Last Sunday, a marathon veteran, a first time runner, a footballer, and Sylvester the cat all joined together to run the London Marathon to raise money for the charity Dreams Come True.
Steve Bull, James Pritchard, Alistair Musonzah and Adam Butler all committed to running the 26-mile route through London in order to raise funds for a charity that has long been close to their hearts. The atmosphere was electric, with a reported 750,000 people turning out to line the route, 10-deep in some places, shouting encouragement and giving sweets and water to the runners.
Softcat’s sales manager Bull, who finished the marathon in 3 hours and 42 minutes, has been supporting the charity since his first marathon in 1996. He has run 14 marathons since, at destinations as far-flung as New York and Canada. “The atmosphere was just amazing. Poignant of course, given what happened in Boston just a few days earlier, but upbeat,” he says.
“Everyone screams you on, it’s so encouraging – it keeps you going, especially for the last few miles. My wife Michelle came along to support me, I saw her three times around the course.”
Credit controller Adam Butler donned a Sylvester the cat outfit, which proved to be pretty warm once he started running – but he still finished the marathon, despite injuring his foot at mile 15. “With hindsight, a big furry costume might not have been the wisest choice for marathon attire, although it was cool hearing people shout encouragement to ‘Sylvester’. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My Mum and Uncle came and walked with me while I hobbled to the finish line on my good foot, still in my cat costume. You feel like you can’t go on, but with all that support welling up behind me, I just had to finish,” he explains.
Alistair Musonzah, Softcat’s networking and security consultant (pictured), completed the race in 4 hours 44 minutes and has only one regret: “I got beaten by a rhino. A guy in a huge rhino suit, he sped past me over the finish line. Gutted!”
He adds: “A marathon has always been on my bucket list, I’m so glad I did it, and in support of a fantastic charity that makes such a difference to the lives of terminally ill children. I hit a wall at the 17-mile mark but the crowd really pushed me on. My mates came along to support me but I didn’t see them – sorry guys! You see other people around you walking, or injured, or even passing out, and you just have to force yourself to keep going.”
It was purchasing manager James Pritchard’s first marathon, who admits: “I’m not a runner,” despite finishing the marathon in a respectable 4 hours 40 minutes.
“I love football, I play 3-4 times a week, but I’ve never really enjoyed running. But when you’re doing it for a charity like Dreams Come True, it really motivates you to train because you want to do well, and you know how much the money will mean to them, and what a difference you can make. It’s the largest amount I’ve ever raised for charity as part of a team. It was hard work, I’m not going to lie. You have to respect the race – it eats a lot of people up and spits them out. The crowd was brilliant though, handing out jelly babies to keep us going (I had more than my fair share.) Plus, I got to run alongside Amy Childs and her two bouncers!” (Editor’s note: No double entendre, there then!)
As a company, Softcat has long been involved in charity work. “It’s a core part of our company ethos,” says Softcat chairman, Martin Hellawell.
“Everyone gets behind every new charity initiative we do, which is astonishing really considering how many we do – almost every week there’s another cause to support. People always dig deep. It’s partly because we choose a different charity every year, which employees nominate themselves. It’s great being able to work with so many different people to support multiple causes. Much as I love our charity work, there is no chance you’ll see me running the marathon. I do question the sanity of our runners.”
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