19 April 2004
Windscreen wipers needed on President's marathon day
Methodist President of Conference, Revd Dr Neil Richardson, was one of 33,000 competitors from 40 nations to endure the wet and wind to participate in yesterday's 24thLondon marathon. By doing so he became the first leader of a British Christian Church to run the premier sporting event while holding office.
Neil, who has run the marathon several times, found this one particularly difficult. He reflected: "I set off at 10 and crossed the finish line just before 3 o'clock - a little slower than expected. Being President of Conference has meant that I haven't had the time to put in as much training as I'd have liked. Also, as a spectacle wearer, I could have done with some windscreen wipers!"
He continued: "The London Marathon, however, will always be a great experience. There is a fantastic atmosphere, and with so many runners raising money and awareness for charity there pervades a spirit of giving."
So far, Neil has raised £5000 for Christian Aid's work in Sierra Leone and he hopes that sum will double over the coming weeks as more sponsorship comes in.
Neil spent part of his early career teaching in Sierra Leone. He said: "It was in Sierra Leone, indeed, that I felt my calling to the ministry. It has been a long time since I have been there, and in the intervening years there has been great devastation. The sponsorship money will help towards Christian Aid's peace and reconciliation work, helping to rebuild communities after civil war."
He added: "In July this year, under the auspices of the Methodist World Church Office, I will visit Sierra Leone again, and hope to meet some of my ex-pupils."
As for another marathon, can he face another? "I wouldn't at all
surprised" he said with a smile.
You can still sponsor Neil for this years effort by calling 0207 496 1696 or checking out his marathon website, where you can sponsor him online.