Thursday, 11 May 2017

London Marathon

It's hard to put into words the magnitude of the London Marathon experience but I'll give it a go.

After 4 months of training made up of 69 training runs, covering 448 miles in a total of 64 hours I felt ready for the marathon!

I was given the opportunity to run London by the miscarriage charity Tommy's after Emily and I did Ride London to raise money for the charity last summer. I'd always wanted to do the London Marathon once and this was the perfect opportunity.

The training demanded real commitment and determination but also gave me the wonderful life-affirming experiences of running in Cape Town, the mountains in the Franschhoek wine region of South Africa, along the coastline in Lisbon, around reservoirs in the Peak District and on frozen pathways in the Cotswolds.

When I registered for the London Marathon I put my estimated finish time as four hours. But after training with Sheffield running club Steel City Striders I felt I could go for a faster time. Then I was set the challenge of beating the time of one of my best friends! James did the marathon a few years ago in 3 hours 33 minutes and 17 seconds. His dad said he'd sponsor me £200 if I beat his son's time! The challenge was set.

The problem with me predicting my finish time as 4 hours was that the runners in the pen I started in were too slow for the pace I needed to go of 8 minutes per mile. The course was so busy for much of the first 15 miles that it wasn't possible to run at my own speed. The packed course, an anxiety-induced tightness across my chest and the knowledge that I had so many miles still to run meant that by 18 miles in I was about 3 minutes down on the pace I needed to do to beat James' time. I resigned myself to not hitting my target, but to put that at the back of my mind and to enjoy the rest of the marathon. Thankfully it was at mile 18 that I saw my wife Emily in the crowd and ran over and gave her a kiss which gave me a big boost! I started to feel stronger and there was much more space on the course to run my pace. Then at mile 20 I saw Emily again with my good friend Dave who'd made me a hilarious banner to encourage me to beat James' time (see below)! I shouted to them as I passed, "I need to speed up" and they bellowed encouragement.


Having done lots of reading on marathon running I'd learnt that the final six miles is what makes or breaks a marathon - while some hit the wall because they have not taken in enough energy gels and liquids and haven't trained sufficiently, others are able to push on. Thankfully the hours of training paid off and I was able to speed up and overtake precisely 1,409 runners in the last 4.5 miles - with no one overtaking me! The 25th mile was my fastest, at 6 minutes 55 seconds.

Perhaps it sounds overly sentimental but I'd read that you should devote each of the last four miles to different people that are important to you to help distract you from the exhaustion and for me it really worked - repeating the names of the people I love over and over helped inspire me. And as I did, I was regularly checking my pace on my GPS running watch - it was dropping closer and closer to 8 minutes per mile. I was now confident I'd be able to beat my friend James' time.

Running along the Embankment the course swings right past Big Ben and with less than half a mile to go I happened to be on the right side of the road to unexpectedly see James in the crowd (the friend whose time I was hoping to beat!) I let out an almighty roar as he cheered me on. Then I just had to stay focused, passing Buckingham Palace to my left and then onto the Mall for a sprint finish. I finished in 3 hours 32 minutes and 13 seconds, 1 minute and 4 seconds quicker than James.

Crossing the finish line was the moment in my life when I felt the most proud of myself because I'd put so much into preparing for the marathon. To go from about 3 minutes down on my target time at 18 miles, to finish one minute ahead of it was particularly pleasing. I dug incredibly deep physically and mentally to achieve it.

Just as an aside - something I'd not accounted for is that you actually run more than 26.2 miles when you do a marathon because you don't run the racing line. I ended up doing 26.4 miles and that extra point two of a mile added more than a minute and a half to my finish time.

Most importantly, Emily and I have been able to raise more than £6,000 for the miscarriage charity Tommy's. Earlier this year, I blogged about why I ran for Tommy's.

If you have a good level of fitness and you ever get the chance to run a marathon, I'd definitely recommend it. I shan't be doing another one though, the time needed to train and the potential for injuries means once is enough for me. I'll spare you the detail on the toenail I had to have removed a week after the marathon as I don't want it to put you off running a marathon yourself!

A big thank you to everyone who supported and encouraged me in my marathon effort.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Flies!

I've been to Rossington in Doncaster to investigate reports of a fly infestation. Residents there are complaining of hundreds of the insects in their homes.



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Friday, 28 April 2017

Cycling in Yorkshire

With the Tour de Yorkshire starting today, I've been looking at whether there's a growth in the number of people cycling. According to Sport England, since the Tour de France came here in 2014, Yorkshire has the second highest number of cyclists in England.  But campaigners say there's still a long way to go.



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Friday, 14 April 2017

40 Years of Snooker in Sheffield

The World Snooker Championships has been taking place at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield for forty years! Apparently it's brought £100 million pounds to the city over the last four decades. I've been to the Crucible to interview the Chairman of World Snooker, Barry Hearn and former World Snooker Champion Cliff Thorburn. As a snooker fan this was a real joy to put together and my report was used on Look North...



...and a shorter version on the BBC News Channel...



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Monday, 3 April 2017

Bradford Markets

I've been to Bradford to find out about £15 million plans to redevelop the markets in the city.



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Saturday, 11 March 2017

Robot Surgery

I've been to the Hallamshire hospital in Sheffield which is to become the UK centre for pioneering robotic brain surgery which could change the lives of thousands of patients. Rosa the Robot uses a GPS-like system to map the human brain and carry out neuro surgery with the kind of pinpoint accuracy which was previously impossible.



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Thursday, 2 March 2017

Huddersfield Town at the Etihad

I had a thoroughly enjoyable night at the Etihad stadium reporting on Huddersfield Town's FA Cup 5th round replay against Manchester City. I've seen Town play four times in the last few weeks and have been really impressed by their free-flowing football and the enthusiastic, uplifting atmosphere created by the fans. Here's my report on Look North before the match...



Despite going one nil up, Huddersfield were outclassed and eventually went down 5-1. I did a live on Look North after the match...



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Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Ice Ultra

I've been to the Peak District to film a really enjoyable story. It's about a man called Will Roberts who a year ago was overweight, out of shape and a heavy drinker. But watching his mum suffer from debilitating multiple sclerosis made him determined to get up off the sofa. In that short space of time he's become running obsessed. Now he's about to take part in the 150 mile Ice Ultra race in the sub-zero temperatures of arctic Sweden to raise funds for the MS Society.


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Sunday, 19 February 2017

Murder Investigation

A murder investigation has been launched after the fatal shooting of a man in Sheffield. The incident happened on Daniel Hill in the Upperthorpe area of the city. Residents say the victim was going to a family gathering when he was attacked...



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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Joe Root

I've been along to Sheffield Collegiate Cricket Club to interview Matt Root, the father of Yorkshire batsman Joe Root, who has been named the new test captain of England. What's remarkable is that Joe Root is the second cricketer to become England captain from Sheffield Collegiate, following in the footsteps of Michael Vaughan.



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Saturday, 28 January 2017

FA Cup Preview

I've been digging into the FA Cup archive to preview the FA Cup fourth round this weekend. Both Leeds United and Huddersfield Town are in the race for promotion to the Premier League - but a cup run could be a good distraction and bring in extra funds. I've been digging into the archive...



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Thursday, 26 January 2017

Sport For All

I've been in Wakefield to meet double Paralympic gold medallist Danielle Brown who's launched a project that helps disabled children compete alongside their able-bodied classmates. Danielle - who's an Archer from Lothersdale near Skipton - became the first disabled person to represent England in an able-bodied event at the Commonwealth Games. She's now backing the 4 All Games.

Here's the report I put together on the story:



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And this is the lunch bulletin as live:



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Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Gary Caldwell

I've been down to Chesterfield to meet their new manager Gary Caldwell. The former Wigan boss has the challenge of keeping the Spireites in League One.

Filming, editing and scripting this story in a few hours was a challenge as there's a lot to think about - who are you going to interview? What shots do you need to make a good package? How can I make this of interest to people who aren't into football? Fortunately I could film with the fans who'd been invited down to the press conference so I focused the story around them...



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Sunday, 15 January 2017

London Marathon

I've been offered the daunting but exciting opportunity of running the London Marathon for Tommy’s, a charity which I feel passionately deserves support.

Over the last two and a half years of trying for a baby, my wife and I have had two miscarriages. The pain and upset this has caused is hard to put into words. So many couples suffer a miscarriage - around 1 in 4 women lose a baby during pregnancy and birth.

And this is where Tommy’s comes in. They fund research into pregnancy problems and try to end the stigma around miscarriage. Tommy’s and its supporters refuse to accept that a baby's death is just 'one of those things'. Their target is to halve the number of babies that die during pregnancy or birth by 2030. There’s loads more about the charity here: www.tommys.org

My wife and I are determined to do something positive to help. We raised more than £3,500 after both doing Ride London in July 2016.

I've since been given the chance to do the London Marathon in April 2017 for Tommy’s and I simply could not turn it down. It'll be the first marathon I've ever done and to say I'm nervous about it is an understatement! I want to continue where we left off and aim to raise a total of £5,000 for both Ride London and the London Marathon. 

If you'd like to donate: 

Thanks for your support.

Mark

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Dentist Iraq

I've been to film a story with a really inspiring young Muslim man. Dr Mohammad Mozaffree is a dentist from Leeds has been giving up his time and money to volunteer in war-torn Iraq in what he describes as the worst health conditions he's ever seen. He treats hundreds of patients, including orphans and widows of victims of the so-called Islamic State, through the charity A World Without Barriers...