On Sunday 1st March, one of the UK’s most popular city running events is taking place – the Bath Half Marathon. With thousands of runners taking part, and thousands more spectators lining the streets and cheering them on, the city is literally buzzing with atmosphere and excitement on ‘BathHalf Day’.
Every year, I stand by the barrier near the Holburne Museum soaking up the atmosphere and cheering on the runners. Come rain or shine (and especially when it’s freezing cold and rainy like last year!) me & Lil’ L are determined to stay right until the last of the runners finish their epic journey. I especially feel for those that have been on the course of hours. I can see in their faces how much they’re hurting when they turn that final corner and head onto Great Pultney Street. Hurting, but totally euphoric. We encourage them onwards by shouting that they’ve only got a few more metres to go. What an incredible sense of achievement they must feel!
In all the years I’ve supported the Bath Half runners, not once have I wished to be running with them. If anything, I feel a sense of relief when I see their faces on the final corner, glad that I’m not going through the agony with them.
But this year, things are going to be a little different as I’m hopping over the spectator barrier to join the 15,000 runners. Even as I type this I can’t quite believe this is happening! The longest I’ve ever run before is 10K so running double the distance seems unimaginable right now. It’s going to be tough. It’s going to hurt a lot. BUT, it’s all going to be worth it as I’m running to raise money for an amazing charity ♥
The Bath-based charity, Mercy in Action, was founded in 1995 by John and Allison Todd, following an unexpected encounter with five street boys during a trip to the Philippines. The boys hadn’t eaten for three days and were begging on the streets. Moved by the plight of children the same age as their son, John and Allison took them for a meal.
“Within the 30 minutes it took us to order the food and the boys to eat it, we both knew we couldn’t walk away from them, and so the seeds were sown for what has grown into a charity which to date has helped thousands of children and their families.” John Todd
Mercy in Action is involved in numerous projects to help the poorest of the poor in the Philippines, and street children are at the very heart of what they do. The following are just a few examples of the valuable work that the charity does to support these vulnerable children:
Street LIFE Projects
Mercy in Action runs a ‘Drop in’ where street children are able to shower, wash their clothes, and have a hot lunch every day. Social workers support the children and ensure they get medical attention if needed; a teacher provides lessons tailored to the children’s various abilities; and global volunteers assist with the lessons and plan fun activities for the children including crafts, sports and a weekly outing.
“The drop-in was challenging to see; children from about the age of 7 living on the streets. We were struck by the size of the children. 14 year olds looked like 7 year olds, as a result of stunted growth due to poor, or at times non-existent, diets before Mercy in Action started working in that area […] The children were still amazingly positive, despite living on the street or in slums. They loved doing arts and craft activities and would try hard in the hours of teaching each day. Perhaps what sticks out most was that despite their conditions, despite they were standing in a ripped t-shirt often with nothing else on, when they got some food they would share it around and even offer it to us before themselves – such amazing, heartbreaking kindness, happiness, hope and generosity”. Volunteers’ Reflections on the Drop In
Mercy in Action also runs a community centre with a range of after school clubs and organised activities. Many of the children that attend the centre live in slum houses with only one room and no electricity, which makes studying very difficult. A new library and study area has been set up in the centre to help support the children and enable them to excel in their studies.
Through Mercy in Action, over 400 children are currently sponsored to attend school. Click here to find out more about sponsoring a child.
The first of three family houses and a community centre housing a canteen, meeting place and volunteer accommodation have been constructed on a purpose built site. A routine of school, play, good nutritious food and loving carers brings about radical and lasting changes in the majority of youngsters – even the most damaged and vulnerable. The remaining houses will be built as soon as finances allow.
The Boys Home
In September 2012, Mercy in Action was able to rent an additional house near Spring Village and moved four street boys that they had been working with for five years into the new house. They were aged between 8-17, and all had drug addictions. The boys are all thriving in the home, and have been joined by four more. They are all off drugs, in regular education and flourishing with the help of loving house parents and counselling. The older boys volunteer on Mercy in Action projects, and are great role models to boys who are still on the streets.
Through a partnership between International Justice Mission (IJM) and Mercy in Action, the first rescue home solely for male victims of trafficking in the whole of the Philippines has been set up called Chelo’s House.
The key to seeing lasting change in the lives of the children they work with is to support the communities in which they live. Recognising this, Mercy in Action sets up tailor-made programmes to meet the needs of individual communities. In the mountain village of Tapul where absolute poverty was preventing many children from attending school, Mercy in Action replanted an area of previously logged forest and gave ten fruit trees to each family to care for. When mature, the fruit will provide a much needed income. Until then the children on the programme receive a hot, nutritious meal each day, as well as having all their schooling needs met. The parents have taken responsibility for maintaining this innovative project.
Mercy in Action recently received a grant for a small business fund. With this money they bought a fridge and other supplies to start an ice candy business. Some of the mums from a weekly support group called ‘Source’ get together once a week and make batches of ice candy. They then sell it in their local communities and give half of the money to Mercy in Action to continue the business and the rest they use to feed their families.
Several of the ‘Source’ mums have been on jewellery making courses provided by Mercy in Action. They then make beautiful necklaces and bracelets that are sent to England and sold in the charity shops. The women receive a fair wage for their work and all other profits are put back into projects with street children.
Mercy in Action is committed to helping families realise their dream of living in a home of their own. Small native houses are quick to build and relatively cheap, yet offer stability and hope that can pave the way to a happy, healthy family unit. Over the years the charity has been able to provide more than 50 homes.
And much, much more!
You can find out more information about this wonderful charity on their website, as well as details of how you can support them or even become a global volunteer!
Fundraising for Mercy in Action
So next Sunday I’ll be lacing up my running shoes, gritting my teeth, and heading out on that 13.1 mile run round Bath in order to raise as much money as I can for Mercy in Action. I’ve pledged to raise a minimum of £175.
If anyone would like to sponsor me, any donations, whatever the amount, will be so gratefully received. Just think, if everyone who read this post donated £2, I’d easily smash my target!
As a small token of my gratitude, I’m going to enter all the sponsors into a prize draw to win a gift box of 6 hand-made chocolates (or a gift box of my favourite non-melty goodies if you’re currently enjoying summer in the southern hemisphere!) Three winners will be selected on March 6th and notified by email.
Thank you SO much for your support. It means the world to me and Mercy in Action ♥ xx
15 thoughts on “Bath Half Marathon 2015 and Mercy In Action”
Wowzers! I’ll be cheering you on in spirit, but wish I could be there in the crowd! Just think what an amazing achievement it will be once completed, I’m so proud of you for putting yourself through this and for such an amazing heart felt charity. I wish you all the very best of luck and I’ll be thinking of you for sure. I can’t wait to hear how you got on :o) x
Thank you so much Jasmine for your kind words ♥ Means a lot to me. I still can’t believe I’m actually going to be running 13.1 miles (well, hopefully I’ll get round!) but all the support everyone’s given me here and on Twitter is really spurring me on xx
p.s. I hope you’re still enjoying running! After this half I’m definitely going back to my shorter runs – I find running for 30 mins far more enjoyable than 1-2 hours!
Great cause. Good luck!
Thanks Lauren! I’ve been taking on board tips from your running posts & tweets including the risks of running in worn out trainers! ‘M’ treated me to a new pair for Valentine’s Day. Best Valentine’s pressie ever! 😀
What a great cause to support, Sharon, and a half marathon is no easy task!! You’re incredible!! I am being challenged currently by the Couch to 5k running program….a 1/2 marathon is just a far off dream at this point!! My boyfriend once ran a marathon, and I got to cheer on all the runners near the finish, as you and Lil L do, and it’s so cool to be a part of that.
I see you have already met your goal, too!! Wahooo!!! I’m really looking forward to hearing about your experience after the run! xx
Oh my gosh THANK YOU SO MUCH for sponsoring me & helping me smash my target! You’re a total star! ♥
Running a half is a far off dream for me too lol! Hopefully I’ll be able to pull it off on Sunday… even if I end up hobbling round the last few miles 😉
Love the sound of the Couch to 5k program! I read about a similar program in Matt Frazier’s No Meat Athlete book, which I love!
Good luck- me and hubby ran our first half last October and it was the best thing we ever did! can’t wait for the next one- been keeping up the long distances ever since so that it’s easier next time. Seeing the elite athletes run it so easily always spurs you on! And fantastic to run for charity- we raised money for the Vegan Society last time. You’re going to feel great afterwards and realise there are so many other amazing things you can do if you want! 🙂
Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. I was starting to feel a bit terrified about the event but after reading your comments, I’m actually starting to feel pretty excited! I’ve never taken part in an event this size before but people keep telling me not to underestimate how much the atmosphere and crowds will spur me on. It’s likely to be the one & only half I ever do, so I’m going to make the most of it! 😀 xx
Best wishes to you!
Thank you so much for your best wishes & all the tips you’ve given me on Twitter. I really appreciate it! xx
I hope the run went well Sharon! Well done for taking part xo
I’m so excited for you Sharon! And I will definitely donate – look out for it coming through tonight after work or tomorrow 🙂 I will be thinking of you and cheering you on from afar. Good luck!
Oh wow that’s so kind of you Kari! Thank you SO MUCH for sponsoring me & your words of encouragement. Really means a lot to me. I’ll be thinking of you too on Sunday xx
I can’t believe the big event is taking place very soon…I’m so excited for you both! Wishing you and Lil’L a lovely time there and a big cheers to you in the marathon! I am very touched by your contribution to this beautiful cause…Go Sharon!!!!
Thank you gorgeous girl 😀 I’m getting butterflies in my tummy every time I think about Sunday but hopefully I’ll make it to the finish line. Fingers crossed! xx