Long time friend of the Bristol shop Mark Bywater is running the London Marathon this year, and we're right behind him. Mark is hoping to raise £2000 for The Huntington’s Disease Association, a charity close to his heart, here's Mark, in his own words to tell his story (read to the end to see how to donate and win a £50 gift card to spend on The Bristol Shop).
I started running in 2008, when me and my wife took on The Bristol 10k to shift some weight and try to get fit. At the time it was the hardest thing I'd ever done, I didn’t think I would ever want to run again. I did however and decided to push up to a half marathon. My first half marathon was The Cardiff Half. I loved this race and still say its one of the best half marathons you can run. It’s in the Autumn and it really was nice when you come up through the park at the end. It’s also a bit like the London Marathon as it’s on the TV and well supported the whole way round.
5.5 Marathons in One Week
Once I had run a few half’s the natural thing to do would be run a marathon. Or 5 and a half in one week… My friend Danny Maddocks (founder of The Bristol Shop) had recently roller skated 120 miles from Bristol to London to raise money and awareness for cot death charity FSID (now named The Lullaby Trust). So in my wisdom, on a 5 mile run one afternoon, I decided I could run to London. I had never ran more than 13.1 miles in my life, and in my excitement, I emailed The Huntington’s Disease Association and told them my plans. On May 2nd 2011 I set off from Bristol, heading to Wembley Stadium. I ran a marathon every day for 5 days and then a half marathon on the last. It was hard work but I really enjoyed getting to Wembley stadium and seeing all the people cheering me on. We raised nearly £4000 which was fantastic and made the whole run worth every blister!
My first official marathon was the first ever Bournemouth Marathon in 2013. I was gaining weight again after taking it easy since the run to Wembley and after looking in the mirror one morning I thought, this can’t go on. So weight loss was my real motivation to start running marathons properly. The thing with a 10k is, I can get away now with just a couple of weeks training and its not enough motivation to get me out of bed in the morning. But training for a marathon is almost a life style choice. You’re off the booze and eating well for months (or should be!). On top of that the training is long and almost daily. Training for Bournemouth I lost nearly 4 stone in weight and it literally fell off. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to lose the weight with just eating well and my running.
So that’s what I tend to do now, I get fat, and then sign up for a marathon!
In all seriousness I love running. I generally hate the first day of training, but then it’s onwards and upwards. You see progress with every run and you see progress with every race. I love collecting the medals and I have nearly 40 to my name so far. I have ran races all over the country, and my half marathon personal best has come down by 45 minutes. I think this is what I love most about running; I love to shave a bit of time from my PB during a race. Often people ask me “Mark, what’s a good 10k/half/marathon time?” As long as you are beating your PB, it’s a good time. It doesn’t matter if you take 4 hours to get round a half marathon, a good time next time is 3 hours 58! Running is a very personal thing, Nobody is looking at your time but you!
On To The London Marathon 2016
So on to London… It is every runners dream to complete The London Marathon. I'm finding my knees and joints aren’t enjoying the long runs anymore and I really struggled through the tough Bristol & Bath Marathon last year. So I have decided after I run London Marathon in 2016, I will retire from the 26.2. I have also raised over £5000 for various charities over the last 5 years so I thought I would like to finish, almost 5 years to the day that I left for London, by raising funds for The Huntington’s Disease Association. A charity close to my heart and to my family. We have several people within the family that carry the HD gene. I would really love to smash my £2000 target on this very last marathon in London.
The training is going well, the miles are racking up and I have a steady pace. I have a marathon PB of 3.58.29 and I would love to beat that. Sometimes you run a race and think “I’d just like to finish” and others you think “I can get a PB here.” I am in the middle on this one really! My pace is showing signs that it will be close, and with such a well-supported and pretty flat course, I think I can do it!
Support Mark & Win a £50 Gift Card for The Bristol Shop
The team at The Bristol Shop have witnessed first hand the pain Huntington's Disease has caused Mark and his family. If you would like to sponsor Mark's run please visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/markbywater - everyone who donates will go into a prize draw to win a £50 gift card to spend with us, you can let us know you've donated by tagging us on social (@TheBristolShop) - popping us an email (email@example.com), mentioning us in your donation comments or leave a comment on this page below. All sponsorship is gratefully received be it £1, £5, £10 or more and all will be entered into the prize draw.
Good Luck Mark, we hope you reach your £2000 target and set a new personal best!