Race for Charity

Race for Charity

Race for charity, is not just a motto for a team of Asian runners in North London – it is a living reality which connects their strong culture of service to the challenge of distance running posed by the London Marathon.

Known only to the local newsagent, baker, butcher and coffee shop down Stanmore’s Broadway, each year a fresh group of local residents gather near the Lidl every Sunday morning at the crack of dawn to pound the streets of Stanmore and neighbouring boroughs. Organised, coached and supported by local resident Piyush Gudka and friends, this year’s Flora London Marathon marks their seventh year in training.

Over this period more than 60 novice runners have joined the Stanmore Running Group and followed the gruelling and structured programme, covering more than 12,000 miles between them – or to put it another way, half way around the world. Most had little experience in running, and some had never run prior to taking on a mammoth marathon challenge. Despite this, 59 out of the 60 went on to compete and complete marathons in London, Dublin and Berlin.

“The secret is all in the coaching, motivation and support” says Shila Shah, one of the Group’s long running members. The Stanmore Running Group was started by Piyush Gudka, who is an experienced marathon runner having competed in 26 marathons and has raced in a major marathon on each of the 6 continents in under 11 months. Having lived in Stanmore for over 10 years, Piyush knows the surrounding area extremely well and finds the varied terrain an ideal training ground. He has designed Harrow, Barnet and Hertfordshire running routes that are functional in improving fitness and conditioning the body while still taking in the glorious sights that these regions have to offer, such as Stanmore Common, Harrow Weald Common, Old Redding, Edgwarebury Farm, Totteridge Village, Elstree Film Studios, Aldenham Reservoir and Letchmore Heath, The schedule reaches a climax when the Group completes a 25mile ‘Stanmore Marathon’ in preparation for their big Marathon day.

All this could not be managed without the Group’s Supporters organised by Rasik Shah, who, with the help of volunteers, ensures the Stanmore Running Group receive fluids and nutrition – and vital smiling moral support – at various checkpoints throughout the long runs. “I’ve trained for marathons before, but this is the first time I have come across such a fun and supportive group. You feel confident during the run – and if you are having a bad day then you will meet a smiling face and in the worst case, get a ride home if need be!”, says Mehul Khimasia, one of the group members.

What started off as a bunch of people passionate about health & fitness has inspired “marathon generations” to continue exercising and keeping fit. With many illnesses preventable through exercise the Stanmore Running Group are building on their history and have established a charitable organisation that will support people to take up running for fitness as well as raising awareness of the health benefits within the community. This year’s Group will have raised over £30,000 for UK charities supporting children and other causes such as the Life4Children, OneCause, Pratham, NSPCC, and the Chinmaya Mission – now perhaps it’s time to give children something even better: healthier parents.

Region: All
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Name: Piyush Gudka
Phone: 07958 553 101