A Marathon with a Difference

Tuesday 30th July 2019

A marathon with a difference

A few weeks ago now I ran in a marathon with a difference.

This was a trail marathon.  Twenty eight miles with 3,000 feet of ascent along the Calderdale Way.

I have run one marathon before in Edinburgh and managed to complete it in just under four hours, but that was flat – as well as four years ago. This was a new challenge. I started training last October and upped the training during Lent. I knew this was going to be harder and to be honest, I wasn’t certain that I would finish – I had some setbacks in training, and wasn’t able to practice full distance like I did with my previous marathon.

Still, with the help of one of our parishioners who is a very experienced fell runner to encourage me, I made sure I had done as much as I could and arrived early at the car park near Todmorden… Too early, because I had time to hear other people talking about all the other long distance runs they had done and they all looked like whippets!

Overcoming my doubts

In the end, I sat in my car with the window wound up and thought of my Sunday homily. I was tempted to drive away as I felt I was out of my league. There were only 120 people running and they all looked like good runners. I accepted that I would be last, but thought I must give it a go!

Seventy of us got on the coach to the start line as we had parked at the finish line. It was a long journey! I decided that I would watch what the other runners were doing when it came to steep uphill bits.

I had trained up on the moors around Bolton but not that distance. I was also worried about finding my way as there were only three stations for food and water, and not all of it was marked.  And the route certainly wasn’t lined with cheering people like the London marathon!

Once on the way I realised that some places had to be walked rather than run, that the time would be different to the last marathon and I did get lost or take the wrong turning on a number of occasions, but my fellow runners helped each other out along the way.

At one stage, I was all on my own on top of Ilkley Moor and was just thinking I was very lost when I saw a martial who said that I was the first he had seen since he arrived.  By then, there were not many people over taking me.

Trusting the journey and reaching the destination

It took me just under six hours to complete the trail and perhaps the hardest part was the last 10k, because the terrain meant I could not run it all, and I had to accept that some of it would take longer than I expected.

My sister was there to greet me and said not many had arrived before me. I wasn’t so sure.

To cut a long story a bit shorter, I came 19th overall, 15th in the men’s category and first in men’s veterans age 50-60!

And I nearly drove home without even starting.

Reflecting on my experiences, I realised that Hope in the Future is a marathon.  But we are now on the way. It has its challenges, wrong turnings and frustrations and we can’t always move as fast as we might like to.

But we are on the way and I believe that we can do it and we can do it well!

Fr Chris Gorton (pictured), who is a Parish Priest and responsible for Parish Mission in the diocese, reflects on his experiences of running a marathon with a difference, and shares how we can use this to guide our approach to Hope in the Future across the Diocese of Salford.

It is now over two years since we launched Hope in the Future in our Diocese, and we are approaching Stage 3 which will launch on 4th October.

By the end of this journey it is hoped that we will have a programme that has resources for parishes wherever they are at this time. Some parishes will be leading the way, others may not be able to follow at this time but will be able to start this process in the future.

Our diocese is home to an array of churches with vibrant parish communities. Some are rural, some are city-based, some are big and some are small. But at the heart of every parish is a group of people with their own gifts and talents, who use these to put their faith into action and live out the Gospel.

If your parish needs any assistance with the programme or has any questions please email hope@dioceseofsalford.org.uk


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