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Marathon 4 Sebastian’s


 Why? With the rain lashing down and fierce winds, why am I dragging myself out of bed at 6 o’clock in the morning to run 8-10 miles in the dark? Why? – Training for the London Marathon. But standing at the end of the run, exhausted and soaking wet, looking like a dog that’s just been for a dip in the local stream, that didn’t really provide any solace. On reflection it’s not just ‘why’, more a question of ‘reason’ and ‘motivation’.

The reason, simple on the surface, is to raise money for Sebastian’s Action Trust – or more to the point, to raise funds in order to help provide families of seriously-ill children with practical and emotional support. Dig a little deeper and it’s about doing something that will go towards creating opportunities for these families to have quality time together to relax, recharge and rebuild, never having to face life alone.

The motivation comes from the memory of my little hero and baby boy, Beni, who died Christmas-time-before-last when he was only 18 months. To simply survive each day he had no other choice than to give his all. Beni had Myobular Mopathy, a condition that causes muscle weakness. Just breathing is a fight, let alone developing his strength so that he could sit up, hold his head up, learn basic sign, make his voice heard, or simple smile. If Beni, a little boy suffering from a life threatening condition could achieve so much, then I can run 26 miles!

So there I am, 4 times a week, out with my training partner Willow, my 9 month old dog (a white lab cross, but reminds me of the HMV dog), dressed in my luminous t-shirt, luminous running jacket and luminous hat, appearing as some throw-back from the late eighties, gradually extending the distance each week. Long runs are reserved for Saturday’s with shorter runs Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Right now my long run is up to 16 miles and I’m trying to deal with the prospect that on the day I’ll need to run a further 10 miles! This weekend, however, I’ve only got the 13 miles of the Reading Half Marathon to contend with.

It was way back in September when I signed-up for the Reading Half. While I’m fairly sporty with football and squash, I’m not a runner. So when asked in the application form how fast I’d completed the half marathon I had no real idea. “3 hours?” Feedback from friends, colleagues and loved ones was pretty unanimous: 3 hours for half a marathon is quite slow. Remembering this advice, when I completed the sign-up for the London Marathon, I took a slightly different approach and asked myself “How quickly could Mo Farah run it?” – 2 hours? Acknowledging that Mo is slightly out of my league, but thinking I can’t be so slow that it’ll take me twice as long, I said “3 1/2 hours”. Turns out, that 8 minute miles is quite fast for a novice runner!

Months lapsed, Christmas came and went, but the training had yet to start. That’s when the panic started. Perhaps I wasn’t appreciating how hard preparing for and running the marathon would be. So with 14 weeks to go, I hit to the road to gauge where I was at. 8 miles in 1hr 10 mins (8 3/4 minutes per mile). A quick search of the Internet and I’m delighted to find it’s exactly where I’m meant to be. But If I’d left starting training for another week, it would have been difficult for me to be ready in time. Now, with 6 weeks to go, I’m still on track and running at an 8 minute mile average.

Please take the time to sponsor me at, and why not make the trek to Reading this Sunday (2nd March) to cheer me on in the Reading Half Marathon – I’ll be the one in the Sebastian’s Action Trust top. - Stuart Hall-Cooper


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