Going the distance for Globe Town
With just 10 days to go til the Vitality Big Half Marathon, Esther Cann talks to Steph Delaney of Team GCP about raising money for her local community.
So what inspired you to do run for your neighbourhood?
I really enjoy running and wanted to do a half marathon. I’ve never run a race to raise money for anyone before, so the opportunity to raise money for Globe Community Project was really attractive. I’ve got to know more about what they do through sessions at the ‘Transforming Self and World’ group at the Buddhist Centre. I’ve met with Sraddhapuspa in various contexts and find her incredibly inspiring. When I heard Jane’s idea about running to raise money for GCP, I thought, YES! It was an immediate response.
What made you want to support GCP?
Raising money for smaller charities appeals to me. There’s something about how tangible it is, the difference it makes. You can better see the impact you have. All charities need our support but I sometimes think the bigger ones, ones for sexier causes and children’s charities get a lot of spotlight, whereas smaller charities don’t. Yet I think the work that Globe does has a big impact on my immediate surroundings. Also, as a Buddhist I believe our actions are an expression of our practice in the world, and that really inspires me. We could do a lot more of this as a sangha. I’d love to give my time to a project at GCP but it’s not very realistic for me at the moment, whereas raising money through a half marathon is.
So what kind of training have you been doing?
I’ve been running four days a week since January, following this training programme I found. I’ve loved it. The first couple of miles are always a slog but it’s been great to have a reason to get up as dawn breaks to go for a run. The weather’s been beautiful the last few months. I’ve been much more positive and have much more energy than in previous Januarys. I think it’s having that motivation to get out and run. I’m nursing a slightly sore foot at the moment though, from training in my old trainers, which I shouldn’t have done. But other than that I’ve no niggles or injuries at all. What’s hard is the mental resistance in the morning, but once I get past it, it’s been a real joy.
What motivates you to keep going?
Seeing the sunrise – we’re lucky being out east. Running at dawn is a very easy and immediate way to drop into my body. Sometimes I get a bit stuck in my head and running’s a great way to let my mind run its course, with whatever is bothering it. I feel a lot clearer and steadier afterwards. I can get low mood and energy in January, but this year I’ve had loads more energy than in previous Januarys. I like the discipline of it. My speed and fitness is increasing and it’s gratifying, seeing my route getting slightly further week by week. Going distances and times I didn’t think I could do. It’s been a lovely way to connect with nature as well. I’ve loved running around the waterways of East London, along the Lea River, Hackney and Walthamstow marshes, down the canals and the parks.
What’s the best bit about the training?
It’s a bit naff, but Sunday mornings I tend to say hello to everyone I pass. Make eye contact, smile at people I see on my route, and often they respond. Dog walkers, buggies, people on strolls, other runners, cyclists along the canals, people on their boats. Not if they have their noise cancelling headphones on though!
Do you feel part of your local community?
I very much feel part of it. I have a job in Tower Hamlets and we provide services to adults with a learning disability. We’re quite a diverse team and we serve the people of the borough. I do feel part of it. I do really value working in the public sector. We work with adults with all kinds of different needs and strengths. I love the melting pot that is living and working in Tower Hamlets. It’s the only borough I’ve lived in during my ten years in London.
What makes you feel part of your local community?
Sometimes on a work visit to a supported living placement, I’ll go past my own house to see clients! Then there’s the guy at the market who sells fruit on Roman Road. I stop to have a chat with him once a week, when I go to get my stash of fruit for work. There’s the walk between my home on Approach Road and the London Buddhist Centre I visit every week. Several times a week I’ll recognise and say hello to people having a coffee in the Larder or the Gallery as I pass, which in a borough of nearly half a million people is quite something!