which I was over the moon with. However this year, I’m determined to beat last years’ time and hopefully in much better weather! Finally, I think the Jingle Bell Jog will be a really emotional one as it will mark the end of an amazing year of fundraising. At this stage, I have no idea if I will be glad to have finished or keen to do more but I just hope I raise lots of money for the Hospice. I have been raising money for Birmingham St Mary’s for over three years now. My sister and niece work at the Hospice and the stories they share are just humbling. Yes, there is sadness and heartbreak but there is also joy, happiness and thankfulness. Those who have had contact with the Hospice are always so grateful for their support. Too often, I hear tales of people who do not know what they would have done without the care and support given to both their loved ones and themselves. All I can say to the staff at the Hospice is thank you – even though it seems inadequate – just thank you for everything. Thank you Sarah for sharing your story with us – we wish you the best of luck with all your challenges! If you want to keep up-to-date with Sarah’s challenge or to sponsor her, you can visit her Just Giving page here. Or, if Sarah has motivated you take on your own challenge during our 40th anniversary, take a look at our 40 ways to fundraise for ideas and tips.