Nick at Wolverhampton Wanderers football ground

And I Will Run 100 Miles

At the end of last year, I set myself the task of running 100 miles in a single month. Physically unfit with a never-ending appetite for chocolate and wine, it was going to be one of the toughest challenges I’d ever undertake.

The challenge was part of my application to WPR’s Live Free Fund. And, in all honesty, I didn’t really think I’d have to commit to completing it until I received a call from Jane, WPR’s managing director, to say that I was one of the incredibly lucky Live Free Fund recipients.

Now, for many, running 100 miles in Birmingham isn’t exactly a life-enriching experience, so why was it part of my application?  

Sadly, in May 2020, as I celebrated my partner’s lockdown birthday on Zoom, I unexpectedly lost Becca, one of my closest friends. At first, I didn’t grieve. In fact, I took up running again as I enjoyed my daily exercise during lockdown.

Ten months later, I realised that I hadn’t processed the loss of my friend or grieved properly. As her birthday approached, I connected my sleepless nights and anxiety with the fact I hadn’t come to terms with Becca’s untimely death. I never thought I’d lose someone so close to me in my twenties, and was completely taken back by the impact it had on my daily life.

On the recommendation of a colleague, I turned to Calm. The app’s sleep stories, and The Nordland Night Train by Erik Braa in particular, allowed me to escape my troubles and dream positively again. I must have listened to the podcast for around 50 nights in the year that followed my friend’s death, and it sparked a new dream to experience the train route for myself at Christmas.

Nick and Becca

My travel and accommodation is all booked. But before I go on this literal journey that is so intrinsically linked to my emotional journey with grief, I wanted do something that would challenge me physically. In lockdown, I’d used running as an escape from grief and the plan to run 100 miles in a single month is undoubtedly pushing me out of my comfort zone and back to a level of fitness I haven’t experienced since those early days of the pandemic.

Crucially, the running challenge also allows me to raise money for charity. I’m fundraising for Winston’s Wish – a support line for bereaved children that helps young people manage and understand grief. When Becca was 16, her twin brother tragically passed away, and I saw the impact this had on her life. I’m hoping to raise £1,000 and, given her personal struggles with grief, I think Becca would have approved of such a fantastic cause.

I’ll be completing my running challenge in October – I’ll keep everyone up to date on my LinkedIn page – before I travel to Norway this Christmas for the second part of this life-enriching experience. Wish me luck!

About WPR’s Live Free Fund

The Live Free Fund was established in 2021 in memory of much-loved colleague Zara Free.

Inspired by Zara’s passion for living life to the full, the Live Free Fund exists to make life-enriching experiences possible for members of the WPR team, creating opportunities for them to to broaden their horizons and grow as individuals.

Whether gaining a new skill or qualification, or making a once-in-a-lifetime trip across the world, the Live Free Fund encourages people to embrace things outside their comfort zones, keeping Zara’s spirit of curiosity and adventure alive at WPR.