We catch up with Grant's Counsell, our second JustTextGiving Fittest Fundraiser challenge winner, to see how he's been getting on so far.

great edinburgh run

“Some of the runs have been harder than I thought they were going to be,” Grant Counsell says as we catch up about the JustTextGiving Fittest Fundraiser challenge. He’s one half of our duo of winners who’re running seven of the Bupa Great Runs in 2013, and now we’re half way through it’s time to see how he’s been getting on.

Thankfully, we’ve found out that despite hills and hot weather, the experience so far has changed Grant’s outlook on running for good…

The story so far…

grant_counsell“Gateshead was a lot more hilly than I thought it was going to be,” Grant explains, echoing our other winner Sophie Mullins’ thoughts on the Bupa Great North 10K. “The end of the race comes up from the quayside, up the banks of the Tyne to the stadium, so you run five miles and then it’s uphill until you get to the last 300 yards in the stadium.

“But then finishing in the stadium was quite a good experience! Running round the last 300 metres of a track that Mo Farah had run round the day before was quite cool!”

“I was expecting Edinburgh to be hilly,” he continues, “but it was just very, very hot; when we got to the start line at 9.30 it was already 23 degrees. There were a couple of parts where there was a breeze, but not much at all. That one was quite slow just because it was so hot, but it was great. There were bagpipes on the way round and things like that, so it was good fun.”


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When pressed, Grant tells us it’s hard to pick a favourite, although there is an unlikely contender among the ranks. As well as the Bupa Great Runs in the JustTextGiving Fittest Fundraiser challenge, Grant’s also recently run the Karimor Challenge – a 22km off-road slog through the heart of the Lake District.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically,” he tells us. “I’m not a natural athlete, really, and I’ve only been training to do 10K races. I had in my head that I was going to walk up the hills and run down them. That’s what I did, but it was still 3 hours and 40 minutes. Really hard work!”

Shifting perspectives

Grant may not describe himself as a natural athlete, but even so, he’s still looking forward to the remaining runs in the challenge:

“I’m looking forward to the Bupa Great North Run because it’s such an iconic event,” he says. “The atmosphere when we ran in Manchester was totally different from any others because of the amount of people. There were 40,000 people running that, and 56,000 are doing the Great North, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

What’s great is, Grant tells us that he’s seen a real shift in how he sees running throughout the JustTextGiving Fittest Fundraiser challenge, and – better still – that’s been reflected in his run times:

“Now I actually look forward to going out and finding different routes and places to run.”

“When we did Gateshead, I knocked three minutes off the time I did in Manchester, and I managed to actually run rather than drag my feet to the finish line. It’s definitely getting easier. The upshot of that is that initially, I wasn’t enjoying the training, whereas now I actually look forward to going out and finding different routes and places to run. My attitude’s changed to it quite a bit,” he says. “I didn’t think that would happen!”

All that said, Grant is also keen to finally giving his tired legs a break: “I’m also kind of looking forward to the finish line in Portsmouth,” he says jokingly, “because that’ll be the end of it! Job done!”

All for a good cause

So why would a self-professed running novice put himself through all this? For a really worthy cause. Using JustTextGiving, Grant’s raising money for Cancer Research – a cause that’s especially close to his heart.

“I’m currently about £150 off of half way to my target. When I complete the Great South Run, though, if all the money that’s been pledged from everywhere comes through then I’ll have made it. But every donation helps.”

To support Grant and donate to Cancer Research, you can text RUGC80 and your chosen amount (for example, FAST61 £3) to 70070, to donate using JustTextGiving.

Keep on running… Stay tuned for more from Grant’s JustTextGiving Fittest Fundraiser challenge experience. In the mean time, check out our other winner Sophie Mullins’ side of the story. There’s loads more info on the Fittest Fundraiser challenge here.