Thursday, 8 August 2013

Médecins Sans Frontières

Back in May I wrote about the loveliness of the Macclesfield Canal, and how I was planning on running its length to raise a bit of money to contribute to its support and maintenance.

However, I've changed my mind. Not about the loveliness of the canal (indeed, I'm now familiar with 25 of its 27 miles, and if there's a finer, more picturesque stretch of inland man-made waterway in the UK I'd be surprised and impressed), nor indeed about the fact I'm going to run its length (training for which is going very nicely). What I've changed my mind about is the choice of charity for which I'm going to beg funds off you, dear reader, and others besides.

So why have I changed my choice? Well, a few reasons. First, it was always going to be a bit of a parochial exercise, asking people to give money to something that benefits the denizens of Cheshire, who aren't, let's face it, a particularly deprived bunch of folk in the first place. I'd planned to get round that by just asking for a pound, but I can do that too with the new enterprise. Second, the Canal & River Trust, that looks after the Macc Canal, whilst nominally and officially a charity, actually receives a fixed grant from DEFRA, and is, you could argue, therefore more an arm of government activity than a body that's genuinely reliant on public donations. (In fact, one of the great unremarked-upon scandals of the 21st century, as I may have mentioned before, is the number of charities that actually receive the bulk of their funding from central and local government. In my view, no 'charity' should have the right to call itself such if less than 50% of its income is raised by private and corporate donation). Third, I've decided to raise money for a cause in which I have no current interest, nor am I likely to in the future. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with people raising money for causes that are close to their heart, or which they think they might benefit from in the future - quite the opposite in fact, as I suspect many charities' income would be much smaller if that didn't happen - but I want to do something in which I have no personal stake whatever. And to underline my commitment to that, not only will I do the run, but I'll also match the funds of anything my sponsors chuck into the pot.

I will, therefore, be running for Médecins Sans Frontières you won't be surprised to learn, given the title of this post. I'm not going to extol their many virtues here, but I do urge you to look here:  Independent, neutral, impartial medical assistance, to the people in the world who need it the most. Only without the moralising and campaigning of people like Oxfam, who, in my humble opinion, have got much too big for their metaphorical boots. I pick on them in particular because the last time I raised a three figure sum for them they couldn't even be bothered to acknowledge the cheque, let alone thank me. However, you shouldn't tar them all with the same brush, hence....

Even more important than the last web address is this one:, for it's here you can donate. Please do, and please do so knowing that neither I nor anyone else is going to make any judgement about the amount you give. It's one of the great conundrums of the modern age when someone asks for sponsorship - "do I ignore it? If not, how much should I give? Will people think I'm tight if I only give, say, £2?" I say - don't worry about it. I have no target, whatever my website might say. There's no minimum I have to raise as part of a set event. Anything MSF get as a result of this is, as far as I'm concerned, a bonus for them. So if you want to give them £1, please do. It's one more than they'd have had otherwise.

So unless a) any of my bodily bits hurt more than they usually do as I up training volumes and distances over the next couple of weeks or b) we get an unseasonal deluge that makes the towpath impassable, I'm aiming to run from Marple to Kidsgrove on Saturday 31st August. That will be a mere 7 weeks of training to go from zero running to more than marathon distance - a foolhardy venture some might say, and I suspect I'll be agreeing with them somewhere round Congleton on the day itself. Whatever, we do these things. I've given myself an added incentive now to do the training as I've entered a 10km race on 15th September, in which I aim to run a sub-50 minute time and get top 10 for the 45-50 age group. It's very dangerous, making public those kind of ambitions, but if it doesn't work out, I'll just not mention it again, ok?

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