Sweat – I Belong

An awesome charity event down at Sweat Fitness in Widnes!

Before I document the event lets rewind and go back to where this event was first born. I have been a member of Sweat Fitness gym in Widnes for a few years and the atmosphere and general all round vibe there is pretty awesome. I do personal training with one of the owners, Paul Atkinson, and over the winter I have been doing a bit of running training with Leigh Barber, who also co-owns Sweat.

It was on one of these runs that the idea for this event came about back on a cold January morning during a 6.30am hill interval session up to the Dream Sculpture with Leigh and Luna the Labrador.

Leigh & Luna

We conjured up the idea of a Saturday morning fund raising Sweat Camp session coupled together with a 5k fun run during this cold, early morning run.

It took a while to plan what we wanted from the day and we got this sussed out on yet another training run. This time a 20 miler on a sunny February morning that took Leigh, Luna and I on an epic journey following the Sankey Canal from Widnes through Sankey, Burtonwood, Bold, Sutton Manor and Widnes. The idea of going big on the event with medals, goodies and freebies was cemented, as was an idea of the actual 5k route (our first few kilometres of this route would make up the final 5k charity route).

So after some diary juggling and figuring out when was a feasible date based on peoples availability and my race diary we plumped for 7th April, nice and close to the marathon date of 22nd of April to give me a good fund-raising boost ahead of the big day.

Now all we needed to do was to order the medals and promote the event.

So after setting up a Facebook event, pushing through social media channels the time was approaching for the big day itself. The idea was for people to sign for up via Sweat’s on-line booking system (so we could manage the event safely and get the legal gubbins done properly) then for people to go to my Virgin Money Giving Page with a suggested donation of £10 if they wanted to get a medal and a goody bag.

Sweat would fund the medals and the goody bags etc and give up their time and change there timetable for the event. ALL money raised would go direct to the charity.

In the two weeks leading up to the event the slow sign up rate and the low numbers were a bit of a worry, but we just had to trust Jim Morrison:

“If You Book Them, They Will Come”

So we kept pushing through social media and generally bothering family and friends and slowly the numbers started to creep up and the donations started to come in.

The last few days leading up to the event was for final last minute planning and sorting out, taking delivery of the medals, getting the stuff to go in the goody bags, and planning out the 5K course and sourcing some traffic cones.

Then the big day was upon us. I went down to Sweat early on to head out on the course with traffic cones and signage to indicate start/finish line, tuning points and directions. I met up with Leigh (and Luna) and we headed out to the 5K route, which started just a short walk away from the gym, on the Trans-Pennine trail alongside the Sankey Canal.

We marked out the start line, and Leigh said “I’ll take Luna off the lead and she can run with us”.

So I hit go on the Garmin and we got about 15 meters and Luna decided to jump straight in to the canal! I don’t think see realised it was so deep and she struggled somewhat until Leigh leaned over and fished her out of the drink. Once she safely was back on “dry” land (it was far from dry – the path was rather wet and muddy) I could laugh and we were back off and running towards the 2.5k point.

About 0.75k in I realised I hadn’t started my Garmin after pausing due to Luna’s little swim. Back to the start for me as I let Leigh head up towards the 2.5k turning point with the traffic cone (this wasn’t a ploy so I could avoid carrying the cone, honestly).

So finally after heading back to the start and pressing “Go” on the Garmin I caught up with Leigh and the pooch and we got the 5k course measured out and we got back to the gym just in time to welcome the first participants.

One of these was Maureen from North West Cancer Research. We got some NWCR banners, info and collection boxes etc set up, and Maureen would be a great sport and got stuck right in to the challenge itself.

Our other help turned up in the form of Helen (my ex-running buddy turned weightlifter who was forbidden to join in by Paul!), Kim (Leigh’s wife and also an awesome weightlifter) and Zoey and Lydia, Kim and Leigh’s little girls. Helen and Kim would man reception and sign people in, making sure they had donated and generally organising stuff. Helen also sourced the traffic cones!

Helen the receptionist

Jim Morrison was indeed right, and people flooded through the door. Ahead of the event we was hoping for 25 to 30 people, at the event we had 37 people attend. A great turn out! I was especially happy to see the Myler clan turning up for the event!

So we all got in and ready to go and after a nice little speech from Leigh we were poised ready for the first part of the challenge – the Sweat Bootcamp class.

The main man Paul

This was delivered by Paul Atkinson, the head trainer at Sweat, ably assisted by Leigh and Rachel Spruce (who turned up even with a hangover!). One of the other Sweat trainers, Emma Pitt was on photographer and cheer leading duties – Emma’s enthusiasm is infectious!

Paul has been training me for a few years now, and has pretty much helped me get in top shape a couple of weeks out from the marathon. Really if you’re looking for a PT Paul is your man he’s a top guy and a half decent trainer (or is that the other way around?)  (There, I was nice about him!).

Sweat 2

It was great seeing Sweat filled to the rafters and people enjoying (or enduring) the boot camp style exercise class.  The atmosphere was ace and the place was buzzing. The 45 minutes for the class flew by.

We then had a big team photo (the featured image at the top of the page) before now heading out in the near torrential rain down to the canal. The route was along a local beauty spot following the canal up past Fiddler’s Ferry Power Station (real beautiful) before turning back on ourselves and coming back to the finish line via Widnes’ answer to The Angel of the North – “The Future Flower” – there where at least some good views of the new Mersey Gateway Bridge.

Run start

We all gathered near the start line then we were off. The fastest person at Sweat is Shaz, she won the Warrington 5 mile cross country a couple of weeks previous and she was out like a shot and no one could catch her – I think she broke 21 minutes for the 5k. I was happy with getting 23.59 (it was the second time I’d ran that route this morning so I was pretty happy with under 24 mins).

It was very wet, very muddy and there were some super big puddles. It was great seeing friends, family and strangers out enjoying the event and getting stuck in to this 5k in some pretty terrible conditions.  Some big shout outs for my nephews Liam and James who done awesome on the run. And a special thanks to Emma who took up the tail running duties and helped everyone along.

Once the run was done we headed back up to Sweat to get warm and dry, pick up our medals and goody bags (ably handed out by Leigh’s daughters) and cheer everyone else back in through the door.

The Mylers.jpg
The Mylers

Then some photo op time when everyone one got back. The Myler clan got a good family photo with our Sweat medals. Then we got some good photos with Paul and Leigh from Sweat and the brilliant Maureen from North West Cancer Research who got really stuck in to the event.


NWCR & Sweat 2

NWCR & Sweat 1

In total we raised £480 from the day from 37 people attending. The day was an incredible success and I’m humbled and extremely grateful for the support.

Special thanks really goes to Paul and Leigh for putting the event on and funding medals, goodies etc and to Emma & Rachel for mucking in.  Thanks also to Helen and Kim for giving up their time and helping out on the day.

And of course a massive thank you to everyone who turned up on the day and donated. Your support really does mean so so much.

Sweat’s tag line is “I Belong” and as I wander in to overly cheesy and schmaltzy territory here (pass the sick bucket) there is honestly a real sense of belonging at Sweat and it really is like one big family here and I think this showed it big time here today!

Thanks ya’ll!

Peace and Love.

PS You can sponsor me at:

VMG Logo


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