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John Pickup | Why We Run

John Pickup | Why We Run

Words & Images: John Pickup

"I have been asked ‘why’ I run quite a lot and over the years amd the answer has always been different. It all started as a way to lose a few pounds after I got too old to play football but it soon shifted to trying raise some money for charity and later a release and some much needed headspace.

When I first started, I did what most new runners do and try and run as fast as possible with no idea what I was doing! I spent a few weeks wondering how I would ever be able to get to a point where this would be enjoyable (after all, I spent most of my teenage years, 20’s and half of my 30’s chasing a ball, or the man with the ball) - Then, one random 10k run, it hit me, the ‘tipping point’ I’d been waiting for, I actually enjoyed the run itself, not the endorphins after - the actual run… I’ll always remember that day, it was the start of a long term relationship!

Fast forward a couple of months, I entered my first London marathon ballot for the ill fated 2020 race and after my entry, a number of charities presented them self as options to raise much needed funds in return for a place in the event. I was drawn to Make a Wish UK straight away - a much smaller charity than it’s American big brother. The work they do to support children living with life limiting conditions peaked my interest and, without another thought, I applied for a charity place.

I was soon accepted into team ‘wish hero’ and another long term relationship was born, I was compelled and determined to raise as much money as I could for an amazing charity - during this time, my ‘why’ was definitely to challenge myself to pursue people to part with a couple of quid! After a false start that saw me run the virtual marathon around my local community, over 16 hours - doing 2.62 each hour on the hour (in an attempt to maximise the fundraising effort), I finally made it to the start line of the London marathon 2021. It really is the most special race I have ever run and memories that will last a lifetime were made.

I wanted to carry on my mission to raise money for Make a Wish but had the understanding that I couldn’t just run ‘another’ marathon. I decided to ramp the difficulty up and enter the world of ultra running. Hours and hours of training, thousands and thousands of metres of elevation later and I was ready to run the 2022 Pendle Way in a Day. A 45mile event with around 2000 meters of elevation on one of the worst days in the history of the race, over 50% of the people who started that day, didn’t finish.. A tick in the ultra box, some more funds raised for an amazing charity and the itch to run ultra distance firmly scratched.

The next page in this story was getting older…. Turning 40 was something I wasn’t particularly going to celebrate but my friends and family wanted to do something special for me, and I ended up getting engaged (that’s another story for another day)! I took the opportunity to craft the 40 @ 40 challenge that consisted of 2 1/2 marathons and 2 marathons in - 5 week period (culminating in back to back marathons in Manchester and London). Possibly my biggest challenge to date and one that I thoroughly enjoyed and had to come through a bit of adversity, and really sore legs, to overcome. 

These days, my ‘why’ is very much geared around keeping fit both physically and mentally - I’ve found a hobby that gives me the headspace that I need but it’s also brought some very special people into my life and for that I will be forever grateful, and I’ll definitely keep lacing up those running shoes!"


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