Thursday 9 May 2019

Clare Kelly prepares for the Royal Parks Half Marathon


In October Clare Kelly will be joining 10 other runners to take on the Royal Parks Half Marathon in support of Emmaus. We caught up with her to see how she’s feeling and what she’s doing to prepare for the day.

Why were you interested in running the Royal Parks Half Marathon for Emmaus?

Sometimes I watch the news and I feel utterly powerless to help people. It’s all too easy to become overwhelmed by it all and in fact, that can render you almost immobile. I was fed up of feeling like that and realised there was something that everyone could do in their own way, however small.

My friends were already doing the half marathon for Emmaus so when they said there were still a couple of spaces, I looked at my wife and said: “Oh yes, so we are running a half marathon, OK?’ and that was it.

Running a half marathon is going to be tough and I’m not as fit as I’d like to be right now but here’s the thing – afterwards, I can have a shower, I can put on warm clothes, I can have a hot meal and most importantly, I can go home to my comfy bed and sleep.

Not everyone has that.

I also want to raise awareness for the work the organisation does. In cities, I’ve seen people walk past homeless people like they don’t exist. They literally ignore them, and they pass judgement. They fail to understand that life is full of complications and that none of us really can ever be sure of what is around the corner. Fundraising aside, what does it take to stop and say hello to someone who might not have spoken to anyone all day? You might not have much money yourself but kindness is a currency that gratefully received anywhere.

 Had you heard about Emmaus before?

Yes, I used to live in London and was a regular visitor to one of the shops in West Norwood! I knew that every time I bought something there, the money was going straight back to the local community.

The Emmaus shops often sell really good quality vintage furniture which, for a lot of people like me who are buying their first homes, is great! You can often pick up pieces that you wouldn’t find anywhere else and it’s also helping reduce waste. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Do you have any connection to homelessness?

I don’t. I grew up in a relatively small town and it wasn’t until I visited my sister in Bristol that I saw any homeless people. I was probably about eight. I remember I was down by the harbour with my parents and I felt I wanted to do something to help – it really affected me and I spent my pocket money buying Mars Bars for the people there.

What are you most looking forward to about the day?

I’m looking forward to feeling part of something bigger – part of a group of people who are running for their very own reasons. We will be surrounded by people who believe that they have the power to make positive changes no matter how much they raise. And to be honest, I’m looking forward to a hot bath afterwards. Fizz, optional.

Was/is there anything you’re worried about?

Sometimes I can get a little bit claustrophobic in crowds, but I know the atmosphere will be lively and it’s not the sort of event where someone is going to run you over in their Nikes. I hope… of course, I’m nervous I’m not going to be fit enough in time, but my goal is simple – I want to finish so that I can hit my fundraising target. Even if the sweeper van is on my tail and I’m the last one to the finish line!

How are you training for the event?

By eating lots of cake? I joke (sort of). I’m just about to buy a new pair of trainers which will really help with the training. It sounds silly but if you look the part, you start to feel the part I feel. And when you are running, you need to make sure your feet are well supported.

We have a training plan in place that kicks in soon and we will start with smaller runs about three times a week, gradually increasing the distance and time. I don’t race. I’m not striving for a PB, I just want to enjoy it.

Have you done a similar event before?

Yes, I did the Birmingham Half Marathon a couple of years ago and got to see parts of the city I’d never seen before free of traffic. It was great. Some people had baked cakes and I grabbed a handful when I ran past. Children were lining the course doing high fives and I stopped to return them. And jelly babies, loads of people had jelly babies. I love food, can you tell?

What would be your one piece of advice for anyone that it interested in taking part in the Royal Parks half marathon, or similar events for Emmaus UK?

A half marathon doesn’t have to be a sprint, it can an enjoyable way to see a part of the city you’ve never seen before. Most of all, you will feel the buzz of being around other people who all want to help make the lives of others that bit better. And I promise you, you will feel powerful once you’ve completed your own challenge and proved to yourself that you can make a difference.