Wednesday, December 20, 2017

‘One Foot In Front Of The Other’ – Raising Money For STAR

What is it that makes a middle aged man want to run a 100 kilometre ‘ultramarathon’?

Peter Ford – who’s 51 and in May will take on that challenge by running from London to Brighton – has a ready answer: a desire to help STAR “because of their work in supporting refugees settle in the UK.”

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This takes many forms – campaigning for Equal Access to education for asylum seekers, pressing the government to change the rules on reuniting refugee children in the UK with their families, running local volunteering projects and English conversation classes at universities all over the country to welcome and support refugees.

His daughter Izzy is President of Birmingham STAR and Peter says this family connection is also a motivation, “I have been very impressed by the work of the charity. I would feel honoured to help raise the profile of this great charity and raise some money for it.”

Peter has significant experience of long-distance races, having first run a marathon back in 2003. Though “never good at team sports” running always appealed.

“I have always been good at putting one foot in front of the other and at school I got chosen for cross country and 1500m. Therefore running was the obvious sport for me,” he says.

His first race was the result of a “drunken dare” at the millennium. Eventually he moved up to the ultramarathon discipline in 2013 and in 2016 he completed his longest race to date – 52 miles from Taunton to Minehead.

Clearly determined to succeed he’s not at all fazed by the challenge in front of him, citing careful preparation in Plymouth where the family live, and on breaks running across Cornish beaches.

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Peter and his brother in-law Simon run the Royal Parks Ultra 50k in London

“I’m following a training programme that means I will run for five days a week which will include at least one long run a week. The long runs will get longer as the training goes on”, he says.

“I will also do some strength training to make sure my upper body is in good condition as well as my legs. To help keep me motivated I am entering a few races which I will use as training runs and to measure my progress. This will include two marathons and a 50km race.

“My secret weapon in the week before any long race is beetroot juice; a glass every day in the week leading up to the race will help my endurance. I certainly wouldn’t want to have it all the time though.”

“Looking forward”

It may seem strange to the average runner but Peter is “actually looking forward” to his 100k race because there will be other “like-minded slightly crazy people” taking part. He also points out that ultramarathons are run at a slower pace than shorter races.

He goes as far as to say ultramarathons are “easily achievable if you have a positive frame of mind. If you start getting negative thoughts then it gets much more difficult.”

His family, he says, think he is “slightly bonkers” but know running makes him happy. What’s more they “have learnt to put up with my smelly running kit and muddy shoes.”

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Izzy Ford campaigning with friends from Birmingham STAR

“Mad but good”

Not surprisingly Izzy is “very proud” of her father but agrees he “is mad, but good mad.” She thinks after reaching the limits of distance running Peter may “move onto extreme temperatures. If he mentions the North Pole Marathon many eyebrows will be raised.”

Joking or not Izzy is clear that “Dad is a big fan of the fact that STAR is student led and has seen how passionately I talk about the charity and therefore was keen to help.

“Once Dad had decided to run the London to Brighton challenge, he was keen to support my work with STAR. I was delighted. He realises how important it is to help refugees and welcome them into the country.

“I’m so happy he’s running for STAR. He will definitely do it.”

You can help Peter in his London2Brighton Challenge on 26th May by donating through JustGiving.

Posted by STAR team on 20/12/2017 at 12:10 PM