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Why I am running for Haven House

Why am I running 2020 London Marathon for Haven House? Well, my lovely Mum-in-Law, Sue Irwin founded Haven House. Even though Sue is sadly no longer with us, my family are so proud of the hospice, and the incredible work they do. I’m doing this for Sue’s legacy, but most importantly to ensure Haven House can continue to help as many children and their families as possible.


Running for Haven House is a huge privilege, but now comes the reality… the training! I live by the sea and run a few times a week. But that isn’t enough and realising the enormity of running 26 miles next April, I’ve admitted I need help and have joined my local running club, New Forest Runners. On Sundays we get together to do long runs. My first was 10 miles of running across the beautiful New Forest. I loved it and I did the distance without trouble.


Perhaps I got a bit cocky, so I booked the Bournemouth Half Marathon this year in good spirits, what’s 13 miles? But training sees some disastrous longer runs, with illness, blisters and sheer exhaustion that knock me and made me question how I’ll run a full marathon.


On the day of the Bournemouth Half, my friend, Heather, aka ‘speedy’ plods patiently beside me, offering words of encouragement. I’d like to be able to speak but can only grunt, this is the hardest run I’ve ever done. When we get to mile 11 it falls apart. You hear about hitting a wall, but it’s never happened to me – until this time. I slow to a walk, so cross with myself but unable to run anymore.


It’s the thought of my two sons faces that keeps me going for the last two miles. I want them to see me finish strong, so I start to run again. As I cross the finish line, it’s hard not to cry. Yes, I had a to walk a little bit, but I’ve just run 13.1 miles. It’s the first hurdle in proving to myself I can do a full marathon.


For me the marathon is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and the chance to do something amazing, for a very special charity. So, the next step is trying to run London 2020 in a decent time (for me!). I’m aiming for 4 hrs 30 – I’ve got some training to do! What are you aiming for?


If you’re thinking about which charity you’d like to run for, I can’t think of a better cause than Haven House. They receive very little government support, relying on supporters to help with over 78% of their funding. There is always more to do, and you, like me could help make a real difference to these children and their families. If that means 26 miles of pain, then count me in!


Here’s just a brief look at the amazing work they do LINK


Ellie Irwin, October 2019



New Year, New Adventures

2018… What a year for challenge events at Haven House! Our 15th Birthday year saw an incredible number of supporters get muddy, sweaty and drenched in a whole host of runs, cycles, swims and treks to raise vital funds for local hospice care. It was the hottest Virgin Money London Marathon to date and most likely the rainiest Royal Parks Half Marathon, but our fantastic #HavenHouseHeroes overcame it all to complete some incredible challenges! From climbing Ben Nevis and trekking the Himalayas, pedalling to Paris and jumping out of a plane, to taking on an IronMan and a Cornish Coastal walking challenge, our supporters did it all. A total of 7,063.8 miles were covered collectively (wow!) which is the equivalent of travelling from Haven House to Hawaii... Aloha! And most amazing of all, over £150,000 was raised between every individual who took part in a challenge event during 2018 – we are so grateful for this fantastic support and inspired by the dedication of each supporter.


2019… Another year, another crazy selection of challenges that our supporters can get stuck into. We’re super excited to launch our new #PurplePack – every supporter that takes on a challenge event for Haven House in 2019 and beyond will join our #PurplePack, our team of Haven House Heroes.

If you’re looking to kickstart the New Year with an adrenaline-fuelled event, we have plenty to whet your appetite with… Perhaps braving the cold at our Ice Plunge on Sunday 10 February will inspire you? Or if heights are your thing, we have three epic challenges on offer. We start on Saturday 13 April in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where you can take on the Orbit Abseil from a height of 114 metres and have a view across the capital. Or if you’re really looking for a thrill, you can’t beat a Skydive, jumping out of a plane from 13,000 feet in the sky, or a Wing Walk, experiencing the freedom of flying whilst standing on the wing of a plane! Perhaps it’s time to treat a loved one to a ‘Blue Monday’ gift they’ll never forget/forgive you for…

Maybe you would prefer to push your limits through distance rather than heights, and if so, our brand new virtual event Move with our Nurses could be just the ticket. We challenge you to use the 31 days of January to complete either 100 miles, 160km or 200,000 steps – have you got what it takes? Each month, our Haven House nurses cover over 100 miles on average to deliver vital care and services at the hospice and in the local community. Complete the distance through a combination of activities (run, walk, cycle, dance, swim, hop…!) and you can even break up the challenge and dare friends, families or colleagues to compete as a relay team.

For you runners, there’s quite a selection box. In fact, if races were chocolate bars, then the Brighton Marathon in April would be a tin of Celebrations. There’s a lot to get through (A whole tin to be precise), there’s some tough bits that might not be your cup of tea (Bounty anyone?), but there’s some amazing parts like crossing the Finish Line and celebrating on the beach (Fancy a Malteser?). It’s a rollercoaster of emotions (and flavours), but worth every step. If you’re looking for a 26.2 in 2019, then Brighton is definitely one to consider.

But if you fancy something a little less rich, there’s a lot more left in the box. There’s the Vitality 10,000 on Monday 27 May, which is the cheeky bag of Minstrels that you can always squeeze in. Who hasn’t got space for a Bank Holiday 10k? Then there’s the classic, the Mars bar of races, the Royal Parks Half Marathon on Sunday 13 October. With plenty of time to train, this Autumnal run through the best of London’s parks is definitely one not to be missed. And finally, there’s our very own Chasing Pumpkin 10k, the Snickers bar some might say. A bit bumpy and muddy at times, this trail run in October 2019 through Epping Forest is a pumpkin-themed run with more treats than tricks.

If you’re cycle mad, we’ve got some super challenges to get your wheels turning. You can’t go wrong with the London to Brighton Cycle on Sunday 15 September. The 54 miles will take you from the city, through the countryside to finish on the coast. Take it on as a team or a personal pedal, grab your helmet and end the summer on a high! Unless you fancy a trip across the channel, then the London to Paris Cycle could really fill the bill. With multiple dates available in 2019, experience your very own yellow jersey moment as you finish on the Champs-d’Elysees after 4 days in the saddle. C’est la vie!  

But if nothing is tickling your fancy so far, we have partnered with Discover Adventure and Ultra Challenge to offer an array of challenges just for you! You pick an event, a date and a sponsorship target, and you’re ready to go on your next adventure. Whether it’s the Paris to Nice Cycle, a Thames Path trek, Jurassic Coast challenge, Icelandic Lava trek or climbing Kilimanjaro, you can find your perfect match.

And don’t forget if you want to catch up and talk through any challenge event ideas (or question why you possibly decided to sign up to a marathon six months ago), then get in touch with Sophie. She’s our Haven House challenge event guru and a bit of a thrill-seeker herself, having completed a skydive in 2012. This year, she’ll be taking it to the next level and tackling the Move with our Nurses virtual 100-miler. Keep an eye on Twitter to see if she completes it… Sophie is on hand to chat through any queries or ideas – she would love to hear from you!

And that’s it… 2019 in a ‘challenge event-shaped’ nutshell. From skies to coasts, forests to cities, pedalling to pounding pavements, and icy swimming to climbing mountains, there’s a real packed agenda and something for everyone. Make 2019 the year you do something epic. The year you make a difference. The year you help Haven House reach more life-limited children and their families. The year you become a Haven House Hero.