There is something special about Phoenix Running events ... first of all that they are in Walton-on-Thames and not Phoenix but more importantly in that they are a perfect representation about so much that is special about the running community.

Whether taking on one of their themed timed runs or the Firebird Marathon series, you are surrounded by such a diverse variety of people ranging from those doing their first marathon to others who did more than 200 last year! Some will make a three hour marathon look relatively simple whilst for others completing a half-marathon in that time is an incredible achievement. This is what makes running so very special; we share special moments with people, but the achievements are very personal.

At Phoenix, there is the added bonus of continually having the opportunity to run alongside others at so many parts of the race due to the lap format. It is a microcosm of the running journey in its entirety; in the space of thirty seconds on Wednesday, I ran past someone who had run around 12 miles and another who had run 25 - at that particular point, I had run 24. The numbers are unimportant, it is the shared camaraderie and encouragement, of knowing that the effort is no less and the achievement equally special.

This is why the Phoenix Breakfast Race was the perfect place to kick-off my 2017 fundraising and running campaign, eight loops of scenic Thames towpath and trail among friends, on what turned out to be a very pleasant and mild morning. On a personal level, it was a good run, felt relaxed and run pretty much within myself throughout, so a time of 3:16:00 was highly satisfactory.

As always, it was great to see some of the usual suspects as well as meeting some new faces, not least those from Alfie's Striders, the name of whom was engraved into the spectacular medals.

These events so perfectly emphasise what I look for in events, and essentially that is the opportunity to support others. It is too easy to forget that only 4 years ago almost to the day, I was close to 19 stone and unable to run a bath let alone a marathon. I remember my first painful 10k in closer to 70 than 60 minutes which was in May 2013, really not a long time ago. I'm obviously proud of now being a marathon runner with a PB of 3:00:23 but my greatest enjoyment is in encouraging others in their own journey, so while I do have personal goals for 2017, the true purpose is to enjoy the year among other runners and hope to incite joy in running and a real confidence to breaking down personal barriers.

And that's it for now ... well for a few weeks anyway!! The next race of the year is the Humanity Direct Amersham Ultra (50km) on 11 March, which will be my first venture above marathon distance.  

The photo above shows me proudly parading the monster of a medal (monster by size not appearance!) and wearing, for the first time, my Connection at St Martin's vest. Thanks for the continued support and encouragement. There are upcoming updates around my continued suicide awareness work, a couple of great days with the inspirational runners from the Mind London and Brighton Marathon teams, and the recent feature in Runners World.

Running for my Life
Running, by faith and with endurance, from mental illness to marathon runner, charity campaigner, and brother in Christ

Up and Running: Phoenix Breakfast Race