Hands Up Foundation is now Action Syria

Craig Takes On Hackney Half

Craig recently took on the Hackney Half Marathon, not for the first, or second, but THIRD time in support of Action Syria. We caught up with him afterwards to hear a bit more about how it went and why he’s chosen to support Action Syria over the years.

  • Why did you decide to support Action Syria?

The positive stories which come out of the work that Action Syria do are truly heartwarming. My priorities have changed slightly since becoming a Dad, and seeing any child in difficulty is hard for me to ignore, but the support Action Syria gives to the school in the Bekaa Valley helps so many displaced children, giving them a safe place to learn, grow and be themselves. I can’t think of a better goal than to foster and support the next generation, especially those that have been through so much at such a young age.

  • How long have you been running? Is this your first half marathon?

I did the Couch to 5km plan (which I’d highly recommend anyone who is interested in starting) about 15 years ago when I lived in Germany. I’ve run on and off since then, but started running more and further over the Covid lockdowns. I finally decided to quit smoking when I found out we were having a baby, and I thought it might be a good idea find something to help me focus, so I decided to enter the Hackney Half in 2022. I’ve now done three consecutive Hackney Half Marathons, getting slightly faster each year.

  • Will there be any more?

I’ve entered the ballot for the London Marathon next year, so fingers crossed! Either way, I’m definitely not finished running for charity yet.

  • How did you prepare for the event?

I used to use printed out plans from Runners World and other sources, but followed a Garmin Coach running plan on my watch this year (first time I’ve tried this) which had me running four times a week, for around 12-14 weeks. It can be very demanding of your time, but I’ve felt fitter this year than I have for a long time.

  • What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?

Juggling work, family and friends can be difficult at the best of times, and I honestly couldn’t have done all the training without the support of my wife – she put up with a lot of solo playground/child entertainment trips, which I hope to repay. Ice packs, walking like John Wayne and moaning like Frankenstein’s monster were probably not the highlight of the last 3 months for her.

  • How did you feel crossing the finish line?

Better than the last two years! I was ready to collapse after those. This year I felt very tired and jelly-legged, but also extremely elated and strangely energized too. The Hackney Half is such a great one to do – so many people cheering on absolute strangers, it kind of gave me a buzz and a smile from ear-to-ear when I’d hear someone from the crowd spot a friend of theirs and screaming their heads off in support. There’s live music every few miles too and the whole feeling around it is amazing.

  • What advice would you give to someone thinking of taking up the baton and fundraising for Action Syria?

I should have been a bit savvier than I have been. I’m not very good at self-promotion, especially not on social media, but I had a lot of help with friends and family generously donating and sharing my Justgiving page and posts on Instagram. If you’re a shrewder social whizz, you’ll be able to raise at least twice the amount I was able to.

  • Any other thoughts/ reflections?

Always keep frozen peas or ice packs in the freezer.

A huge thank you to Craig for his unwavering support! Same again next year?

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