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Nikki Owen: Running and food banks


When I was a kid, there wasn’t much money. Don’t get me wrong, we had a roof and things, all the usual stuff, but I remember thinking even as a kid that what we had in comparison to others was different. Even then, as a child, I could tell the difference between those that had and those that didn’t.

In four weeks, I’m running the biggest race of my life so far. The 145-mile non-stop run from London to Bristol along the Grand Union Canal. To say I’m nervous is an understatement. I’ve been training all year, so used am I to running, the joy that it gives, the mode of transport it’s always provided me since I was a kid running in daps because who had money for trainers.

My knees along the way to this race have suffered. No big surprise there, but it knocked me for a while, strong as I like to think I am, stubbornly determined in my mind that, knees wacked or not, this race is being done. I have got great help now, and an incredible physio who’s assessed them, given me the green light, made me a plan. And my friends who are going to crew for me – wow, I cry a little each time I think of them, of the time they are giving up to support me in what I hope will be 37-40 hours of non-stop running, all through the night (hoping I finish, of course, slightly nervous of the chance I won’t, in truth).

And of course, all this can’t be done, ths mammoth training, without food. Like, it’s literally fuel for me, food right now. One day, I needed to intake 6,500 calories just to fuel my training and keep moving. 6,500! It’s insane. And that got me thinking about food and, specifically, the lack of it. I wasn’t going to do this non-stop run for charity at first. I love running, love a challenge – it seemed right up my street, without something to do it for, if you see what I mean. But then food kept playing on my mind and I started to think about those who lack it, those who struggle to afford it. And that’s when I knew the right thing to do: I was going to dedicate this run to Stroud Foodbank.

I’m fortunate enough now to be able to fuel up, to get food whenever I need to. But that thought catches me sometimes, makes me think back to the kid I was that ran in borrowed daps, the kid who knew that sometimes, somedays, things were tight, money-wise. It’s so sad to think other kids feel like that still today, that adults and parents have to scrape to feed themselves and their families in this day and age. It’s just wrong.

In an ideal world, it wouldn’t happen, and yet here we are. So for me, the Stroud Foodbank sits in an important place in my mind. If you want to donate to them through my run, the link is below. I thank you from the very depths of my heart. 

To be honest with you, I debated whether to share all this with you here, acutely aware as I am of the pressures we are all under, the giving we are frequently asked to do – and the fact that I may not even make the cut off times, never mind finish this race. And then I remembered that this is not about me or about pressure – this is about others, about our fellow humans. It’s about getting to the start line in the first place. It’s  us all helping each other. 

Because that’s what we’re good at, helping each other. That and crawling to a finish line because, one distant day when deep in lockdown, you thought running 145-miles non-stop was a great idea… 

Donate to Stroud Foodbank through Nikki’s 145-mile race here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NikkiOwen5

Nikki Owen is an author and endurance athlete living in Stroud.

Instagram @nikkiowen_author_athlete

Twitter @nikkiwriter

Facebook: nikkiowenauthor

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