“Thank you, but that was horrendous, never again!” The exhausted words of 24-year-old Hamish Hanson as he crossed the finish line in Paddington at 230am on Sunday 5th June, having set off at 6am on Friday 3rd June and running 145 miles!
Hamish took on one of the UK’s toughest endurance challenges – the Grand Union Canal Race – to raise funds for us at Molly Ollys and he raised more than £1500. The towpath route, which started at Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin, took him through his home town of Warwick as he passed through Hatton, before moving on to Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and ending at Little Venice in Paddington.
The former Ferncumbe Primary and King Edward VI School student, who now lives in Fulham, did months of training runs of 100 miles a week, but he says nothing prepared him for how extremely tough it was; “I started to have problems with my legs about halfway through the challenge. At about 11pm, I sat for a break with my parents and I said to them, ‘I’m in real trouble’. I just didn’t think I could carry on, but then my brother, who’d been to see The Killers, turned up and ran with me until about 130am. That gave me a real boost and I carried on.”
One of the best pieces of advice Hamish was given was to take a few 20-minute power naps along the route.
Hamish did just that and he said he fell asleep within two seconds each time; “I’d jump in the front seat of my parents car and literally, would be fast asleep two seconds later. I had very vivid dreams which must have been the sleep deprivation, but the naps kept me going.”
Hamish was followed en route by his parents in a support car, offering food, drink and supplies as well as moral support throughout; “My mum was posting regularly on Facebook and my friends and family were putting up lovely encouraging messages of support which helped to keep me motivated when the going got tough which it really did in the middle of the night. I got to the point where I was running one kilometre, then walking one kilometre, but when I recognised Paddington, I started running as I knew the end was in sight!”
We emotionally support children between 0 and 18 who have life-threatening illnesses. We do that through our Olly The Brave therapeutic soft toy and award-winning books, as well as donating wishes to children who are facing unimaginable challenges. Between 2017 and 2020, we funded Birmingham’s first paediatric palliative consultant as there was no such consultant for the region. That position has now become permanent and is currently funded through the NHS.
Our founder Rachel: “This was such a phenomenal challenge that I stayed awake until I knew Hamish had finished. I was so pleased and relieved to get his message at about 230am. I was bleary-eyed the next day, but that was nothing compared to what Hamish had put his body through. We are so grateful to Hamish for undertaking this gruelling challenge to raise funds for us – every penny will be put to great use helping children with life-threatening illnesses.”
Although Hamish was determined to complete the run in under 35 hours, it didn’t quite go to plan; “I didn’t manage to do the run in the 35 hours I was aiming for, but I am just really proud of myself for completing it and despite saying I’d never do it again, I’m already thinking I might do one again. Watch this space!”
Since we started more than £3 million has been raised to emotionally support children across the UK. Anyone wishing to donate can do so at https://www.mollyolly.co.uk/learn-about-donating/