Run4NHS: My 999 Challenge

My name’s Geoff Halliday, and I’ve given myself a challenge – run 9 marathons, 9 half marathons and 9 10K races in the space of a year, with the aim of raising awareness of NHS privatisation. My first race was the Huddersfield Half Marathon on 27th April 2014; my last will be a marathon on 26th April 2015 (London if I get through the ballot, or a return to the location of my first ever marathon, Blackpool, if I don’t).

It’s all inspired by the Darlo mums’ 999 Call for the NHS, and their recreation of the Jarrow Crusade. Nye Bevan said, “The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it”. Well this is my part of the fight; my duty. The survivors of two world wars made this nation truly great by building the NHS and Welfare State. Both now are under threat, and we owe it to them and to future generations to protect their legacy.

So far I’ve completed 5 10Ks, 2 half marathons and 3 marathons, and should have done 6 of each by the close of 2014. I know that whilst this will sound like quite a challenge to many folks, it’s nothing compared to challenges other folks have embarked upon. And the biggest challenge is actually raising awareness, which is something I’ve been a bit slow at so far. There’s a Facebook page, my T shirts and that’s about it so far. Part of the reason is life getting in the way, but more of an issue has been lack of confidence. Firstly, there’s the fear of injury. I had a bad back through much of 2013, and wasn’t fully sure I’d recovered. And secondly there’s the thought that until I’m part way through, it’s just words, especially as most of my early races were 10Ks.

And so it’s time to tweet (something I’ve only vaguely flirted with in the past); it’s time to start this blog; it’s time to get a running T shirt printed with a few more details on; it’s time to contact some newspapers; it’s time to get back on the Runners’ World forum; it’s time to try and raise awareness through organisations and campaigns that seek to protect our NHS; and it’s time to get some leaflets sorted for the (BUPA sponsored!) Great Yorkshire 10K this Sunday.

One thing I’d love to do is to encourage other runners to wear NHS tops in races, whether People’s March, Keep Our NHS Public, other pro-NHS group, or one that you’ve got printed yourself. And actually, let’s all of us be wearing them whenever we can in our day-to-day. And let’s be thinking of ways that we can keep raising awareness of what is happening to our NHS, and how much we love it.

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