In July, Jen took to the towpath of her local canal to complete our first ever Canalathon challenge, something she never believed she would be capable of doing.
In Jen's words
I've been working on running, trying to get a bit fitter. I needed something to help me up my game and Canalathon came along at exactly the right time.
Having seen first-hand some of the excellent work done on my local stretch of canal, the opportunity to help keep it going was a no-brainer. I'm very lucky that, working for Middleport Matters Community Trust, I often get to link up with the Canal & River Trust folks at Harecastle Tunnel and take part in volunteer days and activities. I've canoed, planted trees, helped with canal clean-ups and explored local wildlife.
The environment is massively important to me, as it should be to everyone, and our waterways are a big part of that.
Feeling happier, fitter and stronger
I don't generally deal well with heat, so running lots in July was always going to be a challenge!
I tried to run early in the morning or in the evening, avoiding the hottest parts of the day. When the record-breaking heatwave struck, I had to take a few days off and reschedule my runs.
By completing Canalathon, I've proved to myself that I'm capable of this kind of physical challenge. The sense of achievement is phenomenal. I did it. I really ran 26.2 miles in a month. One year ago, I wouldn't have believed that was possible.
I can feel that I'm fitter and stronger for it. I've also noticed that generally I'm feeling happier and more content with life.
A calm connection
I've always loved being by water. Something about the way it moves, even the little ripples on a canal, just makes me feel calm.
Exploring a little further along my local stretch of canal for Canalathon, and seeing it at different times of day, has really helped me build a connection with it.
The people I passed along the towpath were genuinely lovely. Cyclists rang their bell to warn me they were about to pass, and other runners would nod hello. Occasionally I even got words of encouragement from people fishing.
Running does me good, being by water does me good. The combination has been great.
If you're thinking about taking on a fundraising challenge for the Canal & River Trust, my advice is to go for it. Find a way of making it work for you and just go for it.
The fact that you're helping people take care of such beautiful, important places is a great driver and the icing on the cake.
Jenraised a brilliant £271 to help support our work. Thank you for your superb efforts, Jen!