A record 249 runners, dubbed Muscle Warriors, strapped on their trainers and rustled up sponsorship and awareness for Muscle Dreams – once in a lifetime experiences for children with the muscle wasting disease muscular dystrophy.
The sun shone for the first time in weeks as Muscle Warriors predominantly from around Hertfordshire with some travelling from as far afield as London, competed in a 10km and 5km run across Haileybury’s glorious grounds, encompassing sweeping fields, wooded havens and even the odd bit of mud.
Pictured left, a group of six muscular dystrophy sufferers (aged between 15yrs and 20yrs) in powerchairs including the charity’s CEO Michael McGrath participated in a fast and furious 1k wheelchair race through the heart of the school’s stunning quadrangle. The race was won by 18 year old Gianluca Luisi from North London who suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), the most severe form as it is life-limiting. Additionally, the 1k torch bearer toddle proved a resounding success for many families and their little’uns.
Amid this elite band were a very special trio of inspirational torch bearers to help the charity celebrate the one week countdown to the Olympics – Philip Goodall of Buntingford, Debbie Evans of Winding Shott and Kate Malyon of Braintree led from the front with their treasured symbols of the London 2012 Games.
Away from the running, Essex-based activity group Ruggerbugs, the UK’s premier award winning sports development programme based around non-contact rugby for pre-school children was on hand to stage a mini Quintoddlathon style Olympics event for the assembled toddlers with certificates and stickers being handed out to over 25 children from across the counties of Hertfordshire and Essex. Events ranged from running, jumping and throwing, with enthusiastic parents joining in with the fun.
Other local businesses contributing to the day included Sainsbury’s in Hoddesdon who generously sponsored the water, Charlotte Gaynor the principal of Pressure Point Therapy & Fitness based in Welwyn Hatfield who was on hand to provide sports massages for weary legs, and family business I’m Famous Event Photography based in Essex, whose team snapped attendees with the Olympic Torch. Also present was Chris Swift, the founder of Molten Rock, an innovative company that produces a fully accessible off-road wheelchair known as the BOMA designed to be used across challenging terrains and used by people with a variety of physical disabilities.
Special thanks to the following sponsors: Cariad Marketing, Sage Ward Lettings, Well Run Sports, Herts Ready for Winners, Ashbourne Insurance, Lussmanns, TASS Enterprise, Hertford Cricket Club, Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI), The Red Rubber Ball Company and Fergus McMullen of McMullen & Sons.
Other in-kind support was provided by: Sainsbury’s in Hoddesdon, Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing Centre, Kimberley Mangelshot of eKuiLibriuM Wellbeing Studio, I’m Famous Event Photography, Molten Rock, Richard Bloom (Race Director), Steve Beeston Photography, Anna Clifford of Herts Reiki, Saracens Rugby Club for use of their official mascot (Sarrie) worn by Larry Mangelshot, Graeme Macpherson-Smith from Haileybury for producing our wooden eco-medals, Ware Joggers for the loan of their high-vis bibs, Will Ferguson for his keen photographic eye and last but by no means least … the talented Braughing resident Mr Steven Stone for entertaining the crowds with his vibrant commentary on the PA-system and for once again providing his Eyetunes Mobile Disco – thank you all.
The charity’s Chief Muscle Warrior Michael McGrath said: “The event was a tremendous success, both in terms of raising awareness of the charity’s work but also much needed funds so we can continue to deliver Muscle Dreams. On behalf of The Muscle Help Foundation, a huge thank you to over 40 volunteers who came along to help with the event – their commitment and energy at what was an early start on Sunday morning was phenomenal. As is so often the case, volunteers are the life-blood of events like this – in my eyes, they’re now all fully-fledged Muscle Warriors! A special note of thanks to Haileybury for once again allowing us to use their beautiful grounds. Bring on next year!”
Hertford based professional photographer Steve Beeston was the events official photographer. Photographs of the event are available, with runners and other participants able to purchase digital images and prints, with 20% of the cost going to the charity. Standard prints of 7″x5″ will be available for just £1, with 10″x8″ prints available for £5, with 20% going to the charity. A small £1.50 charge for home deliveries will be made. Optional mounts for enlargements can also be supplied – please call for more details or if you have any special requirements.