A team of Reading Mencap service users took part in the world’s first disability-led mass participation run on Sunday 4th September. The event, called Parallel London, was held in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the venue for the 2012 Olympics.
Linda Lethbridge (61), Stacey Smith (26), Kate Apps (43), David Williams (51) and Jamie Shillingford (44) all decided to enter the event, with the support of the local learning disability charity. They chose distances that would challenge them, with David and Linda taking part in the 100m, Jamie and Stacey in the 1km and Kate in the 10km.
Kate explains why she decided to enter: “I wanted to do this to give something back to Reading Mencap. They have helped me a lot over the last few years, so it was an honour to take part. Thanks to Reading Mencap for making it happen.”
After some practice sessions over the last few weeks, the group left Reading in the early hours of Sunday morning to make the long journey to East London in the Reading Mencap minibus, accompanied by Reading Mencap staff. Each team member joined the hundreds of other participants to complete their chosen challenge. Afterwards, Stacey described how she felt: “I loved running. It was amazing, I can’t believe I did it! I’m so happy.”
Anyone of any ability or age could take part, including wheelchair users and people with mobility problems, with everyone given plenty of time to finish their race. This made it great for people who have never had an opportunity to do something like this before. Jamie said: “I enjoyed doing the 1km race. I feel proud of myself.” David stated that he loved the race and getting the medal, T-shirt and goody bag.
Reading Mencap’s CEO, Amanda Smith, accompanied the team to London: “What a fantastic occasion. It was so well organised and they encouraged and cheered everyone along the way. Team Reading Mencap did us proud, each one putting their full effort into it. Coming home with medals just made extra special. What a brilliant day.”