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The charity making life better by water

Dave runs an ultra-marathon in rain

Dave raised £1,000 for the Trust by running an ultra-marathon along the beautiful Mon & Brec Canal in Wales. Here he shares his experience of the challenge and how encouraged people to donate.

In Dave's words

I jumped at the chance to take part in the Brecon to Cardiff ultra-marathon.

For me, getting the trainers on and heading outdoors away from the daily grind evokes the same emotional response as playing outdoors did when I was a child. A key part of that is being able to run in environments close to water.

I'm aware of the fantastic work that the Trust delivers in the upkeep of our waterways, and the benefits it brings to communities. Living close to canals means I've a personal appreciation of these free outdoor spaces, so I wanted to do my bit to show my gratitude.

A tree-lined canal and towpath with dappled sunlight

Making each step count

The best thing about taking part in a fundraising challenge is the opportunity to give something back.

To raise as much money as I could, I made good use of my social media platforms by posting consistently about my training efforts and my reasons for running for the Canal & River Trust.

I also directly communicated with work colleagues and contractors regularly. Keeping people up to date was a very useful way of maintaining interest in the fundraising. With each update, it seemed there was a flurry of new donations.

I think it's really useful to create a compelling narrative to go with a fundraising drive. When people learn who you're raising money for, how those funds will be used and why you're doing it, they're more willing to donate.

I also find attaching a fundraising aspect to a challenge gives my training and preparation more focus. When the weather conditions took their toll on the day of the race, I took solace from the fact I was enduring the elements for a good cause.

I was flabbergasted to raise a total of £1,000! The contributions made were massively appreciated and very humbling, and I want to say a big thank you to all who donated.

Dave soaked but still smiling after the ultra-marathon

A stunning running route through nature

Up with the lark, I was at Race HQ to register at 5:30am, on the bus to Brecon at 6:15am and arriving at the canal basin at 7:20am for the race brief.

The race itself was phenomenal. A beautiful course, fantastic organisation, and great marshals and feed stations.

The first 10k of the race was along stunning towpaths. After a while we faced a gradual but unrelenting climb for seven miles. I had to dig deep! On a clear day, the views of Talybont, Pentwyn and Pontisticill Reservoirs would've been spectacular.

From the highest point it was then a steady descent back into Cardiff. The halfway checkpoint at Merthyr was welcome – I demolished a cheese pastie which gave me a real energy boost.

The second half passed through more urban and residential areas, still with very beautiful sections. The conditions had really taken their toll at this stage, and I was embracing the run/walk strategy, which seemed to be working well.

I was delighted to compete the ultra-marathon in a shade over eight hours. I would've been happy to finish in ten hours, so this was a welcome result. It was just a shame that the weather was so brutal, but I wouldn't hesitate to run this route again in the future.

Narrowboat moored on a canal corner next to houses

Just do it!

If you're thinking of taking on a fundraiser, my advice is to just do it! Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone can be a brilliant thing. It can provide a huge sense of achievement and a boost for your self-esteem. And supporting a worthy cause makes it feel even better.

Thank you to everybody who sponsored me in this challenge.

photo of a location on the canals
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