Road Warrior Challenge

1st challenge for the children's hospital

Richard Hayes, The Mohican Runner, holds The Children’s Hospital very close to his heart, as he was treated for a multitude of injuries and trauma throughout his childhood, during which the hospital staff became a family to the youngster.

Richard remembers one of our nurses giving him a LEGO set one Christmas. He said: “I built it on my hospital bed and that’s what got me into LEGO. She didn’t have to do that but it made my world and now I play with LEGO for a living. I never had a chance to really say thank you.”TCHC

After two challenges for the NSPCC, I wanted to also give back to another charity. The Children’s Hospital in Sheffield is a hospital close to my heart, as I was treated for a multitude of injuries and trauma throughout his childhood, during which the hospital staff became a family to me.

One Christmas, one of the nurses at The Children’s Hospital  bought me a LEGO pirate set with a ship, a pirate and a palm tree. I built it on my hospital bed and that’s what got me into LEGO. She didn’t have to do that but it made my world and now I play with LEGO for a living. I never had a chance to really say thank you.

The challenge kicked off on Sunday 2nd August 2015 with the Run For All York 10K and the challenge was to do 52 races in 52 weeks and wearing face paint from my favourite WWF wrestlers from the 1980’s and 1990’s.

By mid-September I had to drop the face paint due to my skin having a bad reaction to it. The challenge went well up to mid-November when I became ill with a chest infection, almost causing the challenge to end. Afterwards I managed to get back on track but after doing 5 races including 3 back to back during the festive period, I made the decision to end the challenge earlier having done 32 races in just 23 weeks.

Even though I made the decision to finish the challenge early. I still managed to achieve my fundraising target of £2,000, raising a total of £2019.10.

The races that were part of the challenge are below:

  • Run for All York 10k Sunday 2nd August (36:36)
  • Bassingham Bash 5mSaturday 8th August (29:38)
  • West Yorkshire 5m Sunday 9th August (30:51)
  • Ray Harrison Memorial 10k Sunday 16th August (36:59)
  • Birchwood 10k Sunday 23rd August (38:14)
  • Badgers Atherstone 10kSunday 30th August (39:11)
  • Spencers Arms Dash Wednesday 2nd September (22:50)
  • Yorkshire Gold 5k Sunday 6th September(18:17)
  • Wetherby 10k Sunday 6th September (38:19)
  • East Coast Classic 10k Sunday 13th September (36:37)
  • Vale of York HM Sunday 20th September (81:11)
  • Great Yorkshire Run Sunday 27th September (36:21)
  • ERRA National 6 Stage Relays Saturday 3rd October (21:34)
  • Cusworth 10k Sunday 4th October (36:49)
  • Yorkshire 10m Sunday 11th October (61:13)
  • Green Drive 5m Sunday 18th October (29:25)
  • Holmfirth 10k Sunday 25th October (37:04)
  • EDF Power Surge 10k Sunday 1st November (37:30)
  • Cheshire 10k Saturday 7th November (36:18)
  • Windmill 10k Sunday 8th November (37:50)
  • Leeds Abbey Dash Sunday 15th November (36:59)
  • Loughborough 10k Sunday 22nd November (36:51)
  • Cheddleton 10k Saturday 28th November (38:32)
  • No Walk in the Park 5k Saturday 5th December (18:31)
  • Santa Dash Saturday 12th December (7:02)
  • Bolsover 10k Sunday 13th December (36:41)
  • Travellers 6 Sunday 20th December (38:28)
  • Braithwell Boxing Day Run Saturday 26th December (27:22)
  • Ward Green 6 Sunday 27th December (35:12)
  • Cleethorpes News Years Day 10k Friday 1st January (36:39)
  • No Walk in the Park 5k Saturday 2nd January (18:30)
  • Hit the Trail 5 Sunday 3rd January (31:11)

Here is a recap of the challenge: I don’t know how this challenge came about but it all started the summer of 2015. I had nailed some dream times at both 5K and 10K and wanted a new challenge. That then grew to become 52 races in 52 weeks. Then I added the WWF/WWE face paint so by the time I rocked up to my first race it had become a full blown challenge. I was still with Hallamshire Harriers at the time and decided to alternate between their colours and that of the charity which was blue. Those vests by Nike were still the best vests I had. The charity loved my idea after doing so much for the NSPCC but left feeling under appreciated at the time despite everything I had done I opted to do a local charity that I had also used. I also meant I tried to do as many local races as possible.

The challenge kick off at my fav city of York with the Run for all 10k. I got some serious looks from officials as I was in my normal start pen, even though one marshal tried to direct me to the back with the other “fun runners” as he called them. A middle finger directed to him as I ran 36:36 just 2s off my PB on a tougher course. The following week I had back to back 5 mile races on the Saturday and Sunday. I set a new PB on the Saturday afternoon at a very hot Bassingham Bash and then Sunday morning I headed up to West Yorkshire for the Firefighters 5 miler that had an up hill start and finish. Was slower but another strong race.

I saw out August with a 10k on the final three Sundays with two very hot Sundays then a very hilly one to finish. The first one was a two lap course up in Billingham starting and finishing at the football ground. I opted for the face paint of the Ultimate Warrior it was here I learnt how much pain it is to run with paint running into your eyes. I was a right mess at the end but it was another sub 37 10k time. I was getting plenty of publicity and the family and I was enjoying seeing a lot of new places. The idea of the challenge was still a novelty.

The following week it was over to a red hot Birchwood 10k. I had a horrid race as I struggled in the conditions plus I think it was the first time the racing caught up with me. A good finish but a race I felt was mis-sold as flat! The final race was in Atherstone I knew it was hilly but still had my best ever finish at the time finishing 7th overall, I even led the race for a bit which was a funny sensation but the hills were tough but I did enjoy the final section.

No rest as it was straight into the start of the autumn race season, Wednesday night I did a local race that was just over 3.6 miles with some evil hills and then I followed this up by racing a 5k at 11 and then running a 10k an hour later. I finished 5th in the 5k and still managed to place high in the second race. It was crazy but I look back at that weekend with some great fondness. The following weekend I had a cracking race over in Mablethorpe running my 3rd best ever 10k. It was around this time I was nominated by my wife to captain Yorkshire at what would be the final ever Great Yorkshire Run in Sheffield. After a few weeks of voting I won the public vote. Before that race I ran a PB at the very flat and fast Vale of York half marathon in 81:11. Then it was my homing coming and not only did I captain Yorkshire to victory and received my first ever trophy but I smashed my PB by running 36:21. I PB’d every year at this race and miss it a lot.

From the highs of the weekend, I had a low point the following Saturday. After getting picked for my clubs national relay team, I saw elitism first hand and its something I’ve not forgot or forgiven and I think even back then I knew me and the club culture would never get on fully. The following day I was back racing in my challenge vest in Doncaster running another sub 37. I then followed this up by running the first ever Yorkshire 10 miler in York running my 2nd fastest 10 mile at the time. Then as the weather began to change I saw myself venturing further a field to race. As I headed up to Lytham St-Anns to do the Green Drive 5 and I came away with yet another PB at the distance. I finished the month by racing the hilly Holmfirth 10k and after a scramble at the start I settled into 3rd and ended up holding the position till the end to get my first ever podium. It was a massive achievement.

So I was on a high from the previous weeks 3rd place and rocked up to a power station the other side of Retford and my wife said she had a strange feeling about this race. Thinking nothing more the gun went and I soon found myself in the lead and by the first switchback I had already opened up a large gap and I was chasing the lead bike. I expected to be caught as we went off road but I held the lead and by the 2nd switch back after 4 miles I had a massive lead. As we hit the road back to the power station I was running like the devil himself was chasing me. The final bit was down on the grass and I kept checking behind me and then I crossed the line and won. Even now that feeling still stays with me and no win since has felt the same. I still chase wins hoping to have that feeling but I don’t think I will get it unless it’s a big city race win.

There was no time to rest on my win as I had another back to back weekend with a 10k both days. I set a PB at the Cheshire 10k on the Saturday and then finished 4th at the very windy Windmill 10k on the Sunday. The following week I did my fav 10k in Leeds but the conditions and racing meant I didn’t perform as well as I did the year before and just scraped under 37 minutes. I kept to the 10k distance for the rest of November, first doing the Loughborough 10k which was a horrid route running round the campus and across moving traffic but I did run faster then I had in Leeds. I then headed to Leek for the Cheddleton 10k a lapped course with some serious ups and downs. I managed to win a prize but I felt rubbish and meant I missed the following days Barnsley 10k and spent the week with a chest infection.

My body was telling me I was on the brink of a breakdown but my pure stubbornness meant I kept going. Running the No Walk in the Park 5k to kick off the final month of 2015. Then I won a local Santa Dash the following Saturday to mask the issues. As it was taking a toll on the entire family and our budget in petrol costs. My family are very supportive but this challenge really pushed that support to the limit and by January it wasn’t something I was prepared to risk losing. Anyway before that I still managed a final 10k under 37 minuted at the Bolsover 10k. I followed this by doing the tough Travellers 6 the week before Christmas. As a family Christmas was all about the challenge as I raced 5 times over the festive period. I raced boxing day and the following day at the Ward Green 6 to see out 2015.

I then raced New Years Day at the sub zero Cleethorpes 10k, the following day I did the No Walk in the Park 5k and finished on the 3rd with a very muddy 5 miler around Stockport. By time I had finished the last race I was a broken man. I had enough. My family had also had enough, I had taken everything to the extreme and while I enjoyed some awesome memories I knew I had to call it a day for the sake of my own health and sanity and also putting my family before me. So the following day I let everyone know that the challenge had ended. I still had raced every weekend for over 6 months racing 32 times in that period. Setting PB’s at 10k, HM and 5 miler as well as winning my first ever race. At the time I said it would be my last charity challenge however, I would attempt one final charity challenge in 2018……………….


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