fbpx My Hackney Half Experience - Rich Straker - London Youth

09 May 2016

At the beginning of the year I set myself a goal of getting fitter and healthier. I really did have the motivation to improve my lifestyle, it wasn’t just another new year’s resolution that I wouldn’t stick to. The opportunity came up to run the Hackney Half Marathon and raise money for London Youth. This was the perfect opportunity for me to achieve my goal as well as give something back. I have been working at London Youth for nearly a year and a half and I have loved every minute of it. I have seen first hand at how big an influence London Youth has on young people across London and my colleagues are extremely passionate and excellent at their jobs.

Here at London Youth, our mission is to support and challenge young people to be the best they can be. I believe we are excellent at doing this, but I also believe that we need to set an example of challenging ourselves to be the best we can be. In the past some of my colleagues have stepped up and smashed the London Marathon, British 10k and Ride London. I wanted to join the list of staff challenging themselves and setting an example to all the young people we work with.

The training was quite hard to being with; I had not done any serious running since leaving the Army. As I was already going to the gym regularly, I incorporated runs before my sessions. After a few weeks I took to the streets for my runs, starting off with 2 miles and building up mile by mile. After a month or so I started to enjoy my runs and I was getting really into it. I’m not going to lie, I did have low points during my training and close to throwing in the towel a couple of times; however as more and more people sponsored me that gave me the extra determination to finish my training and smash the run.
The Friday before the half marathon, the amazing London Youth family made signs to cheer me on and were all around the office. This really did spur me on and I wanted to do the half marathon there and then! I took all the signs home and put them up on my wall so I could use them for inspiration before race day. Race day was such an amazing experience. I was really nervous beforehand but as soon as I set off those nerves disappeared and I concentrated on completing the race, doing London Youth proud as well as all those who sponsored me. It was such a good atmosphere, the sun was shining (a little too hot) and everyone was so supportive all around the course.

The whole experience of training for and running a half marathon is not one I will forget quickly. I now lead a much healthier lifestyle and now back in the gym! This whole experience is made much better by the fact I have helped raise money for London Youth so that they can continue the fantastic work helping young people all over London.

If you would like to take on a challenge and raise money for London Youth to support young people to be the best they can be, click here to see our challenge opportunities!

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