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Runner with a cause...

Why I’m running to raise money and awareness for The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

I have always loved elephants. There’s just something about those long dark eyelashes and wrinkly faces that draws me in. They are truly beautiful but endangered creatures; unfortunately still threatened by ivory poachers. Elephants are not only the epitome of both strength and grace, there is also interesting evidence to say that they experience a lot of human like emotions, such as mourning the loss of one of their family. This is why it really tugs on my heartstrings to think that hunters still destroy herds and habitats across Kenya. By running the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October on behalf of The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, I hope to help the charity continue to take action against these horrific crimes of nature and continue their amazing work rescuing and rearing orphaned elephants until they are able to be released back into the wild.

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is particularly close to my heart, not just because of the support they provide to my favourite species, but because I was lucky enough to visit their elephant sanctuary in Nairobi, Kenya during a volunteering trip in 2017. They are only open for an hour a day to protect the elephants from becoming too used to mass human contact, but the hour I spent there was sixty minutes of pure joy. Not only did I witness the baby elephants being fed and playing with each other in the mud but I also learnt so much about David Sheldrick and his family’s mission to care for and cater to the needs of each individual elephant. At the time of my visit, I had just started going to my local parkrun, and it didn’t really cross my mind that I could support this charity through running. But I did know that I wanted to continue to raise awareness and funds for this dedicated rescue organisation somehow.

Originally, I entered the public ballot to run the Royal Parks Half this year as I had seen so much good publicity about the event and the beautiful scenery along the 13.1-mile course. Taking part in my second half marathon a few months after my first attempt in April, I also knew I would have time to test out different types of training and learn from the mistakes I made the first time round. Unfortunately, my application was unsuccessful, so I decided to look at the list of charities in partnership with the race, hoping that I would find one that resonated with me and would offer me a place. I never expected The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust would be on that list – so when it came up I acted straight away. I was so pleased to get an almost immediate response to my email application, and even happier that the response was a positive one!

I have run for Cancer Research UK a few times before, but I think it’s so important to support those lesser-known charities too. My goal is to raise £350; a sum that I know will be greatly appreciated and put to good use helping to increase the survival rate of orphaned elephants and protecting and preserving Kenya's wildlife. But even a small donation of £15 would pay for a lined blanket to keep a baby orphan elephant warm. If you would like to make a donation of any size, please go to my Royal Parks Half Marathon Just Giving Page. Thank you so much.

There are so many benefits to running for each individual runner, including improving both mental and physical health, but isn’t it amazing to think that through running, we can not only get fitter and stronger on a personal level, but we can support organisations and projects on an international scale in order to make the world a better place for others. It gives another meaning to the community aspect of running. I don’t run every race for charity as I think I’d bleed my poor friends and family dry, but knowing I’m running this race for a charity so close to my heart is a great motivation boost and I can’t wait to start training in the next few weeks!

Finally, here’s a fun fact to brighten your day. I read online that when elephants look at humans their brains react in the same way as when humans look at puppies – basically, they think we’re cute! I'm not sure how trustworthy the source was but I'm willing to believe it!

Are you running the Royal Parks Half this October? Which charities will you be supporting? Let me know in the comments below and check out 13 lessons I learnt from my first half marathon for some extra race day tips.

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