LLNI

‘You can count the number of seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the number of apples in a seed.’

This blog reproduces an interview in the January 2017 edition of The Methodist Newsletter with Anne Hailes.

Anne blogs regularly on life, media & NI culture here.

When I read Anne's piece before it went to press, it was a delightful surprise to discover that Anne actually knows the man whose support triggered this #TimPageFitForLife project.


 

 

“In summer 2013, we were planning a five-year survival bar-be-cue.  

Unfortunately, one month short of this cancer-free milestone, I was more seriously ill than ever before – tumours through my body, jaundiced, unable to sleep & hallucinating.  

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma was back with a vengeance.”

Tim acknowledges that we all face challenges yet he has had more than his share.  Despite this he is an example of a man who just keeps on being positive and depending on his faith and the doctors to get through.  He has been treated for aggressive blood cancer four times since September 1984, when, as a 20-year-old BT placement student, he had a routine chest X-ray.  

“Within hours, I was in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  Five months of chemotherapy and a month of radiotherapy followed.  The treatment was severe, my dad was dying at the same time and, some days, I felt the bottom had fallen out of my world.”

On one of those days he had to escape the demons in his head and he turned to John Frost, his old headmaster at Sullivan Upper School in Holywood. 

“I landed at Mr. Frost’s front door and he immediately recognised a level of distress beyond words, I just broke down, I couldn’t say anything.  He and Mrs. Frost sat me down with a cup of tea.  I thought ‘my cup runneth over’ – a cup of tea goes a long way to help!  The Frosts showed me kindness and understanding.”

Tim was getting back into the swing of life when he was dealt another blow. Two years later he was told the cancer had returned and what should have been a red-letter day turned into anything but.   

“I’d just completed computing science at the Ulster Polytechnic as it was then.   On the same day I was told the cancer is back, the job offer I’d been promised was withdrawn because of my health problems.   The world fell apart.  The most helpful person was an atheist friend who said

"You've got to look at it this way, Tim.  As one door closes another one shuts!"

I actually derived lots of laughter at that.”  

But it wasn’t over.  May 2008 brought the shock news that a large lump in his neck was due to aggressive Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  Blood cancer treatment had progressed dramatically which meant chemotherapy could be administered as an outpatient and it killed the cancer in 12 weeks.  

However, Tim, his wife Ruth and twin sons Downey and Chris, then 19 years of age, were to be tested again.  In summer 2013, the family were planning a five-year survival bar-be-cue, when one month short of this cancer-free milestone, Tim became more seriously ill than ever with tumours throughout his body, jaundiced, hallucinating and unable to sleep. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma was back with a vengeance.   

Family
The Page family

“I was close to death and there were groans beyond words going Heavenwards about myself and my family; there’s a comforting aspect as God can draw near and hear but there’s also the Psalmist’s spirituality of lament and Jesus saying ‘Let this cup pass from me’.  I think a big thing for me is to know that you can shout at God and cry and sometimes just whinge because we are His little children.”

It was their 'Year of Hell', in hospital for five months, with a 50/50 chance of survival, he was planning his 50th birthday party and funeral service at the same time.  

Thankfully, it was the birthday party that people ended up attending!

“Since then my motto is,

If there’s something in life to celebrate, then celebrate

because there’s enough difficult stuff going on.  A couple of months ago, I appreciated walking down the road and looking at one falling leaf as it fell to the ground.  As well as the challenges of work, paying the mortgage, there are moments of beauty all around.”   

As he regained fitness this special man turned to running.  He uses it to release stress, get fresh air, keep endorphins flowing, for company or solitude. 

“Sometimes I’m thinking about everyday life and pressures, other times it’s a time of internal reflection, zoning out at a spiritual level.  There’s a phrase that I love in the hymn Dear Lord and Father of Mankind

'The Silence of Eternity'

Something of this can happen when I’m running or on a retreat, an experience that I don’t understand but one that I treasure. 

At work a couple of days ago, a Director asked me how I was, I think he was surprised with my answer.  I told him - I’m alive, I have a family and they are well, I’m mobile, I have a sane mind, I’m doing work that matters, I look back at the running project that succeeded so I’m grateful for every day.” Having been in hospital six months, seven pumps keeping him going, being in isolation and not being able to move out of bed it might be surprising that, in September three years later, walking into work to lead the stem cell Donor Drive with Ruth, he told God he had no complaints about his journey.  

“I am thankful to be alive today; you know, you can maybe understand life looking backwards but you have to live it looking forwards, in the moment we don’t see the big picture.  I did despair at times, not surprising when your blood count and your energy is low and the doctor says it’s 50/50 so you're writing your funeral service and you feel awful; then you realise despair is OK, it’s not the final word and it doesn’t apply to your whole life.  I thought about my sons and my wife, their concern and what would they do without me being there.  When you’re a young man in your early 20s it’s rough but probably you don’t have dependents, when you do have loved ones who are dependent then that’s a different level of concern.”

During these toughest of months, Tim says he gained an acute appreciation of the precariousness and preciousness of life.  He came to see profound significance in small acts of kindness, for example the offer of midnight tea, hot toast and a chat with one of the exceptional nursing assistants.  He also had a renewed appreciation of research and was determined to do something practical to help. He knows that prayer is important but the drugs and the treatments are just as essential, as he says God is present in all things including research.

Along with this renewed sense of positivity came a sense of responsibility to build his fitness. So, he now has a personal trainer and attends the gym every week and is training to be a coaching psychologist.

“Early last year I discovered parkrun where, every Saturday morning, in 24 public parks across NI, people come along to do a timed run.  I ran my first parkrun at Victoria Park last November, finishing in 162nd place out of 162!  I found myself overwhelmed by uncontainable emotion on achieving an objective that would have seemed unimaginable when I was ill.  82-year-old Gerry Ward was the sole remaining volunteer waiting for this straggler.  Looking back, I now see that his presence, encouragement and positive words were the key link in the chain that led to a seven month ‘#TimPageFitForLife’ running project.”

Gerry and Tim
Tim with Gerry Ward, Victoria parkrun Volunteer

Gerry Ward remembers that day too.  “We were just clearing up the finish area after the run and I became aware of this chap sitting and to all appearances crying. I toddled over to ask if he was ok thinking he might have fallen during the run but in the course of conversation I found out that the tears originated from his satisfaction of completing the run. He indicated that during his periods of therapy his main ambition, when fit enough, was to undertake the 5k run.  You talk about uncontainable – well, I certainly felt similar after my chat with him and to some extent felt a bit inferior.   I’m fortunate in so many ways to be an integral part of the core volunteer group of our Saturday run, made all the more special by people like Tim who inspires all around him.”

Within months the objectives of this project were in place.  To run all the Northern Ireland parkruns in aid of Lymphoma and Leukaemia NI at Queen’s University.  He has raised £15,253 for LLNI and signed up 197 prospective stem cell donors with charity DKMS.  He’s proud that lives will be saved in years ahead when someone receives a stem cell donation.  

 

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2016-12-23/9160afce-182b-4458-b77f-db27de357d19.png
BT colleagues at Tim's final run, 24-Sep-2016, 32 years to the day after he first went into hospital

Tim himself has increased his fitness getting through all the runs, bringing down his time from 40 minutes to under 35 minute and, he laughs, even when running in the rain the sense of achievement is great.

But it’s not only fundraising, spreading the word about blood cancer and treatment is vitally important to this brave man.  He has published six video interviews about blood cancer treatment, research and the important role of fitness in staying well: “And thank God I am fitter and stronger than I’ve ever been.” 

He’s surprised and thankful for the sheer goodwill of so many people in funding his project and giving their support.  Indeed, Tim is clear that ‘through the years, the support received along the journey from Ruth, family, friends, colleagues, professionals and so many others has helped get me through.’

“On the way back from Cookstown parkrun, I had a conversation with a friend David Quinney Mee.  His daughter, Lucia, had just been on Radio Ulster promoting organ donation. Lucia, age 17, has had three liver transplants, and great success at the UK Transplant Games.  David said to me:

‘You can count the number of seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the number of apples in a seed.’

In other words, in the great scheme of things, never discount the power of the small to inspire, to sustain and to give hope, whether it’s planting a tree, sharing five loaves and two fishes or encouraging someone struggling in their own race through your words, your support and your presence.”

More information at

www.timpagefitforlife.com
www.leukaemiaandlymphomani.org 


First published in Methodist Newsletter, January 2017 edition


BT Belfast Engineering Centre - presentation to Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI

A milestone today for the #TimPageFitForLife project...

BT colleagues presented the amount raised through 2016 - £3800 - to the LLNI team's Professor Ken Mills, Joanne Badger and LLNI's recently announced new Chairman Richard Buchanan.

BT amount

Then, the BFSEC organising committee kindly held a raffle this evening, raising a further £793 for LLNI - a total of £4,593 from BT colleagues.

This makes a grand total to date (including RQIA support, Linda Bell's coffee morning and the overall 310 donations) of £14,593.

As part of the BFSEC review of the year, BT's Cathal O'Neill prepared a montage of the 22 runs, with a great sound track.  

Enjoy!

 


Stormont - 24 Sep - 22 of 22

So, the day arrived - 24th September 2016.

A-big-date

Driving to the 22nd of Northern Ireland's 22 current parkruns (several new venues are in the pipeline) it was great to have both of our sons along for the morning, the first time we'd all been together on a Saturday morning for some time.

B-family B-family-2There was a big turnout from BT, over 30 work colleagues, with 9 running their first parkrun.

B3

Through the week, rain was forecast for Saturday and, with parts of Northern Ireland experiencing stormy winds, I received several texts on Friday checking if all was ok to proceed.

On Friday night, Magda Bernatek, who I'd met at Stormont when we volunteered in March, messaged this motivating video - "Running in the Rain"

H-Run-In-The-Rain

"So is it just a run in the rain?  You tell me."

While there was some drizzle as we arrived at Stormont, I was clear that, Nope, this was not just a run in the rain but, rather, a culmination of multiple threads running over different timescales.

D-Culmination

First, and fundamentally, running Stormont represented the completion of my first objective:

"Run all 22 NI parkruns"

At Queens parkrun, I had met Linda Harley Gillespie, first woman to run all 22 NI parkruns.  That day, Linda showed me her hand-crafted #I'verunallthenornirnparkrunssoIhave T-shirt and promised to present me with my own at my final run.  True to her word, she did.  

Thanks to Linda for parkrunner insights, presence and encouragement along the way.

F-exemplar-Linda

Second, there has been a relational aspect to this project that I never foresaw.  

Ruth and I did not cross this project's finish line alone.  Rather, through the planning & travelling & running & occasional injury & breakfasts & stories shared, we crossed the finish line, and cut the celebration cake, connected with a wider network of people than when we started.

Patricia McAuley and Heather Chestnutt have supported from beginning to end - we appreciate their presence, humour and stickability.

E-stalwart-supporters

Third, getting to Stormont confirmed how far I've come in three years.  Laura Croan, whose interview on benefits of exercise for patients has had 2330 views to date, was one of the nursing team when I was ill in 2013.  In recent months, it's been great to work with Laura and others to promote awareness.  Three years ago, getting to this day would have been unimaginable and laughable.  But here we were.

(Links to all of the interviews are in this post containing the final interview, with Dr. Kyle Matchett)

G-different-world

Finally, 24 September 2016 was a milestone on a longer journey.  On 24 September 1984, I went into hospital with Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  At that time, a great friend Roger Brown was studying medicine at Queen's University Belfast.  Roger 'showed up' for me and my family at that very difficult time - my dad was dying and I was ill.

Recently returned to Coleraine from Scotland he continues his GP work, and it's been great to reconnect.  As we walked up to the pre-run briefing, we swapped thoughts on years past and the run ahead.

H-Roger

Run Director Mel Boyle, giving the parkrun briefing, asked me to introduce #TimPageFitForLife.  Son Downey had asked me that morning "What are you going to say?"  I hadn't thought about it until then, but I was ready with a few (very few, as directed by Ruth!) words on my story and project progress.

I-a

I-what-will-you-say 

Soon, we were running, and what a great set of people I got to run with - family, friends, colleagues and specific guidance from both my Fitness Trainer of 18 months, EXSTO's Michael McAuley, and Parkrun Jim himself.

I had run the course earlier in the week with Sarah Williamson, taking about 38 minutes.  It was good to have already navigated the bends, and to know to be careful under the trees where the odd twig might just be waiting to trip you up.

J-running

I was mindful of my Personal Best to date of 35:10 (Derry), although experienced runners Sarah Williamson & Mark Crothers had separately advised me to enjoy the day... there would be many other days to focus on time performance.  

My time at Stormont was 35:14 and, for whatever reason (hills?, drizzle?, emotion? - maybe all of the above) I found the 2nd lap of the course tougher than expected.

K-water

L-finish

The encouragement from co-runners and cheers at the finish line were powerful stuff.  

And a big "Thank You" to the Stormont Hotel for kindly supplying tea and coffee on the day - much appreciated by runners and supporters.

  M-cake

  N-photocall

O-finish

I'd invited political representatives from across the spectrum to come along.  NI Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir ran and was then very encouraging during my last few hundred metres.  Active on social media, he tweeted a video at the finish.

Good friend David Robinson took some great photos of the day, strategically located at a choice spot with his high-tech camera.  I like this photo because it presents a backdrop wide enough to contain the different threads coming together in my head and heart, experiencing both personal challenge and stirring support at the same time.

P-Was-it-just-a-run-in-the-rain

One further reflection.  Over a year ago, I bumped into a nurse who had cared for me in (the long-since demolished) Ward 22 Haematology, Royal Victoria Hospital, during my mid-80's rough chemo days, before research sorted out effective anti-emetic drugs.  

She said:

"I remember you, Tim, in Ward 22 - there were 23 patients - everyone died, except you."

I have been pondering these words before, during and after my run at Stormont this 24th of September, 32 years of life later.

Yes, last Saturday was about more than "A run in the rain".

I suppose those things include

  • Completing a project doing its bit to fight a <insert expletive> horrible disease
  • Honouring people who have a habit of showing up for other people when the going gets tough
  • Celebrating life, ever mindful that we are given the awesome freedom to make the most of that gift

 

The Stormont photo album is here , or here on Facebook.

 

So - what's next?

  • Enjoy a late summer holiday - we're currently enjoying Vancouver, the best city in the world
  • Write a few more blog posts re September's LLNI #ImStill launch and our BT Riverside DKMS Donor Drive
  • Run two or three new NI parkruns before the project formally closes on 24-December
  • Continue regular parkrunning & volunteering
  • Run my first 10k
  • Start conditioning prep for my next running challenge

Thank you for your interest and support.

The donation site for Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI remains open until 24-December 2016 - here.

Best thoughts,

Tim

 

Project Objectives

Raised for Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI: £13,760

Raised for DKMS (formerly Delete Blood Cancer): £650

People registered with DKMS as prospective donors: 197

People who have signed up with parkrun: 37

Tim's Running Progress

#

Date

Course

Age Grade

1

19 Mar

Belfast Victoria

41.2%

2

26 Mar

Belfast Waterworks

40.4%

3

16 Apr

Bangor Ward Park

35.53%

4

23 Apr

Portrush

37.12%

5

7 May

Queens

39.26%

6

14 May

Enniskillen

38.13%

7

21 May

Comber

39.50%

8

28 May

Limavady

41.97%

9

4 June

Valley

38.37%

10

11 June

Wallace

39.83%

11

18 June

Ormeau

42.55%

12

25 June

Antrim

39.80%

13

2 July

Carrickfergus

35.21%

14

9 July

Citypark Craigavon

34.48%

15

30 July

Armagh

37.12%

16

6 Aug

MUSA Cookstown

39.48%

17

13 Aug

Colin Glen

35.93%

18

20 Aug

Falls

37.88%

19

27 Aug

Derry City

42.61%

20

3 Sep

Ecos

38.88%

21

10 Sep

Larne

34.04%

22

24 Sep

Stormont

42.53%


#TimPageFitForLife Interview VI - Dr. Kyle Matchett - Drug Repurposing

"In the future, we'll see a lot more of these re-purposed drugs coming into the clinic."

  ~ Dr. Kyle Matchett

This final #TimPageFitForLife interview is with Kyle Matchett.

Dr, Matchett's work as Research Fellow at the Centre for Cancer Research & Cell Biology at Queens University Belfast is funded by LLNI.

The QUB research portal gives details of Kyle's activities and his Twitter feed is here.

Thanks to Kyle for explaining his work on drug re-purposing and, once again, thank you to Joanne Badger on camera.

To support Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI's researchers' vital research, the BTmydonate site (0% commission) is here

In case you missed them, all of the earlier interviews are listed here: 

  • Dr. Mary Drake, Consultant Haematologist - Overview of Blood Cancers
  • Laura Croan, Clinical Nurse Specialist - Physical Fitness for Patients
  • Mike McAuley, Fitness Trainer - Benefits of Physical Fitness
  • Andy Magowan - Exsto Gym - Benefits of Sports Massage
  • Prof. Ken Mills, Chair of Experimental Haematology, The Importance of Research

#TimPageFitForLife Interview V - Prof. Ken Mills - Importance of Research

"Without your support we couldn't do our valuable research."

  ~ Professor Ken Mills

This fifth #TimPageFitForLife interview is with Ken Mills.

Professor Mills is Chair of Experimental Haematology with the Centre for Cancer Research & Cell Biology at Queens University Belfast.

The QUB research portal gives details of Professor Mills' activities, including a substantial list of research papers.

Thanks to Ken for making time for this interview and, also, to Joanne Badger on camera! 

In addition to leading research, Ken has kindly made time to support our fund- and awareness-raising work, including the Bake Sale and initial DKMS Donor Drive in BT Riverside Tower.  

Ken Mills at BT

If you would like to donate to LLNI, the BTmydonate site is here

In case you missed them, previous interviews were with

  • Dr. Mary Drake, Consultant Haematologist - Overview of Blood Cancers
  • Laura Croan, Clinical Nurse Specialist - Physical Fitness for Patients
  • Mike McAuley, Fitness Trainer - Benefits of Physical Fitness
  • Andy Magowan - Exsto Gym - Benefits of Sports Massage

The final interview will be posted shortly:

  • Dr. Kyle Matchett - LLNI - repurposing of drugs

#TimPageFitForLife Interview I, Dr. Mary Drake - An Overview of Blood Cancers

In this, the first #TimPageFitForLife video interview, I interview Dr. Mary Drake, Consultant Haematologist at Belfast City Hospital.

Dr. Drake explains the main types of blood cancer - leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma - and describes progress in treatment.

Dr. Drake speaks of the sense of community in Northern Ireland, and how local charities Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI & Friends of the Cancer Centre make a difference to her working life every day.

If you would like to donate to LLNI, the BTmydonate site is here

In the next interview, Laura Croan, Clinical Nurse Specialist for Lymphoma, explains the role of fitness for patients.


Larne - 10 Sep - 21 of 22

With only Stormont to go, Larne parkun may prove to be the day with the bluest sky - a glorious drive up from Holywood, and a great day for the first Larne 10k event.  I will aim to do this next year.

Larne-AB

Chris McGonagle gets the prize for furthest-travelled supporter.  Chris, formerly a BT colleague, has been encouraging me from Austin USA for months.  Back home in Banbridge for a few days, Chris drove to Larne to run his first parkrun.  I really appreciated Chris' presence - it was good to swap notes on running, IT, recovery from injury and resilience.  We were pleased to meet up with Phil McIlwrath and Rosy Ryan so soon after Rosy's Lagan10k run last week for Pancreatic Cancer UK.  And great to see regular co-runner Heather Chestnutt again.

Larne-D

Dom Dorris, Run Director, gave a warm welcome to everyone, introducing Larne as one of the tougher parkruns.  I like quotes, and, talking about the hills at Carnfunnock Park, something Dom said rang true:

"The hills are your friend."

 ~ Dom Dorris

For me, this relates to another philosopher's quote which can be true.  Sometimes.

Larne-G

The run was certainly tough, at 44:01 one of my slowest.  I put this down to the repeated circuits up the hills... however, after the race, Dom explained that the heat of the day is not necessarily the runner's friend, and I can see this is true.  Photos from the day show a lot of perspiration on a lot of people!  Great to have BT colleagues Mark Crothers, Michael Fulton, John Kelly and Laurence O'Hagan running alongside. 

Larne-P

And so, at last, I got to meet Gillian Craig, regular runner at Larne parkrun.  Gillian has an enviable PB of 31:27, and her story, including aspects of living with cerebral palsy, was recently on the parkrun weekly newsletter.  Thanks to Gillian for encouragement and support.

"Because of parkrun, and in particular the volunteers at Larne parkrun, I don’t just watch sport from the sidelines anymore. I take part. And I don’t just cheer. I get cheered on. From my family and from the bottom of my heart, I can’t thank the parkrun community enough for your support and encouragement."

~ Gillian Craig

Larne-V

Many Larne volunteers had to leave on time for the Larne 10k, but Ruth was still able to secure a very upbeat photo!

Larne-W

After tea and biscuits in the Sea Cadets' Hall, we drove up the hill to the Parklands Cafe for coffee with Rosy & Phil and David & Fiona Robinson.  On a day as good as this, this was a great place to enjoy the view.

Larne-Y

Larne photo album is here.

And now, one single parkrun remaining - Stormont on 24 September, the 32nd year to the day that, as BT Industrial Placement student, I went into Ward 22, Belfast Royal Victoria Hospital very ill with Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Before then, it's a full week for #TimPageFitForLife:

Tuesday, in BT Riverside, there's a DKMS stem cell Donor Drive, hoping to reach our target of 100 prospective donors

On Friday, we attend the launch of LLNI's #ImStill campaign

And - keep an eye open for a series of six video interviews with people from the domains of medicine, fitness training and LLNI's research.

Come along to Stormont parkrunon the 24th if you can.

"The hills are your friend."

Tim

Project Objectives

Raised for Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI: £11,846

Raised for DKMS (formerly Delete Blood Cancer): £600

People registered with DKMS as prospective donors: 62

People who have signed up with parkrun: 27

Tim's Running Progress

#

Date

Course

Age Grade

1

19 Mar

Belfast Victoria

41.2%

2

26 Mar

Belfast Waterworks

40.4%

3

16 Apr

Bangor Ward Park

35.53%

4

23 Apr

Portrush

37.12%

5

7 May

Queens

39.26%

6

14 May

Enniskillen

38.13%

7

21 May

Comber

39.50%

8

28 May

Limavady

41.97%

9

4 June

Valley

38.37%

10

11 June

Wallace

39.83%

11

18 June

Ormeau

42.55%

12

25 June

Antrim

39.80%

13

2 July

Carrickfergus

35.21%

14

9 July

Citypark Craigavon

34.48%

15

30 July

Armagh

37.12%

16

6 Aug

MUSA Cookstown

39.48%

17

13 Aug

Colin Glen

35.93%

18

20 Aug

Falls

37.88%

19

27 Aug

Derry City

42.61%

20

3 Sep

Ecos

38.88%

21

10 Sep

Larne

34.04%


Inspiring Rosy runs Lagan10k for Pancreatic Cancer UK

"My feet are light, my legs are strong, I can keep this pace all day long!"
~ Rosy Ryan

At Waterworks - the 2nd of my 22 parkruns for Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI - I met Rosy Ryan.  Waterworks is a great open course. The day we were there, though, it rained a lot and I found it tough going.

Rosy ran with me that day and I deeply appreciated her encouraging mantra, even if I didn't have much spare breath to join in!

I spotted that Rosy was taking part in today's Laganside 10k organised by North Belfast Harriers; Ruth and I thought we'd go along to greet Rosy and Phil at the finish line.  Also with Rosy - Andrea Kearns from Pancreatic Cancer UK.

Rosy Phil

Rosy

As we waited, it was great to see lots of people from NI's running community who we've met over the past 6 months. Northern Ireland really does have a great running community. It was also good to catch up with Matt Shields and parkrun news.

Runners

Rosy kindly agreed to a brief video interview.

Thanks to Rosy for encouragement and, really, inspiration - those words from Waterworks have often been in my head over these months.  A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is a tough enough road.

Rosy's JustGiving page is here.  Rosy mentions Jog Belfast - link here.


Ecos - 4 Sep - 20 of 22

The forecast was 'heavy rain', so we headed to Ballymena as prepared as possible.  It seems the Ecos Centre is undergoing some renovation, but the surrounding parkland is absolutely worth a visit.

Ecos-V

Ecos has a friendly set of volunteers, with a well-organised setting up in progress as we arrived - signage, road cones, sheltered area for tea/coffee and ample biscuits.  Run Director Alastair Donaghy gave everyone a warm welcome, 

Ecos-B

Before the run, Peter Hamilton introduced himself - another runner who has already run Northern Ireland's 22 parkruns.  Peter had just run his 150th parkrun the previous week - congrats!  Ecos Ballymena is his favourite parkrun.

Ecos-A8

For Ecos, son Chris and fellow Corrymeela member David Mark ran with me.  It's another great parkrun course, organised as a two-loop figure-of-8.  The archway of trees at one stretch of the run was beautiful - sorry, didn't get a photo.

Ecos-P

Ruth has been able to come along to all of the parkruns, except Limavady.  As everyone heads into the distance, Ruth generally takes the opportunity to capture something of each course's scenery before the runners return - like this photo of a wild flowers garden.

Ecos-J

parkrun has various types of volunteer, including Guided Runners, who can run alongside people who are blind or visually impaired and their Guide Dog.  Before the run, we briefly met Torie Tennant and her Guide Dog.  Later, we finished the run close together.  Thanks to Torie for her encouragement and support.

Ecos-T

Before leaving we got to speak with Susanna and Matthew Allen.  After encountering parkrun for the first time, Susanna thought the whole experience - running and sense of community - was so good that she worked with people to set up Ecos parkrun over four years ago.   

Ecos-A9A

The Ecos sense of community was certainly alive and well on Saturday.  As Matthew said 

"The last person over the line gets as much support as the first person over the line."

And the running performance at Ecos was absolutely evidenced by the first person over the line.  Peter Avent, visiting from Edinburgh, smashed the Ecos record by 22 secs, down to 15:26.

Ecos-T1

Ecos photo album is here.

Two to go! ... Larne and, finally, Stormont 24-September.

Very best wishes,
Tim

Project Objectives

Raised for Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI: £11,639

Raised for DKMS (formerly Delete Blood Cancer): £600

People registered with DKMS as prospective donors: 62

People who have signed up with parkrun: 25

Tim's Running Progress

#

Date

Course

Age Grade

1

19 Mar

Belfast Victoria

41.2%

2

26 Mar

Belfast Waterworks

40.4%

3

16 Apr

Bangor Ward Park

35.53%

4

23 Apr

Portrush

37.12%

5

7 May

Queens

39.26%

6

14 May

Enniskillen

38.13%

7

21 May

Comber

39.50%

8

28 May

Limavady

41.97%

9

4 June

Valley

38.37%

10

11 June

Wallace

39.83%

11

18 June

Ormeau

42.55%

12

25 June

Antrim

39.80%

13

2 July

Carrickfergus

35.21%

14

9 July

Citypark Craigavon

34.48%

15

30 July

Armagh

37.12%

16

6 Aug

MUSA Cookstown

39.48%

17

13 Aug

Colin Glen

35.93%

18

20 Aug

Falls

37.88%

19

27 Aug

Derry City

42.61%

20

3 Sep

Ecos

38.88%


Derry City - 27 Aug - 19 of 22

We headed up to Derry on the Friday, staying in the friendly White Horse Hotel.  It was a beautiful evening, so before a good meal in Fitzroys we walked the course.

Derry-X5

On Saturday, we arrived at the busy starting point at 9, with time for some more photos as well as warm-up.

Derry-C

Run Director Gerard Harkin gave everyone a warm welcome, emphasising the need to give way to the (many) pedestrians, cyclists and other runners that were about.

Derry-D

Colleagues Riona and Nate from BT accompanied me, and was also good to see Riona's family and friends.

Derry-K

Before the run, I met Fidelma Hodgkinson.  Fidelma had an allogenic stem cell transplant in 2002 - her sister was donor.  It was helpful for Ruth and me to hear Fidelma say, 14 years post-transplant,

"I haven't looked back"

Swapping notes with someone who has journeyed further down the road can be an encouragement.

Derry City was a beautiful run.  At half-way, you run around a statue (which was wearing a parkrun jersey!) and head back the way you came.  Many runners on the return leg encouraged people still making their way to the half-way point.  One advantage of the Derry course is the clear visibility of the whole course - you know how much further you still have to go.  

Kerrie McIlmoyle, who I'd met at Run #8/22 at Limavady, was first woman finisher at Derry.  Kerrie came back to run the final straight with me.  With Kerrie's positivity, I went for a few final speed bursts.  So, thanks to Kerrie for helping me achieve a new PB, by 3 seconds!, of 35:10.

Afterwards, Fidelma could see I needed to recover and she gave me her water bottle. Seems a small gesture perhaps.  However, in the moment, it meant a lot.  You never know when a simple act of insightful kindness will 'land' powerfully with someone.

Derry-N

Before leaving we spoke again with Run Director Gerard.  Looking at the Peace Bridge and the shore across the River, he spoke of the variety of people who meet up at parkrun.  I left Derry mulling Gerard's words...

"We bridge lots of divides."

DerryT

Derry City photo album is here - photos from Saturday, and also some from the Friday evening.

Now, we're into the Final Three - Ecos (Ballymena), Larne and finally Stormont 24-September.

Best wishes,
Tim

Project Objectives

Raised for Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI: £11,499

Raised for DKMS (formerly Delete Blood Cancer): £600

People registered with DKMS as prospective donors: 62

People who have signed up with parkrun: 25

Tim's Running Progress

#

Date

Course

Age Grade

1

19 Mar

Belfast Victoria

41.2%

2

26 Mar

Belfast Waterworks

40.4%

3

16 Apr

Bangor Ward Park

35.53%

4

23 Apr

Portrush

37.12%

5

7 May

Queens

39.26%

6

14 May

Enniskillen

38.13%

7

21 May

Comber

39.50%

8

28 May

Limavady

41.97%

9

4 June

Valley

38.37%

10

11 June

Wallace

39.83%

11

18 June

Ormeau

42.55%

12

25 June

Antrim

39.80%

13

2 July

Carrickfergus

35.21%

14

9 July

Citypark Craigavon

34.48%

15

30 July

Armagh

37.12%

16

6 Aug

MUSA Cookstown

39.48%

17

13 Aug

Colin Glen

35.93%

18

20 Aug

Falls

37.88%

19

27 Aug

Derry City

42.61%