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The support of a man whose son is battling leukaemia provided a timely boost to one of Cure Leukaemia’s runners as he neared the finish of this year’s Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run.
Daniel McLeod, aged 32 from Lichfield, was taking part in his first half marathon and admits he was struggling around the 11-mile mark during the torrential conditions of Sunday’s event in the Second City.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a spectator started running alongside him and offered some powerful words of encouragement.
“I’d got my headphones in and was just back on the flat after going up the hill just up by Bournville,” says Daniel.
“I was struggling a little bit, and all of a sudden a guy ran up next to me, put his arm around me and gave me a kiss on the side of my head.
“He had clocked my Cure Leukaemia running shirt, and told me his little lad was suffering, and that he just wanted to say thank you.
“I have to say – it half spurred me on and half turned me into an emotional wreck.
“But alongside the emotional wobble, it did give me a boost in those last couple of miles, and really put things into perspective.
“It was the realisation that here I was, running 13 miles in the rain, but this guy and his son were going through it far, far more than I ever was.
“My partner and family were there at the finish line, and I was feeling pleased to have finished and to have posted a decent time.
“But I still had to go off and have a bit of a moment by myself, because away from my own personal success, the money being raised meant a hell of a lot more to someone standing there a couple of miles away in the rain.”
Daniel is a Director with Bespoke Office Space Solutions, which oversaw the acquisition of the two floors of the Colmore Gate building for iHub Birmingham which includes the Cure Leukaemia office.
A keen footballer with Lichfield FC in the Midland League, being able to continue his career and also run 13 miles is something that seemed impossible just a few years ago.
Daniel explains: “I had always enjoyed running but a few years ago I suffered a serious back injury through general wear-and-tear from football and, with talk of fusions and operations, I was told I probably wouldn’t be able to play, or even run, ever again.
“But I found a good chiropractor who said that as long as I looked after myself and did the rehab correctly I should be o-k.
“I’d always wanted to try and do the London Marathon at some stage – on my bucket list I suppose – but then I got the injury.
“Now that I am recovered, it was Emma Johnston (I-Hub’s General Manager) who decided to volunteer me for the Great Birmingham Run, and she did it in front of loads of other people so I didn’t really have a choice!
“The thought of doing 13.1 miles wasn’t the most appealing, but Cure Leukaemia is such a fantastic charity and as soon as I started the fundraising it gave me the focus and motivation.
“Now I have done it I have really got the bug for it and have already put my name down for next year.
“It is only after you do an event like this that you realise how powerful it is, and how fantastic the support you get during the race, so I would encourage anyone who is thinking about it just to go for it!”
Daniel completed the half marathon in one hour 46 minutes and has already raised over £1,000 for Cure Leukaemia.