Martyn’s Great Manchester Run 46 out of 50 birthday runs

Martyn’s mission to complete 50 runs for charity before his 50th birthday and the Great Manchester Run is event number 46.

Martyn Cassidy

Martyn’s Mission

Martyn Cassidy, a man who is on a mission to complete 50 organised running events in a year to raise funds for Francis House Children’s Hospice, has selected the Great Manchester Run as event number 46. With his 50th birthday approaching on June 28, Martyn will be donning his bright yellow running vest as he crosses the finish line on May 26, running in support of the beloved Manchester children’s hospice.

Martyn, who is a quantity surveyor, wanted to mark the occasion of turning 50 years of age by getting fit and breaking a twenty year cycle of running just one event a year and generally being unhealthy and eating junk food.

His weekly challenges have taken him on a tour of the north west – running a combination of 5k Parkruns, 10k runs, Half Marathon’s and part of a Marathon relay team.

Martyn, from Sale, first took part in the Great Manchester Run in 2005 – his first ever running event after friends dared him, and his now wife Sara, to take part. For the next twelve years he entered the annual event.

“That’s really when my running started at the Great Manchester Run. I loved running the route and it’s a great event for a first timer as the crowds and atmosphere pulls you along. There is a really good vibe in the town afterwards with all of the runners and their families and friends."

Martyn Cassidy

50 for 50

“That one race was pretty much all I did until I turned 40 when I started doing half marathons. Sara and I did the Manchester Marathon just to prove we could do it but vowed never to do it again! I wasn’t really pushing myself and although I’d been running casually for about 18 years or so it wasn’t until I was facing turning 50 that I wanted to really challenge myself,” said Martyn.

Over the course of his ‘50 for 50’ challenge, Martyn will have clocked up approximately 500km in races and a further 500km in training runs between the events!

With a new pair of running shoes, shorts and a running club membership with Run Through North, Martyn was set for his first event – a 5km run around Media City on the day after his 49th birthday.

“Not only was I now officially an ‘athlete’ but the club membership also enabled me to get discounted entry on most of my events. As a first event it was a nice easy two laps of Salford Quays on a pleasant summer’s evening. I wanted to gently ease myself into it, rather like submersing slowly into a warm bath.”

Martyn is hoping to raise £2,000 and is well on his way having raised more than £1,800 on his JustGiving page.

Personal Bests

Events have include the Wilmslow 10k, Birkenhead Parkrun, Tatton half marathon, Alton Towers 10k, Liverpool half marathon and the Trafford 10k.

“Wilmslow Summer 10k was a bit of a special one as I somehow managed to knock over half a minute off my 10k Personal Best (PB). I was accompanied, for the first of more than 22 occasions, by my inspirational better half Sara who also achieved a PB.

“On the way back to the car a lady approached us and thanked us for running for Francis House as her child had been there. It certainly put things in perspective.

Francis House Children’s Hospice supports more than 600 families from across Greater Manchester, providing a range of services including respite care, homecare, sibling support, end of life care and bereavement support to children and young adults with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions.

Annual running costs are £4.8 million, approximately £13,150 per day, and all services are given completely free. By far the largest part of funding comes through charitable donations.

“I’m addicted to it now,” says Martyn. “This challenge has given me a chance to see what I’m capable of if I push myself just that little bit more. The results have been staggering. I’m feeling fitter and healthier, and the races give me something exciting to look forward to each weekend. I’ve obliterated all of my PB’s at every distance.

“I’ve made new friendships in the local running community, just by meeting up at the events you get chatting. I’ve also met people where I live which is nice. I’d like to think I’ve also inspired a couple of my friends to join in as well. A guy at work did his first ever Parkrun with me.

“I was already aware of the brilliant work that Francis House does. It just felt like the right choice. My daughter Rebecca and I went to an open day to the hospice, and it inspired me a lot. The next day I was running a very muddy and hilly Delamere Forest Trail 10k and it really pushed me to keep going.”

Wilmslow Summer 10k and another personal best for Martyn

Extreme Challenge

Martyn said: “Before this challenge running was something that I dabbled with. I wasn’t serious with it and used to find it a bit of a chore to be honest. But now, if I don’t run, I don’t feel right.

“I’ve been running a 10k every year for the last 18 years and now aged 49 years I’m running two and a half minutes faster than I ever have before.”

Two weeks after he completes the Great Manchester Run, Martyn will be lacing up his running shoes for the most extreme of his challenges – four gruelling legs of the Tour of Tameside. The festival of running starting on June 13, covering two 10k runs, a Half Marathon on day 3 and finishing with a 7 mile race around Hyde. For anyone completing all four challenges there is a huge sense of achievement.

Martyn said: “This challenge has been amazing, and I know I’m not going to stop, that’s for certain. To the wonderful people at Francis House, everyone who has donated, all the event organisers and the members of the public who line the pavements shouting encouragement plus all the thousands of other runners who have crossed the finish line with me, and to my family and friends I will be forever grateful.”

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