Jack’s supporting Winston’s Wish at the Manchester Marathon

Jack running

Jack is taking on the Manchester Marathon in support of Winston’s Wish in April. He told us about his reasons for supporting our work, how running helps him and what keeps him motivated to carry on training through the cold winter months.

Tell us about your run for Winston’s Wish

I’m taking on the Manchester Marathon in April 2022 and running has been a huge part of my recovery from grief. I started about 5 years ago, and I got obsessed over lockdown. Once lockdown had lifted, I managed to win the Leeds Running Festival, get 2nd place in the Leeds half marathon and 2nd in the Ilkley half marathon. I couldn’t believe I was finishing in such high places, and then I ran the Manchester marathon in October and finished in 2 hours 38 minutes, I managed to beat half of the elite runners. And with that momentum and excitement, I decided to sign up for the Manchester marathon again in April, but this time for Winston’s Wish. I feel that extra motivation will spur me on run even better, and do the charity proud.

Why have you chosen to support Winston’s Wish?

Child bereavement is something I feel very passionately about. My dad died when I was 14 years old. He died in February 2004 after a short bout of bowel cancer. In front of my young eyes, I saw my big, strong, heroic dad, become unable to stand on his own feet. His skin became yellow and when I came back to see him (I was called back from a school trip to say goodbye), he didn’t even know who I was. I woke up the next day and everything had to go back to normal, I was a boy in a time when boys weren’t really meant to cry in front of people. I didn’t really know how to speak to anyone about it, and I tried so very hard to act like I was happy as I didn’t want to make the most important person in the world to me sad, my mum. The years that followed I coped by suppressing my grief and my dad. I forgot about everything because it hurt so much to remember him, I suppressed his last few days, the happy memories, even the things I used to love doing, I stopped: playing computer games that me and dad used to play together, watching wrestling and just being me in general. It made me self-destruct, I surrounded myself with people that made me feel awful and were the opposite to me, I became unhealthy by drinking too much amongst other things, I didn’t care about myself, how I was treated, and I hadn’t thought about dad in years.

But then I met my partner, and she made me really happy inside and out, we became best friends and I felt like I had found who someone truly supported me without judgement and anger. This happiness led me to start remembering everything, I was happy and I think that meant I was finally able to grieve, ten years later. Everything hit me like a wrecking ball, and I found it really hard. It was like I had closed myself off for so long, that all the emotions and grief came back at once. I remembered seeing him truly ill, I remembered him forgetting who I was, and I felt really guilty about shutting him off. But it took me being happy to accept my grief. I now think of him every single day, and I can smile about him. I can say the word ‘dad’ again, and now I have recently had a son of my own (3 months old), I can tell him about his grandad and be happy about it.

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And that long-winded story is what I believe Winston’s Wish is so important, I never had that support that I felt I could or wanted to talk to growing up, but now I see all the amazing work you do and I want to give back to help wherever I can. It took me to meeting someone so amazing and honest to process my grief, and the more we raise awareness of WW, the more people can meet and talk and process their grief without the years of destruction I faced.

What plans do you have for fundraising?

I have found social media to be great, but I am also a musician and I hope to get a gig together to try and raise money. I have also decided to be really honest about my struggles and tell my story as often as I can (Something I avoided for ten years when I couldn’t even say the word ‘dad’). I also appeared on a parkrun podcast where I spoke about Winston’s Wish, and I want to appear on more podcasts and stuff to try and share an honest story of what I faced.

Jack with medal

How will you tackle your training? Do you have a training plan you will stick to?

I design training plans for myself and others. I have built up so much running knowledge that I want to train even harder this time to get closer to the podium. Since processing my grief, I have found goals and objectives are amazing in life, I spent so long without any aims in life that now I don’t waste a minute trying to make myself a better person and those around me each day.

What do you think will be the most and least enjoyable parts of the experience?

Training through the winter, it’s never easy! I find I get more injuries, the ground is more slippery and it rains a lot more. I also have a 3-month old baby and am getting married in December so I have lots of busy weeks ahead, but those moments in life are also my most enjoyable. My favourite part of the experience is the challenge, running clears my head so much, and races are the best! I love getting as close to the front as I can, and I love fundraising. I will proudly run for Winston’s Wish, and I know that will push me harder during the really tough times in the marathon.

If you would like to sponsor Jack you can do so here.