Windscreen wipers needed on President's marathon day

Methodist President of Conference, Revd Dr Neil Richardson, wasone of 33,000 competitors from 40 nations to endure the wet andwind to participate in yesterday's 24thLondon marathon.By doing so he became the first leader of a British ChristianChurch to run the premier sporting event while holding office.

Neil, who has run the marathon several times, found this oneparticularly difficult. He reflected: "I set off at 10 and crossedthe finish line just before 3 o'clock - a little slower thanexpected.  Being President of Conference has meant that Ihaven'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 windscreenwipers!"

He continued: "The London Marathon, however, will always be agreat experience. There is a fantastic atmosphere, and with so manyrunners raising money and awareness for charity there pervades aspirit of giving."

So far, Neil has raised £5000 for Christian Aid's work in SierraLeone and he hopes that sum will double over the coming weeks asmore sponsorship comes in.

Neil spent part of his early career teaching in Sierra Leone. Hesaid: "It was in Sierra Leone, indeed, that I felt my calling tothe ministry. It has been a long time since I have been there, andin the intervening years there has been great devastation. Thesponsorship money will help towards Christian Aid's peace andreconciliation work, helping to rebuild communities after civilwar."

He added: "In July this year, under the auspices of theMethodist World Church Office, I will visit Sierra Leone again, andhope to meet some of my ex-pupils."

As for another marathon, can he face another? "I wouldn't at allsurprised" he said with a smile. 

You can still sponsor Neil for this years effort by calling 0207496 1696 or checking out his marathonwebsite, where you can sponsor him online.