David Cranwell, therapy support worker at Ipswich Hospital set himself a momentous task. He decided to run non-stop from the site of the maternity home where he was born in Hasting to his current home in Sproughton, Ipswich. That’s a breath-taking 132 miles. He set off on his ‘Born to run home’ challenge one Thursday afternoon in May and planned to be home in time for breakfast less than 48 hours later – the day before his 60th birthday.
He was running to fundraise for the Eye Appeal at Ipswich Hospital and also ActivLives. He raised a wonderful £1,715.47 for each charity. He chose the Eye Appeal as he had an operation as a child and really appreciates the treasure of sight. He also felt he could make a meaningful contribution to the £55,000 needed for the portable OCT machine that the appeal is fundraising for.
Read on to hear all about his eventful journey in his own words…..
“I may be known for having run some extreme distances in the past, but this is the first time I have ever started from scratch having to plan the route, address logistics, manage the risks, fundraise and of course, get the approximately 1500 miles of training in as well to avoid injury.
When I committed to do this run, I did not know what support I would have on route, if any at all. Thankfully, both my children, Hannah and Matthew said they would help me. This then meant that I would see one of them typically every 16 miles and have access to food, drink, clothes, medicine, spare batteries, and importantly the next subset of maps from the 122 pages I had for the route.
“I hired a GPS Tracker which was a huge benefit in that the charities and my supporters could see the route I was taking, where I was on it and the average pace I was going.
“At the start of the run there was a gathering of people from my past. Old friends, school colleagues and even my A level maths teacher were there. The run was immediately downhill into the Old Town of Hastings and along the promenade for which I was accompanied by school friends from the 1960s and 70s. One friend even saw me out of Hastings and then I was on my own running down bridleways, along some busy roads, but mostly along country lanes.
“I soon felt I was getting into a rhythm and was mindful of the beautiful area I was running in with bluebells highlighting the banks of tree clad lanes, passing through quaint villages and then being presented with the incredible view of Bodiam Castle as I descended down towards the River Rother and a quick top up of water and supplies from Hannah.
“On the next stretch, I endured about an hour of heavy rain as I made my way to Frittenden which was 32 miles into the run. That meant there was a mere 100 miles to go!
“The Frittenden checkpoint was time to get ready for night time running with a hi-vis and head torch. I’d arrived before Hannah so whilst waiting for her I took refuge in a local pub who were intrigued about my quest. Before I left Frittenden I amazingly received two donations from the pub landlady and one of her patrons. These people were strangers just a few minutes earlier and I was in awe over their generosity as I was also with similar people I would meet later on my journey.
“As I made my way forward towards Maidstone, I found myself on some very dark narrow lanes with no supplementary lighting from street lamps or houses. It was difficult to spot all the pot holes or where the road had fallen away at the edges and I did turn my foot a few times, but fortunately not enough to cause injury.
“By the time I got to Rochester, I felt my energy levels were down so I popped into a fast food burger place, bought two cheese burgers and a chocolate milkshake and then marched along the A226 towards Gravesend. Once there I grabbed a takeaway breakfast from another outlet and was off down to the pier and the waiting ferry. As I made my way across the river to Tilbury, I enjoyed my breakfast with some relief as cancellation of the ferry service was a major risk.
“Making my way along some very busy roads where drivers did not seem to want to slow down I got to Stanford Le Hope, the half way point and met both Hannah and Matthew.
“My route then took me round Basildon, into Stock (by this time I was about 70 miles into my run) and then on to Chelmsford. Heading into Chelmsford there was some rain, which suddenly transformed into a very heavy down pour. I just had to keep going. Every step forward was a step in the right direction. I had some trouble finding my way out of Chelmsford but preserved and was soon on track to my next key checkpoint at Wickham Bishops. This marked 100 miles done with 32 to go and the welcome sight of my son, Matthew. It was here that people seemed to like to offer lifts, but I kindly refused each time, telling them what I was doing!
“From Tiptree onwards I was in darkness again. It was a bit of a trudge as I approached Colchester where I met Matthew again for which was really the final top up I’d have. I carried on north out of Colchester to Boxted, by which time I was so tired that the world was looking rather surreal. I’d see detail in the shapes of puddles, trees and foliage which reminded me of different things. I found myself being excessive on checking that I had not gone too far. I think the tiredness was kicking in.
“Hannah guided me down to Stratford St Mary and by the time we were on the A12 it was 5.40am and light again and I began to wake up more. I was now finding it tough to get into a running rhythm, and certainly took advantage of any down hills. We came down the Old London Road (A12) and up by Tesco Copdock and entered Church Lane via the Hadleigh Road. Before we reached the underpass, Matthew joined us on foot from the other direction and as we ran down to the underpass a friend met us and ran with us down the rest of Church Lane. As we approached the junction to Church Crescent, some neighbours were beside the road waving Union Jack flags by which time I had opened up the throttle to finish with a sprint as family members scrambled out of my house to welcome me back.
“There was a fair bit of conversation outside then I went in ate pizza, took out contact lenses, had a shower then had the best 9 hour sleep I think I have ever had. The next day was my 60th birthday and it was very much a cake day.
“I am very thankful to my family for supporting me in this quest of mine, though they look at me in horror when I tell them I have learnt a lot for the next time! I also thank all my other supporters and the generosity they have shown to the charities I am fundraising for.