Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The final pack list

Running stuff

Spare top, legs, socks, undies, run bra, 2 caps, 2 hair band things, 4 socks, 6 hand made limb warmers, disposable poncho, disposable silver foil warmer, Camelbak, bum bag, arm holder thing

Still to pack: running top, little back pack for holding in luggage

Misc and logs

8 safety pins, plastic bag for shoes, small tape for labelling bags, cable ties, lacky bands, adhesive labels, 2 marker pens, 2 books, Athens guide, maps, greek phrase book, 2(??) mindless books to read when stressed, torch for reading when insomnia hits, spork x2, swiss army knife, aussie tattoos, stickers, clip on koalas, euros, spare wallet, lots of credit cards


Massage gels, Rescue cream, Rescue remedy, 1 compeed blister plaster, 2 blister packs, toothbrush, tooth pasge, 19 ibruprofen, nail file, moisturiser, relaxing bath gel, amoxicillian x 4, razor, sachets of shower gel, hair brush, shampoo, lacky bands, hair clips, plastic airport bags, sachet of sunscreen (2), Vaseline (2), anti chaffing gel (sachet), wet wipes, glide, vitamins (multi, fish oil, bone bilding stuff), nuun hydration tablets, sports beans x 2, gels x 8, arnica spray, tea tree oil, rescue remedy balm, arnica cream

Still to pack: plasters? Deodorant, ventolin and becotide, nail clippers, massage stick?? Yellow ball?? Chia seeds, limes, stretch cord


Samsung charger Europe, nokia charger, 2 euro adaptors

Still to pack: camera, batteries, mobile phone, ipod shuffle, nike sport band

Undecided: ipod nano, heart rate monitor

Other clothes

Trackie pants, sunnies, jeans, denim skirt, one nice top, black long sleeved top, 4 gaudy tshirts themed on running or Australia, bathers, Aussie scarf, spare Saucony,

Still to pack: vibram 5 fingers

Let the carb loading begin

Last year, my special diet consisted of eating pasta the night before. I consequently bonked at 35km and struggled to finish.

This time, I have learned that I need to carb load for four days. Yes reduce my diet to carbs for four whole days! Today is day one and the ingredients are:

2 bowls of cereal
potato salad
jacket potato
pasta / rice salad
fruit loaf 4 slices
bananas 2
nuts - all day
carb drinks 2

And this is the easy day...

Sunday, 24 October 2010

A walk in the park

No I haven't got to that stage where I think any run is a walk in the park, that's just what I did after my 10km run. A walk in some woods anyway.

That said I guess running 10km shouldn't be a massive deal after running 20 mile but I did whimper a bit in the first 5km and I did actually get so hungry that I willingly consumed one of the eight gels I was carrying for practice in a bumbag.

The shiny new Nike sportsband tells me I ran 10km in one hour. It's a goal to run in 59 minutes. I regret deeply not turning the timer off at the long traffic lights...

Press release: East London charity runs historic Athens marahton

For immediate release


East London community needs will have their profile raised this weekend when a Tower Hamlets office worker takes to the hills of the 2500th Athens Classic Marathon event to raise funds for the East London Community Foundation charity.

The East London Community Foundation (ELCF) is a grant-giving organisation that works to provide small amounts of money to grassroots organisations in Barking & Dagenham, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.

Local office worker Rowena Harding, 35, was inspired to run for the Foundation as a result of the budget cuts that she felt would have an effect on local people.

"Over the years I have supported big national charities but this year I wanted to feel closer to the causes I am running for, especially after the drastic budget cuts which will make life harder for so many East London residents. I work and volunteer in Tower Hamlets and have lived in Waltham Forest so I have seen firsthand that there is so much that can be done on a small scale at local level that will have a knock on effect and long term impact that far outweighs the size of the donation that these organisations and activities run on."

The marathon, which takes place on October 31, traces the original 26.2 mile route from Marathon to Athens, as run by a solider Pheidippides to announce Greek's victory over Persia in the battle of Marathon in 490BC. The foot solider ran the distance, announced victory, and then died from exhaustion.

“This is going to be a tough run,” said Harding, “because of the hills and the threat of warmer temperatures. This is the same marathon that Paula Radcliffe stopped by the road side and cried. I hope I don’t end up like that and most of all, I hope I don’t finish like Pheidippides!”

Rowena is challenging East London's high profile and wealthy businesses to join in her marathon effort on her return by organising an office fundraiser. ELCF Director Anja Beinroth says this is a fantastic opportunity for local businesses to give back to the community. "East and North East London is the most exciting part of London: it is the site of the largest regeneration programme in Europe, including the planning and construction projects linked to the Thames Gateway, the Olympics, the extension of the M11- Cambridge corridor, Crossrail, the extension of the DLR, and the new international terminal for Eurostar at Stratford. Yet the area is marked by deprivation: Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Haringey, Barking & Dagenham and Waltham Forest are all within the 28% most deprived areas in the country, and parts of Redbridge and Havering experience similar but unrecognised levels. This is where local community activity can make such a huge difference."

Rowena is hoping that staff in locally based big businesses such as Royal Bank of Scotland, Nomura and Aon will consider wearing their gym kit in the office for the duration it took her to complete the marathon, and contribution a donation or "penalty fine" as a result. Businesses interested in taking part can visit


Notes to the Editor:

1. For more information on ELCF or for case studies of the charity’s work contact: Anja Beinroth (Acting Director) on 0300 303 1203 or e-mail .

2. To speak to Rowena contact: 07985 198 770

3. To donate visit

4. Community foundations are experts in revitalising local communities through effective charitable giving. Over the last 16 years well over 15,000 private sector donors have used the services of a community foundation to ensure that their giving has been invested to make the lasting difference that they want to see. Community foundations now manage over to £250m of committed endowed giving and it is estimated that most people in London will live or work within 2 miles of a charitable project that a community foundation has supported.

5. East London Community Foundation, a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee, works with donors who can be companies, individuals or organisations such as private charities and faith groups for example, to promote local giving to support local community and voluntary groups.

6. A grant-maker in Barking & Dagenham, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest and the City of London, the Foundation is working to establish a range of charitable funds to meet the needs of its local communities.

7. This year the Foundation will make approximately 150 grants totalling approx. £0.5m to local community and voluntary groups. Over the next 3 years the Foundation is aiming to develop endowed funds with a value of over £1m by working with donors who appreciate that by preserving the capital value of their gift and using the annual income for grant making a permanent community fund can be built which will support local voluntary action for ever.

8. Under the Grassroots Endowment Match Challenge, an individual’s donation of £10,000 could become a personally named fund worth more than £25,000, which will support local community needs in perpetuity. For Higher Rate taxpayers, the net cost of such a donation will be £7,500 or less. The donations of local business and other organisations can also be doubled.

9. For more information please go to:

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Get out yer dodgy gym kit fundraiser

We've all got a secret drawer of lycra or a sports bag full of terry towelling. Now is the chance to actually get some mileage out of the dodgy gym kit you've bought over the years all in the name of charity.

Once the marathon is over, commit your organisation to a fundraising day where staff wear their dodgy gym kit for the same time it took for me to complete the marathon.

You get the uncomfortable realisation of how long the marathon is, while giving those long-forgotten leg warmers or Pat Cash style headband the most use it's had for years.

Those who don't come in gym slips donate a minimum of a fiver, those who make an effort reduce their donation to the price of a pint.

I'll even offer to come to your workplace and lead a stretch session in my old lycra ninja outfit.

And we all get to laugh at the pics afterwards.

More information about how to run this fundraising event will be posted in due course, so either sign up to the RSS feed, email me to register your interest, download a poster to get your office in the mood or visit the donations page.

Get the look: dodgy gym kit elite wear

Friday, 22 October 2010

Logistics nightmare

There's something to be said for doing a home marathon. You know how to get there, you speak the language, and your favourite fluffy toy or tshirt is around if that's what you need hours before the start line.

The realities of an overseas marathon are a bit more stressful. I've learned how to write asthma in Greek, have a laminated tag on my shoelace saying "salt, water, sugar, ambulance". I've worked out how to get round the train strike, and to get from the finish line to the hotel, but not from the airport to anywhere.

There's an airport muzak playlist needed, then a "I can't sleep the night before playlist", a meditation playlist, a running playlist...

I have to battle with the iron to get my name on my tshirt. In Greek and in English. It doesn't help that I broke the iron last week. It does help that Rowena in Greek is Pobena.

And then there's the suitcase. Not wanting to spend the day before dodging striking staff members and translating hayfever, my baggage contains:
  • spare running kit.
  • tshirts that you would only wear at a marathon (big oversize American style running slogans)
  • massage oil, arnica gel, deep heat, massage sticks, strange foot toys, belt for reaching hamstrings, vaseline
  • a handful of ibubrofen, immodium and various other tablets for any imaginable ailment
  • comfort food
  • an array of electrical gadgets, chargers, ipods, phones, heart rate monitors, running chips, adaptors and batteries.
You get the idea...

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Little charity: big gains

I'm so excited to be running for East London Community Foundation this year. It appeals to the social entrepreneur in me to give to a grant giving organisation that supports grassroots activities. It's also an absolute joy and challenge to work with a charity that doesn't have a special marathon fundraising team or infact any special fundraising team and get made to feel like they really value what I am doing.

Currently, the director, who probably has very important things to do, is still making sure the charity gets on an online giving website for me. I knew some of these online giving sites took a lot of fees and upfront payments from charities but I was shocked to learn quite how much. So ELCF are making sure they get the best long term deal for the charity, which is a nice reinforcement that they don't throw away a penny.

I was very disappointed with some of the big charities who didn't reply to my requests for information over the last six months. I think ELCF could make a few bob training some of those charities about how to make a supporter feel valued! But seriously, if I ever felt like the pressure was on, it's now, fundraising for a target of £1500 for a foundation I really believe in and that I think is very important for the future. No one has asked me to do it and no one has set the limit. But I figure if I can run 26.2 miles and I'm not a runner, surely I can get £1500 out of people who might not normally give to this charity...

Sunday, 10 October 2010

This will be my only boast

In the marathon, anything does and will happen. If it’s not nerves, it’s the sheer volume of running with thousands of people, in a different country, in a different place. Lots of things you can’t control. So yesterday, I ran my only little event: the Rowena Harding 20 miler. Last year this was a really important distance. I ran with a cycling support crew and I ran and I ran. We expected me to fall over – after all, that time last year, I was registered in a marathon as a walker. But I kept running and we both looked very surprised when I got back home in one piece.

So this year, I decided to celebrate the 20. It was something I could control, on a route I knew, just me and African running dogs at the canal. Of course, what I didn’t bank on was food poisoning the day before, and spending much of the preceding morning with my head in a bucket. Oh well, the show had to go on and I went for the 20.

I whinged at 3km, I cried at 3 miles. I had a right paddy under the West London fly over. And there was a shouting and screaming fit at Little Venice. I figured as long as I kept my legs turning over it would be ok. And soon 7 miles came round and I felt a little better, got into a rhythm, got lost in Islington, kept the legs turning over and found myself in Hackney. Hackney! Hackney is a destination – not somewhere you stumble into from Willesden Green. Once I had passed my third uber trendy grungy canalside cafe I knew I had to go back west. And with a little whimper of joy at the 11 mile mark, I did just that, turned around and did it all again.

I finished in 3hrs 46. I was pleased just to finish. The next day, I realised that I had completed the last long run, and that nothing but my own mental demons and an unfortunate but unlikely accident with someone dropping a suitcase on me, was going to stop me from taking the start line in Athens. I sent text messages to my physio, osteo, pilates guru to say thank you for all her help and choked back a little emotion and whispered myself a little “bravo.”

On your marks...