Charity fundraiser – Great Winter Run

Update: 12 January 2014 – I did it!
I did it! I completed my charity run in Edinburgh yesterday. It was really cold and breezy on Arthur’s Seat, but I kept going, and even better, managed to to a bit of a sprint finish! I had aimed to finish the race in 30 minutes, but on the big day actually managed to complete the course in 28 minutes and 30 seconds – a whole 4 minutes faster than I have ever run 5k in my life. I even finished in the top half of the field! This just goes to show that with practice, hard work and dedication, it’s possible to achieve great things… and this goes for exams as well as running.
A quick reminder that it’s still possible to add to my sponsorship for the Fibromyalgia Association UK, and will be possible to do so until the 11th April. The website is at , or by texting DUCK85 £2 to 70070.
Finally, a big THANK YOU to all those of you who have donated – it really means a lot and, hopefully, sometime soon we’ll be able to say that we’ve conquered Fibromyalgia too!
As to what’s next: preparing my students for their exams and working on the workshop and summer schools programme 🙂
Original post, 9 January 2014 – Pre-race
I am running the Bupa Great Winter Run in Edinburgh this weekend for the Fibromyalgia Association UK.  This post contains a bit of information about why I’m running, what I’m running, and, if you’re interested, how to sponsor me.
What is Fibromyalgia?
According to FMA UK, Fibromyalgia is

” […] a chronic condition of widespread pain and profound fatigue. The pain tends to be felt as diffuse aching or burning, often described as head to toe. It may be worse at some times than at others. It may also change location, usually becoming more severe in parts of the body that are used most.
The fatigue ranges from feeling tired, to the exhaustion of a flu-like illness. It may come and go and people can suddenly feel drained of all energy – as if someone just “pulled the plug”.
Fibromyalgia is a common illness. In fact, it is more common than rheumatoid arthritis and can even be more painful.” (Fibromyalgia Association UK, 2014)
Fibromyalgia is surprisingly common, officially more so that rheumatoid arthritis, affecting just under 5% of the population: in fact, I know three people who have been diagnosed with the condition.
The problem with fibromyalgia, though, is that although a relatively large number of people suffer from it, very little is understood about it.  The medical reason for the condition is at best unclear, and, at the moment, a cure is non-existent. The only course of action open to sufferers is management, often involving dramatic lifestyle changes and large amounts of pain medication.
FMA UK have two main roles: to raise awareness of fibromyalgia, and also to provide support and guidance to suffers, while monitoring and encouraging current research into the condition – which I hope that you will agree are all worthwhile aims!
Me and running
…or more to the point, me and not running.  When I was at school, I was one of the people who routinely avoided sport.  I was always last or second-last in everything, and would much rather find myself more useful as… commentator and scorer on Sports Day, as opposed to being in the team.
So, what changed?  Well, firstly, I moved to Durham, with its hills, which demanded a certain level of fitness – and when I had to take a break climbing Gilesgate Bank, and could only do one dance at a ceilidh without getting out of breath, I knew something had to change – so I started to exercise, using the NHS Couch to 5k programme as my guide.  It was about half way through this that I decided to actually do something useful, and do a charity run – and my Great Winter Run challenge was born.
The Run
The Bupa Great Winter Run is a 5k run, around Holyrood Park (and Arthur’s Seat!) in Edinburgh. It is run at the same time as the Edinburgh International XCountry races, which are televised on BBC1.  The course consists of one 5k lap of the park, with a 2km long, 122m high climb in the middle of the route – so it isn’t simple.  See below for more details of the course!
Sponsoring me
If you’ve managed to read this far through the post, you’re probably thinking about sponsoring me.  There are three ways to do this:

Go to, where you’ll find a purple “donate” button to click.
Text the words “DUCK85 £2” (or any amount of your choice, £1/£2/£3/£4/£5/£10) to 70070
Find me in person, and give me your sponsorship in cash, and I will add you to the JustGiving page myself.

Both myself, the volunteers at FMA UK, and fibromyalgia sufferers everywhere thank you for your support.
Follow me LIVE
Hopefully, I’ve managed to configure my phone such that it will be sending live tracking data for the duration of the run to this website.  There are no guarantees, and if the tracking link fails, I’m not going to stop running to fix it!  If you’d like to attempt to watch the live tracking, please go to – you can also tweet messages of support to @MallardDaysRun.