Marathon Man Zaq completes his NHS fund-raising efforts and becomes the latest to wear the Mighty Green
- Credit: Archant
Zaq Bevan took on a massive lock-down challenge to raise funds for our NHS, writes Hamish Spence.
Last Thursday (June 18), in pouring rain, he completed the last of his 60 successive days of running – he ran a 10k for each of the first 30 days and a half marathon on each of days 30 to 60, and was accompanied across the finishing line by members of Sidmouth Running Club including club ambassador, Olympian Joe Pavey MBE.
Just after the start of the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown in the UK, Zaq [Bevan], took the decision to raise funds.
He decided to do 60 consecutive days of running on his fund-run to raise money to help our NHS Staff.
He hoped that 60 days of exertion would catch the attention of other people in his bid to raising these funds. So as not to be a possible burden to the NHS, he observed the strict lockdown rules by only taking the allowed one-hour daily exercise from home.
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He also took great care in making sure social distancing rules were adhered to by avoiding passing others too closely and ran at quieter times.
Then, around halfway through his challenge, the lockdown rules on exercise were relaxed, which in turn allowed Zaq to increase his distance and, from day 30, he was able to run a half marathon each day!
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The easing of lockdown rules and the increase in mileage was coincidently around the same time that various members of SRC noticed this young lad who wore a blue top while whizzing around the streets of Sidmouth.
This Mighty Blue runner now had our attention and he soon had Mighty Green company while pounding the streets.
Until this point, Zaq had been pretty much on his own and was only doing the same route to ensure lockdown compliance.
Zaq says: “It was only when Sidmouth Running Club (SRC) caught wind of what I was doing that I had company.
“When the He continued, “When the SRC members got involved in what I was doing, they introduced me to new routes around Sidmouth, I got to see the true beauty of the area I had moved to.
“I also got to meet some amazing people with their own stories and adventures.
“It was one of the most humbling experience and something I really didn’t expect.”
Being a very diverse running club, we embrace many differing abilities, we also are completely spoilt for choice on routes.
With something for everyone, from easy flat-as-a-pancake to hilly town routes along with cross country very hilly routes.
So, the Mighty Green response to Zaq being mostly on his own was to get him out onto and into our countryside. Naomi Garrick introduced him to the Muttersmoor area and the steep long climb of Peak Hill.
Covering 13.8 miles, this was to be the longest run of the 60 days.
He was also introduced to a club favourite, the gruelling clear-the-fog-from-the-night-before, John Keast’s Hangover route by JK himself.
Martin Trueman showed Zaq the shorter, but very steep Salcombe Hill and scenic Jurassic Coastal routes to the east of Sidmouth giving the biggest elevation gain of the whole fund-run, it was also his favourite.
Zaq says: “There were some amazing views along this route, and a point in my journey where things in my head really changed, I’m pretty sure I will never take freedom for granted again.”
There have been many high points on this journey and one that stands out was the very kind offer made by Graham Stout.
Zaq explains: “I was on day 48 and running along the sea front when this chap came over with the very kind offer of some new running trainers as a donation for the last couple of weeks of my run.
“My original trainers were in a very dilapidated state at this point and could well have been a contributing factor in the many pains I was aware of in my ankles and knees.”
The support on the home front from partner Jenni and his step children, Jaidana, aged five, and Pixie, four, was invaluable.
He explained to me that before setting off each day the two girls would do the warm-up session with him and then wave and cheer for him when he set off. His partner Jenni kept him well fuelled with food, and, when he tired, she made sure he stayed hydrated.
She kept a close watch on injuries and niggles that started to accumulate during this big challenge.
On one occasion during the extremely hot part of May, Zaq set off having forgotten to take water with him.
This was the only day on which he didn’t do the full distance he had intended.
Zaq explains saying: “I was dehydrating rapidly. My vision went so I had to stop! It was very scary for me, so I called Jenni.
“She stayed on the phone to me while I headed back home and on arriving back, she had food, sugary drinks and water for me.
“I am definitely very lucky to have them all in my life.”
Key worker Zaq, is employed in a business local to his home, Sidford Spar, so he is on his feet a lot during his working day.
Through the whole of the 60-day challenge, Zaq showed grit and determination in his day-to-day work in the shop.
He says: “Getting off my feet or sitting down at work was never something I wanted so I never asked for any special treatment.
“At around the halfway point my legs were trying to seize up, so resting for too long was never an option.”
On the 60th day of running and the 31st half marathon, Zaq set off into the very soggy streets of Sidmouth to the cheers and encouragement from neighbours and passers-by.
He was joined along the way by many Sidmouth Running Club members amongst which was Jo Pavey MBE.
All followed Zaq at a comfortable, but sociable distance, to give moral support and encouragement, through the pouring rain.
The challenge finished on the promenade in front of Port Royal with more well-spaced SRC members clapping and cheering him over the finish line.
Up until now Zaq, had only done a little running with boxing training, but running was never something he’d ever enjoyed.
Zaq told me: ‘I am honestly not really a runner’.
Being a Mighty Green member myself, I would have to disagree with him on that particular subject now that he has completed this amazing effort!
He’s not sure of the total distance covered and wanted to take each day as it came, so had not totalled up the mileage. However, having done a run for 60 consecutive days, 31 days of which were half marathons, I think he has definitely earned the right to call himself a runner and a good one at that. Sidmouth Running Club felt he’d not only earned the right to call himself a good runner, but also become a Mighty Green SRC member.
Chairman Terry Bewes awarded him with a two-year membership of the club and Jo Pavey, SRC Ambassador presented him with a bottle of Champaign.
To date, Zaq has helped to raise over £3,000 for the NHS Charities Together. If you wish to add to this very worthwhile fund then please head to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/zaq-bevan777