Athletics: Monsoon, drunk youths . . . but my run goes on!

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Running enthusiast Michael Nowicki would probably be the first to admit he never envisaged a road sign saying “Welcome to York” would one day make him so emotional.

However, for what this inspirational figure has already achieved in the most gruelling challenge he has ever undertaken, you can’t really blame him.

Edinburgh recreation nurse Nowicki is currently just over halfway in his epic battle to conquer Britain on foot, running from London to Edinburgh in hope of raising £10,000 for the charity Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).

He said: “It was a huge moment as it represented me reaching half way so when I saw the sign I felt really emotional. It was unbelievable.”

A charity which is very close to his heart in both a work and personal capacity is sure to benefit enormously from the challenge. He has now been on the road for over a week since setting off from central London last Sunday and admits he couldn’t wait to begin his journey ‘home’.

“I was nervous,” he recalls. “I was keen to get started and get out on the road. I was ready but the first day in London resembled a monsoon and it was really cold. There were huge puddles on the road and it just made it that bit more tricky. I did 25 miles on the first day which was good so I was fairly pleased with how it went.”

He has encountered a few problems along the mammoth route as he heads north. Tiredness and fatigue is only to be expected but drunk youths in the early hours of the morning at a hostel in York is the last thing he hoped for when trying to catch up on some much-needed sleep. However, with flood warnings in full and canals and rivers visibly overflowing en route to Peterborough, Nowicki was forced into a decision he really had no option but to take.

“A policeman came up to me about ten miles into the stage and asked what I was doing in shorts. I said to him I was running to Peterborough which he replied “No you’re not”. He then told me the only way I could get there was by the A1 but of course, runners are not allowed on the main roads. He said to take the train which I ended up having to do so I was gutted but it did give me a chance to recover for the next stage. Seeing the water overflow, there was a worry I could be washed away.”

However, Nowicki has also been surprised by some of the support received as he makes his way through the different towns and cities. His arrival in Grantham created quite a stir within the local community as many gathered to watch his arrival and see the man who is running 443 miles in just 15 days.

Paul Wilson, a member of the Grantham Rotary Club, had been in touch and ran the last four miles with him and, when they arrived in Grantham, there was a big welcoming party with the local press being there. “It was fantastic and something I won’t forget,” said Nowicki who is set to arrive in the Capital on Sunday.

“I can’t wait to get home and see my family as I’ve really missed them but I know it will be all worth the effort.”