After waiting 18 months to run the ABP Newport Wales Marathon, a proud dad is looking forward to taking on the 26.2 miles with his daughter ‘just ahead’ of him.
Mark Bricknell, 60, had been preparing to run the race in October 2020, but the pandemic restrictions saw the event postponed. A lot has changed in that time, not least that the proud father will now have a running partner – his daughter, Megan, who was stuck in New Zealand during the first stages of the pandemic.
Mark says: “In what seems a life time ago now, and despite telling my wife Lily that my days of longer races were done due to the training, when I saw I could do Newport for the NSPCC I jumped at the chance.
“Eighteen months after entering, a major birthday, a bucket list wish fulfilled of being on a TV gameshow, half a stone heavier, and one dodgy ankle I can’t shake, along the way I picked up the company of my beautiful daughter Megan.
“When she said matter of factly “yeah, I’ll run it with you dad”, not only was I gobsmacked, but over the moon. We did a half marathon together a number of years ago and I never thought I’d top that but this has.
Megan, 27, who works in construction, was travelling with her boyfriend when she started running again.
She says: “When Covid hit we got stuck in New Zealand, it was very scary at the time as no one knew what was going to happen. With nothing to do, I started running again as I’ve always enjoyed it and I continued when I finally got back to the UK when I started running weekly with Dad. Not only is the marathon a bucket list thing to do, it’s not every day you get to do it with your Dad.
“I’ll be honest working a full-time job, training 4-5 times a week and maintaining a social life is extremely hard, but I think the pints have helped me along the way. After the 16 weeks’ training has finished, I think I will miss it and but I will also be looking for the next challenge!”
Mark and Megan will be raising crucial funds for the NSPCC that relies on public donations for 90% of its funding. They have set up fundraising pages (Mark and Megan) and hope to raise £1,000 between them.
Mark says: “Over the years I’ve run loads of races, quite a few marathons and even a couple of Ironmans, but to run this distance with my daughter tops everything. She’s faster than me so I’m trying to encourage her to really go for it, but I know at the end when I see her I’ll be so full of pride and love that the tears will flow.
“My wife Lily works for the NSPCC, and I know the last 18 months have been difficult. “Younger people have suffered more than anyone during Covid, so anything I could do to help, however small, I thought I would.
Megan adds: “It will be a very big day for us both, but I couldn’t think of anyone else I would like to share it with, and eating all the carbs I want is pretty good! At the moment I’m excited, but I think towards the end of the week I will be nervous and on race day a bit of an emotional rollercoaster!
“The NSPCC is such a wonderful charity, and I can’t imagine what some children have had to go through especially over the last 18 months, so being able to help in any way possible and running for such a great cause I hope things will start to improve.”
Every £4 raised for Lead Charity NSPCC could help a trained volunteer Childline counsellor answer a call from a worried or frightened child or young person. Children can contact Childline 24/7 on 0800 11 11 or via childline.org.uk where 1-2-1 online chats can be requested, with one of its 12 bases located in Cardiff.
Supporter Fundraising Manager for NSPCC Cymru/Wales, Emma Brennan says: “The Newport Marathon and 10km is an event we look forward to in our diaries each year in anticipation of all the #TeamNSPCC runners like Mark and Megan.
“We’ve really missed our mass participation events in Wales over the last 18 months, so this one is going to be extra special as we see our runners in green take on the 26.2 mile, or 10km, course to help us make a difference to the lives of children and young people.
“With the help of our fundraisers we are able to be here for children around the clock through services such as Childline, helping children who continue to inspire us with their resilience and adaptability.
“The money raised by our runners will help our child protection work, which includes the virtual safeguarding assemblies that we offer free to all primary schools across Wales.”
Anyone with any concerns about the welfare of a child can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 or visit nspcc.org.uk for advice.