How To Run for a Cause
For some it’s the winning, for many it’s the taking part but if you really want to make those running event miles count, do it for charity.
Take a race like our Triathlon or Half Marathon, they’re renowned for its demanding courses, peppered with steep inclines, tough terrain and unrivalled, undulating challenges – albeit amid the spectacular and dramatic landscape of the Saddleworth hills. And you can make events like these more gratifying than gruelling and the achievement even sweeter in the knowledge your sweat – hopefully without the blood and tears – is going great lengths to make a big difference to others.
Whether you’re a pro or new to the scene, running to raise funds for a worthy cause can be one of the most rewarding aspects of taking part. There also tends to be great camaraderie among charity runners on race day, heightening the emotion and helping to electrify the atmosphere to make it an unforgettable event which will inspire you to do it again!
Those who take up the charity gauntlet say it gives them an added drive, purpose and momentum throughout the race and elevates that personal sense of achievement on crossing the finishing line to one of immense pride and satisfaction.
And if you are new to the running game – and let’s face it even the seasoned runners have been known to groan at the thought of pounding the pavements and roads in the driving rain – it gives you an added incentive to train when the going gets tough. Once you’ve signed up, that charity/cause is relying on you and you can’t let them down – how’s that for motivation?
So how do you go about running for charity?
First, choose your charity
There are many reasons why people choose to run for charity. It could be something incredibly personal and close to the heart or it may be a desire to make a special difference to someone’s life, or contribute to a cause or campaign they are passionate about.
Whatever the driving force, not only do your efforts generate much needed funds for your chosen charity, they also raise valuable awareness. As soon as their name-emblazoned vest is on your chest you become your chosen charity’s ambassador and you’re helping them to spread their word.
Most organisations have plenty of information on the fundraising page of their websites about how to run and raise money on their behalf or you can contact them directly and inform them of your amazing intentions. They will usually offer to send you a fundraising pack and support you in any way they can.
Once you’re up-and-running – so to speak – it’s time to let family, friends and work colleagues know what you’re up to and how great it would be if they could support you by pledging a donation. You can also spread the word on social media and, if you set up an online donation page, post links via your Facebook and Twitter. You could even try contacting your local newspaper and media to ask if they’d be willing to run a story on your efforts to reach a wider audience and potentially boost donations. From sponsor forms to online donation pages there are a variety of ways to collate the cash donations. Moneysavingexpert.com recommends Wonderful.org which gives charities the full £12.50 from a £10 donation with Gift Aid but it’s still only a small site. MyDonate also comes top in their rankings and many still use JustGiving. Make sure your sponsors are aware of the option to pay via Gift Aid which allows charities to claim the tax back on their donations.
The ‘small issue’ of training
If you’re new to running events – or running in general – you definitely need to make sure you undertake a safe and manageable training regime. If you’re unsure or struggling it’s wise to pop along to your local leisure centre and ask for help and advice or join your local running group. Some of the bigger charities offer training plans and support so make sure you get in touch. Even smaller charities, while they may not have specific resources to help you train, they’ll always be appreciative and supportive of your decision to support them. Perhaps suggest sharing your charity link via their social media – it benefits them after all!
Race day arrives!
It’s time to hit the starting line and to be proud of what you’ve already achieved – even before the race. Not only have you embarked on a personal fitness journey but you’ve also vowed to do something to make a difference and potentially life-changing. Draw on all that intensive training and if you start to struggle, just think of what motivated your charitable efforts and throw a glance to your army of supporters who will be cheering you on all the way.