A Gentle Plea for a Great Cause

The top end of this article is about bringing you back to the Charity I have been doing this for, and then there is all the stuff about running and my donation page – so read on, thank you. Oh one last thing, within these ramblings are a number of links to all manner of other pages and interesting stuff – go on give them a click ūüôā
Mark Hammond (2)[440]

In all that has gone on since 2016, when I began fundraising for local homeless and housing charity Launchpad, it is easy to forget where the initial drive came from and importantly what great work they do. Their work does not just take people off the street but looks after those that struggle with general housing issues – for a vast number of reasons.

In the time I have been on this (sometimes personally painful journey) it is worth reflecting on some of the good work they have undertaken on behalf of those less fortunate or able than us, and providing services to those that (and lets be honest) we hope never to become.

I recently met with Katy Heppolette and Sophie Stokes on a visit to the Launchpad office in Reading where we discussed new projects and initiatives they have undertaken. In addition they gave me an insight and anecdotal feedback about just how much this has helped. Some of what they do may seem trivial to you and me, such as providing a removal day assistant, but when it was played back to me about just how this helped it made perfect sense; it also acted as a timely reminder about how the money I have raised has in some small way gone to provide such assistance.

In the short time I spent with them last week I got the real feeling of just how much this means to them and their colleagues. I can honestly say that for those who find themselves in a tough position this fantastic charity really does provide a much needed shoulder and social support when really needed, and I hope that I am able to complete my promise to them of raising the £2000.

So here goes the important stuff (in their words not mine) which I really hope you find just 15 minutes of your day to read – as you sup your coffee at the desk in between tedious meetings or yet another email, or standing on the platform waiting for your train which will invariably be late or that you actually take time out of your own day to sit and read some of the great stuff they continue to do.

Launchpad Reading Home Page

100 beds in Reading

Launchpad can house 100 people in properties and houses that they lease long-term across Reading, available to people who have a history of homelessness, are homeless, or are at risk of becoming homeless and need support Working Towards Independence.
For their clients, housing with support is a lifeline. The day they move in can be a turning point. Once a client has a steady home, it’s easier to provide regular, effective and preventative support for mental health, alcohol and substance misuse issues. Stable accommodation also helps break the cycle of reoffending. And their support helps tackle deep-rooted issues that have prevented clients from moving forward in life. Last year they housed and supported 206 individuals.

Launchpad Statistics and Story[439]


Some clients need professional support to overcome alcohol and drug misuse, or have a lack of numeracy, literacy and IT skills ‚Äď essentials for people aiming to work and look after themselves.

Last year their Education, Training and Employment service supported 267 people. 25 of whom attended certified external education/training gaining qualifications and 17 people secured a job.

Not all the people they support need the same help, some already have a University degree and some leave them to go to University.

Housing-With Support

Moving on

People don’t need to stay in their housing with support indefinitely, for longer than they need. Ideally within twelve months they will gained the skills and knowledge to live independently and without support.

Launchpad also provide houses for five people with their Move-on homes, with another five currently being built. The people that live in their move on homes have no immediate support needs but will probably have been supported by Launchpad. Move-on housing provides a bridge between housing people with support and completely living independently. By living in good quality housing People are less likely to become homeless again as there is a safety net of a support network and access to advice. When the time is right they will be encouraged and supported to move on to be totally independent to allow someone else to move in to move-on.

They help clients move on whether it’s into our long term accommodation or into their own privately rented accommodation. Support includes help with setting up bills and advice for sustaining a tenancy.

Permanent rented accommodation is limited in Reading and they hope to be able to house more people with more long term housing in the coming years. They are currently undertaking a first building project and building five more Move-on homes in Reading due to be built and ready to move in to February 2019.

Project under way

Launchpad Gardens

My Charity Appeal – Please use the link below to make donations via Just Giving


Thanks to all of you that have helped get donations over £1500, your support is wonderful.

What next for me? 

On the 6th October my wife and I, and a whole heap of others are travelling to Ireland to take part in the Run Galway event, myself the half marathon and Carla taking the start line for her first ever 10K. Both of us have had injury set backs on the road to preparation but that won’t stop us from enjoying what is promised to be a flat run, with the weather promising to be kind to us as well. So wish us luck and please dig a little deeper one more time to help me settle my promise to Launchpad.

Here is an interesting fact – if everyone I know in my company, those who say they are a friend on Facebook and Instagram etc,¬† friends who don’t do social but are email or phone contacts, business acquaintances and family were all to sponsor me ¬£1 each that would top things up by about ¬£1000, so I am hoping that in reading this I can attract you to being one off those. Of course if you are new to this blog, never beard of me and stumbled over this accidentally then why not make a new friend today and drop a pound, dollar or Euro in the pot in the knowledge that you will be helping a fantastic¬† charity, and some less fortunate souls.

The rest of my story

I began my challenge in 2016 and if you are not familiar with that little fact then please follow the link to the kick off story РHow it started, where it goes next and if still interested after that you will find all my updates covered off in there Рthe highs and the lows.

In brief РI aimed to complete 10 half marathons and three 10K runs in 2016. This was curtailed when I came down with a chest infection that kept me out for 10 weeks in the early part of the year and then in September (during the Maidenhead half which I did finish) I ran into problems with my right foot that kept me from completing the last of my planned runs.

2017 and I was very (too) cautious about running distance in case of injury again, so I ended up with just the Wargrave 10k and a number of cancelled run entries. That said I did get in to Park Run towards the end of 2017 to try and get me back on the road.

2018 and after just 2 short runs I now hit problems with my right knee, this led to physiotherapy rest and strengthening exercises for a few weeks. Finally back and running I entered the Wargrave 10K and have now been a regular attendee of Park Run in Reading. That brings us up to date and my commitment to run the Galway Half in a few days from now.

2019 – Injury free and may miles under the belt, well that’s the plan.

So that’s it for the update, and the plan, but for more detail about my adventure¬†and Launchpad you can go to the main menu of my blog and read all the news there,. Whilst there please¬†sign up now for updates as and when they happen, oh and pass on the good news about the charity to friends and family for me.

Thanks for reading and hopefully donating.

Interestingly World Homeless Day is the 10th October!

Once more – this is my Just Giving page for your wonderful generosity –¬†JUST GIVING



Post Galway Hoorah for friends

I want to start by saying that 4 seconds is a huge length of time and £257 is such a big number.

The Galway trip came and went before I knew it. The plan was twofold Р(1) Finish inside 2 hours (and without picking up an injury) and (2) complete my promise to the charity of raising £2000 for them.

My race build up was not the best, I had not managed a full training distance and my mind was not sure I was up to the job. The company was good and the course was flat so in theory the in country build up was right.

Galway host a race day which features a full marathon kicking off at 08:30, a 10K start of 10:30 and the half marathon at 12:15. Within the house we rented we had entrants for all distances and so a lot of waiting around for us 13 milers. It was also a cold and slightly blustery day, but bright blue skies and a little sunshine. All in all it was pretty good conditions for a run.

My race plan was simple; sit on the shoulders of the 2 hour pace setter, then breakaway about 2/3rds of the way through the race if I had the pace left in me and just knock a minute or so off the pace. Actual race day went something like: sit on shoulder of 2H pace man, not liking his pace, pass him and settle in to my own comfy place knowing I was ahead, keeping a consistent time per mile and ahead of a 2 hour finish, at 12 miles watch in disbelief as the pacer went past me! That was akin to hitting the phenomenon known as the wall. Quite literally my legs and head simultaneously said “FFS no, that hurts, don’t like running now, slow down and just finish the damn thing”. The thing is my competitive nature is not an easy push-over so I fired my legs up and pushed them through the muscle cramp and tried (very much in vein) to catch him. I did pick up my pace a little, from the snail I had become as he wooshed past me earlier, but not enough to catch him. I always have something left in the tank at the end of any distance run and so I put the muscle in overdrive and sprinted to the end; crossing the line in (when the official text arrived) 2Hours and 3 Seconds…. 3 seconds, I can tell you now the beer I was holding went don’t very quickly when that message arrived. So like I said at the start 4 seconds is a huge length of time.

My wife (Carla) managed a 10K PB, in fact all the other Mel, Jen and Stephanie all completed their respective races in PB times – which was nice. The men of our house all failed in their aim – which was nice (that I had company that is). In fairness this was Carla’s first 10K having only just started park run this year so not technically a PB…‚Ķ..I will no doubt be buying the wine for that comment tonight!

The event was well organised with the exception of the start times and the wait we had, as well as maybe the bag drop/collect location, but with over 4000 people and 3 main events it was a great running gala. The post run tent was the best I have seen with massage locations, food stands, drink stands – all free of course – and with so many volunteers Run Galway is a definite must do for anyone interested in distance running.


Now on to the important stuff and why I started this madness.

My aim as I say was to raise ¬£2k for Launchpad Reading, and that was back in 2016. Having finished I knew that, despite some last minute sponsors, I was still short by ¬£257. And then the unexpected happened, one of those things that just rocks you in your spot, an overwhelming feeling of wow! (yup I really am like a thesaurus). Out of the blue, and days after the run, I received a simple message via Just Giving that said “Hi Mark, hopefully you’ve now reached your target. I had now. This very generous anonymous person gave me the remainder of my target, hence why I said at the start of this article that¬†¬£257 is such a big number. This person whose anonymity I will maintain is a man who years ago did some work on our house. I wont forget that generosity and if he ever runs a half marathon I shall be generous in return. Moments like this do renew your faith in mankind (well at least some).

So what next? My charity challenge done and money raised; I now run as a hobby and my wife has taken it up too; I have exhausted my friends support and wallets and of course pushed myself through some painful injured times. Some of my other aims in 2018 were to run faster than I had before at 5k, 10k and half marathon distances: 5K many PB times, but alas 10k and the half still sit out there taunting me so that is where my attention is next year.

I am not giving up the blog either, like it or not, as it acts as my own personal fitness diary as much as anything else. I will also keep my donation page open too (for as long as Just Giving let me).

I just want to end with a list of thanks to those who were there for me both financially and as physical Support throughout 2016-2018, some  of these wonderful souls actually went back to the piggy bank on more than one occasion. Without all of you this would not have been achieved so much love to each and everyone of you.

J Tetley, Joeldanna Knight, Tommy and Sophie, Nigel Briggs, Roger Rapsey, Gary Burley, Marc Herbrandt, Allan Johnstone, Lisa Overett, Emma Walsh, Amanda Brierley, David Harwood, Ellie Nicklen, Mickey Price, Ian Maiden, Alison, Will Hibberd, Christine Loynes, EAF, Ian Dibble, Kaela, Terry Hegarty, Neville Gliddon, Clare Lavender, Lorrae Hayes, Ali Cox, Neil Carter, Andrew Mitchard, Jo Norton, Rich Gillard, Chris Johnson, Benjamin Emms, Rob Hall, Bobby Bansal, Beth Stevenson, Steve & Marie, Matt G, Kevin Hogan, Matt Rowe, Daniel Nethercote, Steve Overett, Pete Franklin, Mum and Dad, Scott Marlin, Chris Ramsey, Debbie Stancombe, Chris and Erica, Carol and Alan, Mark Grimes, Jon King, Neil and Liz, Steve Carter, Nick Kendo, Chrissy and Paul, Luke Smith Carl, Matt Bridges, Steve and Ele, Katy Prince, Carly and Andy, Carla (many many times) patient wife, Charlotte Hollidge and of course all the Mr and Mrs Anonymous.

Finally there are 2 others I want to thank as well for raising money under team Me – Gillian Fynn who I was promised to for the Reading Half marathon but injury got the better of me and Steve Carter who I was also due to run with, this one in Bristol, but again injury stopped me from competing, nevertheless they both squeezed their friends in the name of Launchpad so thanks to you both – maybe 2019 we can find a race we can do together?

Finally, finally, a big thanks for the moral support from the wonderful people at Launchpad, may you continue to do for the local community what you have done so spectacularly so far. I will see you soon with more cookies and cakes.


Fight back still going well

As you will know, if you are a close friend listening to me bang on about it, or you have been unfortunate enough to stumble across my updates here (which frankly I have been doing for my own record keeping) you will know I have been fighting back from a few set backs in 2016/17.

The good news is that so far this year I have managed regular attendance at park runs and have set a PB 3 times in the last 5 of them. In fact until 2017 I struggled to manage a sub 26 minutes. Since I hit the dizzy heights of 25:20 as a PB in June last year I have not run slower than that this year and as I say managed to set 3 new PB’S.¬†So that means I have achieved one of my 2018 targets – 5k PB (tick).

Apart from the Park Run events I ran a 55:57 at Wargrave 10k which was well off my best. That said I was running in my spare shoes as my main kit was in an airport somewhere in the world, eventually returned to me 2 weeks later. The race itself was okay, I felt like quitting after 3k but that is my usual mental block I have to overcome on every run. The day was however eventful for a number of reasons – 1) great support from half a dozen friends 2) running the event with friends Ali and Ian who both hit a PB and 3) a massive BBQ party afterwards courtesy of good friends Sophie and Tommy.

So what next? I guess preparing for Galway half marathon in October. To be fair I should have also run the Maidenhead half this month with two other mates. That plan however did not come to fruition due to me not training anywhere like I should, Carl pulled out due to an aged and knackered body and Steve found himself with a ruptured bowl (that’s age for you). In the end I gave my place to another friend, Ian, who ended up pulling a muscle during the run. So I reckon with all those pre run ailments, the mid run injury and the fact that this was the race that did me in last year it’s safe to say it’s a jinx.
So I guess now my running needs to start again in earnest whilst avoiding the need to push myself to far.
So that’s it for now. Stay tuned for updates.

Back on the case 2018

Following another injury in the early part of this year I am back on the road again with a number of Run’s scheduled.

January saw me in knee pain after only a short run, diagnosed soon after by the physio as wasted muscle around the knee cap (I am sure there is a technical name for that). Given a number of exercises to undertake each day to rebuild it I am pleased to report (to myself largely) that i am back and running, showing some good improvements. In fact just last week I missed my 5k PB by just 10seconds!

I still have some work to do on my distances if I am to PB across them all this year (that is my wish list item). I have a 10k in Wargrave in just 20 days, and then a half in Maidenhead in September. Those are set in stone subject to injury but I will be adding more as soon as I complete Wargrave on 9th June.

My aim two years ago, apart from making an old man fit, was to raise money for a local charity called Launchpad and I find myself just shy of the target at the start of this year and so hopeful that my previous sponsors and newbies might just take pity and push that total over the goal line.

Well that’s it for the update today, I will add more the closer I get to the June Run, and hopefully positive vibes post Run. A Run which incidentally I will be joined by friend Alison Hunt from Cape Town.

Thanks for reading

It is but a short distance but a long way back for me.

My blog has been sorely lacking in stories of running recently, and for good reason(s)  I have not been updating my blog (lazy) and I have not really been out running (injured).

So tomorrow I set off on my first 10K run of the year at Wargrave, the third time I have been here and each of the two previous runs were enjoyable so no reason to think this won’t be. The one thing against me and¬†a PB is that I have only been doing Park Run 5K recently so whilst I am mentally prepared I am not sure the body is just yet. My PB is 51:54 so lets see how I get on.

If you have been reading the blog you will know that I treat my runs as social things too, last year Carla and I spent a few long weekends away seeing great parts of the country, and so tomorrow post run has been organised by friends Tommy and Sophie who are hosting a BBQ (not just for me I hasten to add) so even if the run is a slow one, an unenjoyable one, or I give up at least there is food and beer up for grabs.

Again from reading the blog you know I set off last year to run many half marathon and 10K runs, but as I say injury left me short of completing the season. That also means I ended up short of my charity fund raising target of £2000, and means I have to finish that pledge to Launchpad Reading this year. That is actually where you come in now. Below are three links Рone to the Charity, one to my fundraising page and one a short navigation to the main page of this blog that tells you how I ended up on this charity campaign.

Thanks for reading and I hope you come back to read how I got on, not just in this race but others too.

So the charity Launchpad Reading

My Just Giving Page Just Giving

My Home Page Running Stuff

Running into problems

It has been some time since my last post. Frankly it’s been a long time since I was able to run, any real distance (by that I mean anything more than 5-10 minuets).

Back in September 2016 I entered the Maidenhead half marathon and left it in some discomfort. It turned out some months later, after physio sessions that I have a badly fallen arch in my right foot, a hip issue brought on by my right leg being longer than my left and to cap it all arthritis in my right foot too.

Anyway I am now back on the hunt for more runnng events in aide of charity through 2017. I had thought of entering Brighton half at the end of February but was then struck down by a bad cold, I then entered the Reading half only to realise it’s the day after the final day of the six nations tournament and there will be too much beer consumed that day to make running a safe option. 

I am now signed up to two 10k runs in May and June, and will now work towards a handful of half marathons. I have been told by former colleague and friend of mine that she wants me to run a full marathon by the end of the year with her. So I guess I have two options get fit and train for it or get injured and have a valid reason why not to punish myself that much. As much as the thought of a full marathon scares the crap out of me I am actually quite excited about the chance to achieve something that a very small percentage of people could do. Actually given my track record with injury this last 12 months I may be getting ahead of myself a little. 

At this time I am not sure what my run diary will look like but one thing is for sure I just want to raise the last ¬£500 towards my ¬£2000 target for Launchpad Reading. Please keep an eye out for blog updates and charity appeals from me as I would love to get over that one finish line. 

Anyhow my first real run of the year (okay it’s a Park Run 5k) is in a weeks time where I am hoping that the shoe implants do their job and get me around the course close to a PB and also in comfort.

Thanks for taking time to read. 

Running 2016 – over and out -regretably

My quest to complete a stack of half marathons came crashing down a few weeks ago, following weeks of pain and physio visits. So with the words rest ringing in my ears a few of us decided a trip to Spain was in order, which turned out to be a fair bit of walking, not what the doctor ordered.

I have now been advised to rest for the remainder of 2016 to repair the damage to the soft tissue in my right foot – advice I have now taken. I will be back in 2017 to complete the ones I failed to start as well as some new challenges (and no there will not be a marathon in there).

My last race in Maidenhead left me short of achieving my goal of sub 1h50m this year, and was where I picked up the damage to my foot, or at least was what contributed further damage to a long time problem with a fallen arch.

The pain was akin to a shoe lace too tight across the bridge of the foot, and on healing the pain shifted underneath. I am now in the process of having specially fitted running shoes and in-shoe supports for everyday life – a cost I had not prepared for.

I appreciate that what I have achieved in 2016, having never done any real running before, could be seen as something to be proud of. The trouble is I drive myself on in all things so I am ending this year feeling quite down about how it all came to an end. I certainly had no idea, back in January, that i would end up so ill in the early part of the year that cost me 2 half marathons, and then another 3 dropped due the damage to my foot.

Anyway this is me signing off the year and to say I will be back in 2017 stronger and more determined than I have ever been, and I will be continuing my fund raising in earnest.

Thanks to all of you who have read my blog, contributed to my charity fund-raising, been there at the finish and to anyone that has simply offered me words of encouragement.

I wish you all a fantastic end to 2016.