Chris Salmon & STING’s Lucky 13!

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Chris Salmon, a dedicated young man from Staffordshire, is taking on STING’S Lucky 13 challenge by attempting to run 13 half marathons in 13 weeks in under 1300 minutes to raise money for local charity STING – Staffordshire’s Therapeutic Independent Neurological Group.

Chris, 28, is a Stock & Systems Analyst at Wincanton – the Staffordshire logistics company which distributes deliveries for Screwfix throughout the country.

Last year in April, Wincanton chose to support STING as its Charity of the Year and so far over £14,000 has been raised through a range of fundraising activities.

STING works to support anybody in the area with a neurological condition, which includes multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and many other conditions.

Chris Salmon’s half marathon challenge started in Blackpool in February at the Great North West Half, and the conditions on the day were not at all suited for the enormity of the task that Chris was about to take on over the coming 13 weekends!

For his first event, Chris was running with a colleague from Wincanton, fellow running veteran Tony Hill, and the two local runners faced both gale force winds of up to 60 mph and being drenched by heavy waves crashing over them as they pounded along the seafront at Blackpool on Sunday.

Chris and Tony, work mates from Wincanton’s Distribution Centre for Screwfix in Stafford, were among the 1334 runners or so who competed in the event in the treacherous conditions along the Fylde Coast. Despite having a wonderful sea view along the coastal route of the event, parts of the wind and rain affected course were made even more hazardous by slippery rocky paths and rough terrain. And with the heavy gales in their faces along much of the route, completion of the course – let alone achieving a personal best time – was at risk!
However, Chris (1hr 45mins placed 237) and Tony (1hr 48mins placed 299) battled bravely to finish the event in the worst conditions that either had ever competed in!

The following weekend at The Decathlon Coventry Half, Chris was running without the company of Tony, though the conditions were far more runner-friendly as 4212 competitors lined up for the start in Millennium Place. Roads were closed in the City Centre to ensure a traffic-free road race in the heart of Coventry. Runners started alongside the Transport Museum and followed a loop of the City Centre, before a gradual climb out of the City towards Radford and through Allesley. The course ran through beautiful countryside beyond, until the final section of the route took runners downhill and back into the City Centre to where they started in Millennium Place.

Local residents and supporters turned out in their thousands to support the runners, who were made up of both club runners and individuals running either to raise money for charities, to keep fit, or purely for fun and personal satisfaction. The event was well organised by the race organisers, and seemed to be enjoyed (or at least appreciated!) by the runners.

However, Chris suffered problems around mile 6 of the hilly route when his trainers started to come apart – no doubt an after-effect of the exertions of the previous weekend’s sodden conditions in Blackpool! After track side repairs, he skilfully managed to keep them on his feet to finish in an impressive 856th place out of the 4212 competitors, and in a time of 1 hour 41 minutes. Despite his footwear issues, this was only one minute outside of his individual race target of an average of 100 minutes for each event. Hopefully a new pair of running shoes would put him back on track at the next run in Wrexham.

As Chris was 6 minutes behind his target of finishing all his events in an average of under 100 minutes, the run in Wrexham had looked as though it would bring him back on track. Initially all seemed positive with good weather forecast. However, despite a sunny start in the town centre of Wrexham, things took a turn for the worse over the next 13.1 miles.

Although bright along the course, the temperature was very chilly to run in, only reaching a 2°C high along the whole half marathon. The area was also very busy, as the event was part of the Wrexham Marathon Festival which included a full marathon, half marathon and (for the first time) a 20 mile event. This was as well as a fun run for families and younger runners. Despite all these events happening on the same day, many roads on the course had not been closed, and around mile 5 Chris was faced with an on-coming Land Rover rounding a bend and bearing down on him!

Shortly after this near miss, the snow started to fall around mile 8 to add to the misery of the low temperatures and, for the run back in to the town centre, Chris encountered the hilliest few miles on a course that he had come across in over 6 years of road running!

Despite these conditions, which obviously affected all 280 runners in the event, Chris finished in 70th place in a time of 1 hours 42 minutes. Unfortunately, this was still a couple of minutes outside his target, and he’s hoping that the flatter courses of his forthcoming events will help to put him back on course for his time target.
Consequently, the relative flat course around & inside the Silverstone Formula 1 circuit was one that could put Chris back on course, and a brighter day met him as he lined up to start the event amongst the 6712 starters.
The day had started off foggy and cold for most of the morning, but the sun came out about half an hour before the start.

The course itself was well suited for the event, being flat with no unnecessary sharp turns. There were some very open areas with no supporters in parts, but where there was support it was very enthusiastic & welcoming.
Chris was overtaken by Batman and Mario in the last 2 miles – but which runner amongst us hasn’t been overtaken by a Womble or similar creation?!?!

Although coming in at 1005th out of 6712 runners Chris finished at 1:41, which was still slightly over target. However Chris is still confident of completing the 13 runs within his 1300 minute target.

Anyone wanting to sponsor Chris can visit localgiving.com and pledge an amount on his ‘STING’s Lucky 13’ link. Alternatively, text ‘HALF13 £10’ to 70070 to make a £10 donation.

For further details of Chris’s ambitious challenge, or to find more information about the STING’s work in the community, contact Peter Marenghi on 07736-522474 or on petermarenghi@hotmail.co.uk.