Long time Silverfitter Pip Lloyd recently participated in Marathon de Sables, raising funds for St. Christopher’s Hospice.
Marathon des Sables, or MdS, (French for Marathon of the Sands, also known as Sahara Marathon) is a six-day, 251 km (156 mi) ultramarathon, which is approximately the distance of six regular marathons. This multiday race is held every year in southern Morocco, in the Sahara Desert. It has been called the toughest foot race on Earth.
We spoke with Pip about her motivation and preparation for this tough event along with her plans for other endurance events in the future!
How did the idea of participating in a tough challenge such as MDS come about? What did your friends and family think of your participation? Once you start doing Ultras Marathons, MDS is one of the events that you hear about and it leaks into your consciousness. At first, I said never, never, never but I found myself entering it! I had to break the news to my family very gently, originally, I told them I was doing a walking holiday in Morocco – gradually I let the truth leak out. When I told my friends, half were horrified and half were admiring!
When did you start training for it, and how did you go about training for the hot weather, carrying tons of your kit and running in sand? I started training 14-15 months beforehand, and I started participating in a lot of hilly ultras, with muddy conditions to substitute for the sand for e.g London to Brighton – 100k, which I also participated in this year (27-28th May 2017). I didn’t have much chance to train on sand, and unfortunately, I had very little chance to acclimatise to the hot weather.
Could you tell us a bit about the story and motivation behind fundraising for a great cause – St Christopher’s Hospice. I cherish the chance to participate for St Christopher’s Hospice. My husband passed away under their care. Given the enormous challenge that is MDS, I wasn’t sure if I would get to the starting line. I started fundraising towards the end of my training, as I felt confident of making it to the starting line. But, I also had to pass a medical beforehand and I wasn’t sure how it would go! Luckily, it all went very well!
How did you keep yourself focussed during the time in the desert? How many stages of the race did you finish – will you go back to try it again – eg. for a better time, more stages, for the experience? I completed two stages of the race. I had to pull out at the third stage due to my asthma. The first stage was 30k and relatively flat with few sand dunes. The second a 40k stage was much tougher with higher dunes followed by a rocky climb, called a jebel (Arabic), followed by a very steep descent towards the end. I made a point of stopping ever so often to take in the wonderful scenery, I was given encouragement and support from other competitors including Duncan a fellow British double amputee – who completed the entire event! At times it was just a case of one step at a time. Having said never ever, I have entered next year. This time I will have a different emphasis, I might go for another charity that affects my family, a smaller charity – for eg. Rheumatoid arthritis research. I am doing a shorter desert challenge and I know I must do a bit more rock scrambling!
Are there any upcoming endurance challenges for you ahead? I participated in the London to Brighton 100K last week, and I am also signed up for the Thames 100k in Sept. Perhaps I might do a 50k in September, and I have signed up for another desert challenge in October. I am doing fewer events this year, I think I did too many long challenges in training. Now, I am concentrating more on the technical challenges – for eg. Rocky terrain and sand.
Any tips for anyone who may want to try out an event such as MDS, but not sure where to begin? If you have never done any kind of ultras before, I think you just need to get into doing at least a 50k challenge. For someone in my age group – a training period of 12-18 months is ideal as it helps endurance building in a safe, steady manner. There are companies that specialise that do multi-day events for e.g. 3 marathons in 3 days. Try and find out not just the distance but the terrain where it’s organised. Tailor your training to the terrain, not just the distance. Start slow and steady and just build up your endurance, it’s not about the speed, it’s about trying to get through the race!
Two of our long-time members , Val and Barbara” are off to an exciting Walking Football Tournament trip and are fundraising for Silverfit.
Read their story below!
“We are part of an eight-strong, co-ed team heading to Portugal to compete in this Walking Football tournament for the over 50s. We’re both in our 70s and have been members of Silverfit, a charity aimed at encouraging well-being and fitness for the over 45s, since 2014 and are participating in the event to raise funds
for this worthy cause.
We have been playing Walking Football at Millwall Football Club’s Community Centre since 2015, when Silverfit contributed initial funding to help get the program off the ground.
The team from Millwall is one of eight teams from Portugal, Spain and the UK playing in the tournament. The club is charitable trust, Millwall For All, and it is generously paying for everyone’s flights as well as sending representatives to assist the team.
Silverfit has made a big difference in our lives and we would like to take this opportunity to raise funds for the great work they do so that more people can benefit from the Silverdays they offer throughout London. Please support us and help us to achieve our goal to raise £500 for this wonderful charity! You can donate here.”
In 1985, Broadwater Farm became notorious as Britain’s most vicious estate, when a mob hacked a policeman to death. Thirty years on, Broadwater has one of the lowest crime rates in the borough of Haringey, an area that is one of the most ethnically diverse in the UK. A leading figure to help bring about this positive transformation is Clasford Stirling MBE, who has been a youth worker on the estate for 38 years and runs the Broadwater Farm Community Centre. Since the launch of Silver Tuesday at Lordship Rec, Haringey in July 2016, Stirling has been involved with Silverfit and coaches the Badminton group at the venue.
You have a long and fantastic history of working with youth and the local community, what does your day to day routine involve?I have been working in the community for so long that I never have a rest day. There’s always something to be done. I am always helping residents with legal, domestic problems, court cases, etc. I deal with so many different things which have just become part of my life. Even though it’s not a paid role, I am surprised at the success that’s come with it! I am the sort of person who does what they say, so people come to me even issues like a passport application. Helping people in the community is a part of my life!
You are currently coaching our Silverfit badminton group, is this something you have undertaken for the first time – for this age group?It’s the first time I have started coaching this age group, it’s been a joy! When you get into your later years, unless you’ve been in leisure/sport when you’ve been younger, it’s hard to keep physically active. Silverfit has really built up, it’s great to have the older generation active in Broadwater Farm. It’s fantastic to see the interest of the members! Infact, this is something that should be replicated in the whole borough. As long as it continues I will be with Silverfit!
You have spoken about having the need for right role models for the next generation. Do you think given the growing issue of isolation amongst our older generation, a collaboration between the two generations may work? I think we need activities for the middle and older aged to get more involved with community development so they can be out and about. It’s mostly the young who are participating currently. We need to get older folk involved in community development, as it also helps the youngsters a lot. The more they are around, the more it will encourage the younger generation. I have never seen many younger folk play badminton but I bet you if they see the older folk, they will want to do it too! Children are brought up with respect for their elders, so we should tap into this.
How has Broadwater farm and Tottenham changed in the last few years? Has the demographic changed? Does this impact the kind of support system the residents and locals needs, is it different to a decade ago?Yes, although, it’s not an easy one to answer. The changes are mostly because of the council cuts. It’s very difficult as people are looking for jobs, striving to keep paying their bills, etc. The culture has changed a bit, initially it was very Caribbean, Irish, White English but now it’s a mix of African, Turkish, Kurdish, etc. and more multi cultured. The economic status has changed a little bit, it’s the late 70s, there was 90% unemployment, but we got together and decided to make a change and determine our own future. We created jobs, etc and helped the estate change. Silverfit has also contributed to the community with the introduction of activities for the over 45s and 50s.
Are volunteer led organisations key to bringing communities together in an age where we are increasingly isolated as individuals? I think volunteer led organisations are the number one for the community building. The community is always there and doesn’t operate on a 9-5 basis. Our contribution as voluntary organisations is a life saver. Not only do we help defuse many difficult situations before they pose a problem, but provide activities, opportunities that people would not normally partake in.
What is your dream for Tottehnham and Broadwater Farm? I think for me, my dream is not just local, its national and for the world. I grew up in a large family. I came here not knowing what racism was about, even though things were echoed around us. Even today, despite the way the world is going, my family is everybody. My dream for Tottenham is for everyone to see everyone as they are and as a family. It might seem too perfect, but it can be achieved. We have evolved, yet we seem to be going backwards. But we need to come together. I hope to play a part in making this happen!
In December 2016, Silverfit was nominated as The Gym Group’s Charity of the Month.
For every new member that signed up to any of The Gym’s sites that month, they were given the option to donate £1 to their first month’s membership fee, with The Gym Group then transferring all money collected to the charity at the end of the month.
We are delighted to announce, a charity payment has made its way to Silverfit! This sizeable donation will keep several of our venues going, and we are very grateful for the support and encouragement. Thank you from all of us at Silverfit!
Michele is a regular at Silver Wednesday, Whitton. Here’s her Silverfit story…
“I am 58 and have had some health issues. I had to have a hip replaced early in 2015, and then the other one in April 2016.
Whilst in my doctors surgery, I saw a poster for Silverfit though I had no idea really what it was about.
I saw Bollywood fitness dancing advertised which looked so much fun and I wondered if I could do it! Once I was mobile enough to join I did and started in the September 2016.
I was with other like minded people who just want to have fun and keep fit. We are all at different levels of fitness but it really doesn’t matter as it’s all about having fun which we do! I enjoy it so much and we are such a sociable group who sit and chat after with drinks. We also went for a lunch together few weeks ago, to a vegetarian restaurant which was also something new for me.
This has given me the confidence to try other things which I have done since such as para gliding and para sailing in Turkey.
Then I thought what else would I like to do? I want to learn to fly! So in Sept, I had my first lesson and gave not looked back since.
Silverfit is for anybody at any level of fitness. It’s about having fun and making new friends. For me it was more than that thought. It had given me the confidence and made me realise that even though I’m 58 I can do whatever I want and feel great about doing it. I haven’t looked back and love my new life!”
We are delighted to be one of the chosen finalists by UK Active’s #ActiveLab initiative. We look forward to being a part of this exciting project!
With the UK’s physical inactivity epidemic costing £20bn each year and causing 37,000 deaths, the need to find innovative ways to inspire active lifestyles has never been more pressing. Backed by founding partners AXA PPP and Tech City UK, ActiveLab aims to stimulate scalable health solutions that can help to overcome one of society’s biggest challenges.