A FORMER Warwick man is really stepping up for a local charity when he takes on one of the country’s toughest races – from Birmingham to London.
Hamish Hanson is among around 100 ultra endurance runners in the 145-mile Grand Union Canal Race starting tomorrow (Friday).
The towpath route, which starts at Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin, will take the 24-year-old through his home town of Warwick as he passes through Hatton, before moving on to Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and ending at Little Venice in Paddington.
The former Ferncumbe Primary and King Edward VI School student, who now lives in Fulham, is running in aid of Warwick charity Molly Ollys which supports children with terminal and life-threatening illnesses and their families.
Hamish, who has been doing months of training runs of 100 miles a week, is looking forward to his first official race event, but admits he has been careful to prepare for all eventualities.
“With races of this length it’s mostly a mental battle in that your body will break at some point. It’s about that mental toughness when you’re in the pits and want to give up and it’s raining and your legs are aching and you just want to go home,” he said.
“It’s 230k and the longest I’ve run before is 60k so it’s a real step into the unknown for me. Practice will only get you so far but I’m trying to stay as positive as possible.
“I’ve done some night time running when I’m a bit tired in training but have never practised running for 12 hours into the night so there’ll be not only physical and mental exhaustion but actually overcoming the need to sleep.”
Hamish will be followed en route by his parents in a support car, offering food, drink and supplies as well as moral support throughout.
He added: “Nutrition is always a really difficult thing to get right. I’ve got enough Belvita soft baked biscuits to sink a small boat and endless jelly babies. And I’ll be taking caffeinated gels to help keep me awake during the night.”
Molly Ollys emotionally supports children between 0 and 18 who have life-threatening illnesses. It does that through its Olly The Brave therapeutic soft toy and award-winning books, as well as donating wishes to children who are facing unimaginable challenges.
Between 2017 and 2020, the charity funded Birmingham’s first paediatric palliative consultant as there was no such consultant for the region. That position has now become permanent and is currently funded through the NHS.
The charity works alongside the NHS to support projects within the hospitals and the community. One key project was the creation and refurbishment of Magnolia House at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
Molly’s mum and the charity’s Founder Rachel Ollerenshaw, said: “At Molly Ollys, we often have supporters who go out of their way to do weird and wonderful fundraising ideas which grab attention and help us to raise much needed funds. But this one from Hamish, takes the biscuit!
“We are so grateful to him as this challenge will be gruelling, but every penny Hamish raises we can promise will be put to great use helping children with life-threatening illnesses. Hamish was three years above my son, Ben at school and I personally want to thank him for choosing us to fundraise for.”
Although anticipating the challenges ahead, Hamish is determined to complete the run, on Saturday morning, in under 35 hours.
Hamish said: “People keep asking me if I’m mentally ready and I don’t really know what that means. I love running along the canal. I used to do it all the time when I lived in Warwick. And I’ve trained hard and am enjoying challenging myself.
“It’s been a lot of work and a lot of sacrifice and I’m looking forward to trying to achieve something.”
To sponsor Hamish visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hamish-hanson
Visit https://www.mollyolly.co.uk/learn-about-donating/ to donate to Molly Olly’s.