Monday, 6 August 2012

I have finally run the entire London Underground

Sunday the 5th August - the day I finally completed running the entire London Underground. 9 months of effort, 12 tube lines, 272 stops, around 450 miles of running, 40 runs, 30 half marathons, fractured feet, strained backs, torn muscles. £21,780 raised for one amazing charity.

12 months ago I took lunch and sat on a bench outside my building when I launched Twitter. Harry Moseley's mum had tweeted a picture of Harry - that picture was to shape my life for the next 12 months. Harry, for those who don't know, was, is, an incredible young man. Diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour at the age of 7, Harry decided he wanted to help others to ensure they didn't suffer like him. So despite being gravely ill Harry made bracelets to make money for his campaign 'Help Harry Help Others'. That day in August though was the day Harry had an operation, at just 11, to remove part of a tumour. Harry was to never wake from this operation.

As I sat there and clicked the picture, it opened up to show Harry, an unconscious Harry, hugging a teddy bear. It also showed a hugely swollen head, a cut head, his eyes were shut but he looked in such pain. This picture should not be allowed to exist. An 11 year old should be happy, care free, enjoying his life. Harry looked so battered, so bruised, he looked so very tired. People flanked me left and right on the bench but I could not help my uncontrollable sobbing. I got up and I ran. Whenever I get upset I run. No idea why but it’s always been the same – whenever I get really upset, no matter where I am, I just run. I have cried 4 times as an adult – when my granddad died, when my Nan died, when my friend died and that picture. I ran from Aldgate all the way to Baker Street because I was so upset. No idea why I chose that route. No idea why I stopped at Baker Street. It was 2PM, I was sitting on a step with cut feet (I’d been running in work shoes), I was out of breath, I was upset and it then dawned on me…I was meant to be at work. I quickly got up and jumped on the tube. I got on the Circle line train to Aldgate and the whole way I sat staring at the photo of Harry and knowing I needed to do something. I needed to raise money, raise awareness – I needed to help. I could not look at another photo, of a young person, like that ever again. But what could I do?

I knew it had to be fairly off the wall. I knew I wanted to raise money quickly and I wanted to do it – whatever ‘it’ was quickly so that I could get the money to his charity quickly. Great Portland Street arrived and went. Still thinking. Euston Square been and gone. Still thinking. Kings Cross done and dusted. Still thinking. Then I realised, I was travelling on the tube where I’d just run. I was doing the exact same route. I looked up at the Circle line map that was on the tube. I counted the stops and stood up. It all just clicked. Suddenly I knew. I would run the Circle line. Now that may seem to be a strange epiphany but it felt right. I felt it in my gut. But it had to be made tougher, more ridiculous, for people to donate. So I decided I would run the Circle line on Saturday, August 20. That gave me 6 days. I would set a fundraising target of £1500. It is at this point I should say that my run from Aldgate to Baker Street is the furthest I have ever run – I am not a runner. Still how far could the Circle line be?

I got back to my desk, red faced and bloodied feet, and immediately put the process documents on the floor. I had 4 missed calls on my desk phone and 13 emails. They would wait. I jumped straight on to Google and launched Google Maps. I put all the stations in. It turned out the Circle line was quite far! Scrap that, very far. The Circle line was 19 miles. It’s at moments like this that I ring my dad. I attempt to seek confirmation, reassurance, that I Steven James Henry Whyley can do what I am suggesting. My dad, the oracle, can give me that confirmation.

“You want to do what?”
“It’s how far?”
“You want to raise how much?”

My dad was in. I’d persuaded him we could do this. It was settled – I would run all 19 miles of the Circle line on Saturday and I would raise £1500 in the process – all money raised going to Harry’s charity.

Ten minutes later and I had set up a Justgiving site. A Justgiving site is a cool way to collect money – it’s like your own website and saves you from having to go round with a bucket to collect money. My site had a target of £1500 and so far £0 had been raised. I put together an email (at work!) and sent it to my whole department. The email was pretty simple:

Afternoon All,

As you know I am quite a stupid person. It is because I am a stupid person that I have decided to run all 19 miles of the Circle line on Saturday. I have done no training. I am not a runner. Now I know you guys are not stupid people. Look at this photo – let’s help raise money for this boy’s amazing charity and if we do and others like us do then you’ll never have to see this type of photo again. is the link. I promise to do more work if you sponsor me.


52 minutes later and I had raised £160.

I put on Facebook a status requesting money and asking if anyone fancied running with me. Three people immediately messaged me – Shaun Purvis, Luke Butler and Martin Chapman. They all messaged me saying ‘Yes, yes they would run’. Two other girls - Chloe Garrard and Becky Eighteen also said they wanted to run.

That was it - 6 of us - would run the circle line. We did run the circle line, it was very, very difficult but we'd done it. I went off to do some travelling and that was the end of the tube running madness.

In October Harry died.

At this point I knew I wanted to do more, to help contribute to the brilliant charity Harry had set up. I said to the original runners that I would try and run every single tube line on the London Underground. All 450 miles of it. I would run every single run and then the guys would help me when they could.

In October I started, without training, and ran all 22 miles of the Bakerloo line, after work. This is the thing that a lot of people do not realise about this challenge - a lot of it happens after work. I, along with my dad and a mate or two, take a tube out to our destination - often an hour away, and then run back as far in as we could. My dad works out the route for me, I run with google maps on my phone in my hand and meet my dad every 3 stops for a water and a Mars. We often didn't get home til 10 or 11 that night and then I'd have to get up for work the next day. It was brutal - more brutal than I could of imagined.

I had set a target of £10,000 that I wanted to raise - hugely ambitious and almost certainly unachievable. But I find, if you set improbable goals then it makes you try that much harder to turn the improbable probable.

So we ran. We ran out to places like Harrow, Heathrow, Uxbridge, Epping, Chesham, Watford, Upminster and ran in all weathers, at all times. Over the 9 months Martin Chapman and Luke Butler must have run 25-30 runs - they've been incredible. Shaun Purvis, Chloe Garrard and Becky Eighteen have all run at least 5 runs but importantly they've all raised massive sums of money for the charity. It's incredible what these people have done.

August 5th 2012, I had just run 6 half marathons in 12 days. Most of those with Luke and Martin - but some with special appearances from friends. The support we've received has been incredible - from Twitter to Facebook, so many have got behind us. We've had over 330 donations. Incredible how generous people are - never give on people because they continue to amaze.

Our final run - Preston Road to Aldgate. One of the most amazing days of my life - I'd got to the end and my dad was here for it. My dad had had a stroke whilst all of this running was going on and for him to be back was all the inspiration I needed to finish. Amazingly we were joined by Mitch Wilson and the UK karate team. We were also joined by tens of friends. By the end of the run there were 30 people running and at the finishing line there were 20 people waiting for us. At least 50 people came up to support us.

I have run in quite a bit of pain but the support I have received has numbed all of that pain - it has been simply incredible.

All that's left for me to say is that we made the improbable probable - we raised £21,780. We ran the entire London Underground. Truth be told I started these runs for Harry, to help Harry and his charity. When I crossed that finishing line though, I realised Harry has helped me. I've made so many friends, fallen in love, forged such a close relationship with my dad that I will be forever grateful for, and realised that I can do anything I want if I want it enough. If I am inspired. And if I surround myself with great people.

Thank you all so much for helping me finish this. £21,780 to Harry's charity - that's a full time salary for a nurse to help families like Harry deal with brain cancer. I may have done some running, but you made the difference.

And as for the London Underground - 150 years old today, you changed my life.

Please Sponsor -

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The tube is almost conquered, a big thanks from me

So here it is - I am in to my final week. After 37 runs, 30 half marathons, 1 marathon, a fractured foot, torn cartilage in my knee, approaching 500 miles run, 12 lines completed, 264 tube stops visited, countless Mars bars and over £12,000 raised for Harry Moseley's charity I have just 3 runs left. Thank God!

The last few runs I have found particularly difficult - I went out to Watford on Saturday with 3 of my mates - Martin, Luke and Dave, we were hungover but still ran about 15k. Note to self - never run when hungover. It was on this run that I realised how much I hate hills! The run from Chorleywood to Ricksmansworth was disgustingly hilly and went under the M25. This run though was my favourite run so far, the reason is pretty simple - my dad was back! My dad who'd had a stroke around 2 months ago was back with Mars bars, back with gel's and back with his London A-Z - the thing that we started together, we would finish together. Harry was the reason I started this but without doubt my dad is the reason I have finished this.

Tonight I am running from Uxbridge to Rayners Lane by myself. Thursday I am running with Luke from Moor Park to Wembley park and then on Sunday, with the help of 40 or so friends I am running from Wembley Park to Aldgate - Aldgate is where it all began.

I'll write a proper blog post after all of these runs. But for now I just want to say a massive thank you. I wanted to raise a £1000 for a hugely inspiring boy - someone who showed me that to make a difference you have to be selfless, you have to be brave. More important than any of this he showed me that not enough is known about brain cancer, not enough is done to combat it, and that children up and down the country are dying because of a disease that we don't know much about. He wanted to help others, he wanted to make sure that none suffered his fate - whilst he can't do this himself anymore he has inspired countless people to get off their backsides and help. Help Harry Help Others.

I wanted to raise a £1000. I dreamt of raising £10,000 but had no idea how I'd do that. My friends and I have now raised over £12,000. I even won a community award from RBS (nominated by an incredibly kind guy called Gopalkrishna) this meant a further £250 to my total. All of this, this money raised, was made possible by how incredibly generous family, friends and strangers have been. You've totally blown me away.

I am not a runner. I did no training. I didn't change my diet. I never, ever really thought I could do this but you guys - the people who sponsored me, text me, encouraged me - got me round and for that I am truly grateful.

It's been the single toughest thing I have ever done but it has changed my life. If you take anything from the countless blog posts I have written - if you want something to change then you have to be the one to change it. Don't wait for something to happen, go make it happen. Harry did.

Thanks for all your support. 3 runs to go. Final run Sunday (you're welcome to join us).

Help Harry Help Others -

Thank you

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Time to stop moaning

Last night, after work, I jumped on a tube from Aldgate and travelled 85 minutes on the Met line to it's furthest point - Chesham, all the way out in zone 9. My mate Martin joined me - we were armed with a bank card, a key, a phone and a travel card and some running shoes, questionable running shoes. We were due to run a half marathon in the intense heat after work.

It was fair to say, as with most of the runs, I was dreading this. We'd not get there until around 18.30, we'd run for 2 hours and not get home until 21:30. Martin would get home an hour later. It was baking hot and we'd just run a few days before - another half marathon - and as most of you know my body has long since given up on me so running is proving really difficult.

If this wasn't bad enough then the news that greeted us when we got to Chalfont was about to make our evening a whole lot worse. The Chesham line was suspended. The tube would be going to Amersham. If you go on to Google Maps you'll see why we wanted to start at Chesham - it goes Chesham, Amersham, Chalfont, Chorleywood etc - that's the order these places exist. We were faced with having to run from Amersham to Chesham (over 2 miles away) and then run all the way back again to then continue the rest of the tube stops we had planned to run.

Off we set and for 2.5 miles we ran downhill - it was literally all downhill. Sheeps grazed in fields, trees from the forest and park overhung the roads and the heat was really suffocating but at least it was downhill. The problem was though that we had to run back it up. We had to run around 2.5 miles up hill. Normally, for most people, this would be ok but such is the state of my ankles, knees and back this was going to be such a difficult task.

I rung my dad and he gave me a few words of encouragement. I turned my iPod on full volume and off Martin and I went. We decided to run at our own pace so Martin went around 20 yards ahead of me. We must have been running for 40 minutes, in the heat, up the most savage of hills. I don't know what kept me going to be honest. I was shouting at myself, out loud, to keep going. To put one foot in front of the other. I was making such noise that sheep were running away from me! We got to the top of the hill and got back to where we started - Amersham. We took on some water and decked a Mars bar.

We'd been running for an age but still had 3 stops, 8ish miles left to go. I was out on my feet. Nevertheless 1 hour 30 minutes later we made it to our destination. On the way we received 2 donations and passed through the county of Buckinghamshire. We got to the end and no shops were open so we couldn't get any water - it would be another hour until I got home and took on some water. At 10PM I had my first (and last!) ice bath to try to help me so that I can run tomorrow. I think the ice bath was worse than the hill!

We are running tomorrow in this poxy heat. We are running Saturday, then Wednesday and our final run is Sunday - when I can say I have run the entire London Underground. Last night I wish I'd never said I would attempt this. It was too big a challenge for me. I can do the odd run but I am now up to run 34 - most of those half marathons. There has also been a marathon. During this time my body has changed unrecognisably - every morning it hurts to get up. I am not after sympathy, nor am I looking to moan. I am just trying to describe how difficult I am finding this challenge. But as I write those words imagine how an 11 year old with a tumour the size of a tennis ball must feel. How does he begin to summon the courage to carry on? How does he continue to get out of bed and smile? How does he continue to raise money for others? All these things Harry did. It's time I stopped describing how difficult this thing is and realise how easy I have it. I am trying to run the underground - that is it. What he did, now that is brave. Help me help Harry to help others - sponsor me - the pain I am feeling will go next Sunday. Harry and his family were never afforded that luxury. That's wrong.


Monday, 23 July 2012

5 to go

We completed the Victoria line the other night. Martin and I got the tube out to Walthamstow which is the dogs - a really grim place. We got there, after work, and in the rain knowing that we had a two hour run ahead of us. We'd pick up my mate Luke on the Way - at Finsbury Park. My dad had worked out the route for us and I'd ring him every two stops to keep him updated on progress, as since his stroke he can no longer come up and lug bags around. Logistically it is now quite hard for us - I take my bank card, Oyster card, a key and my RBS pass - that is it. I can't run with a bag so I have to make sure I am not holding too much. I also have my phone which helps me navigate the streets of London.

I started this 8 months ago and I ate shockingly and had aches and pains back then and I'd never run more than 10k. Fast forward 8 months and I still eat shockingly, much to the annoyance of my girlfriend and mum, and who knows what damage I have done but I am pot committed now - I need to finish, for so many reasons. We ran 13 miles of the Victoria line the other night and 13 miles doesn't sound a lot but my body failed a long time ago. A stress fracture to the foot, torn cartilage in both knees and a bad back injury means that 13 miles is now the equivalent to me of a marathon.

Walthamstow to Blackhorse road followed by the riot town of Tottenham Hale. Rain was falling and I was seriously fed up. We then ran up the Seven Sisters hill, bought a Mars bar, took some abuse from some people in a car and met Luke at Finsbury Park. Luke was wearing skinny green jeans and had to end up running with a bag! An hour and 10 minutes later, after already running for an hour and 10 minutes, we made it. I couldn't really walk, Martin was blowing out of his ar5e and Luke was ready for bed. But we'd done it, another line. I rang my dad who was chuffed and my girlfriend ordered me a dominos and ran me a bath. The dream - a dominos in the bath! The next morning I could not move!

We only have five runs left - just over 60 miles and I have 13 days to complete them in. Only problem is, is that it is the Metropolitan line - the line that goes out to Zone 9 - all other tube lines go to zone 6.

Tonight my friend and I have to get an 85 minute tube journey to Chesham, we then need to run for 2 hours maybe 3 hours to cover 5 stops and then we have to get a 70 minute tube home. The earliest I'll be home is 11 tonight but it has to be done because you guys have been amazing and sponsored us ( and money needs to be raised to make sure more children don't suffer like Harry did.

We are running tonight, Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday and then the final run - Harrow to Aldgate on the 5th August. Feel free to join us for that one. I got some amazing news - my dad is coming up for the final run. He's been there every step of the way and crossing the finishing line with him will mean more to me than anything. For now, if you live in the Chesham area and see some fed up guys in PJ bottoms - buy them a Mars bar cos they'll need it!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Six to go

I have been a bit quiet of late with regard to the running of the tube. The good news is that the runs have continued and we only have 6 runs to go.

We have now run every single line apart from the Metropolitan line. We have run and completed the Waterloo and City, Northern, District, Circle, Central, Jubilee, Piccadilly, Hammersmith and City and the Bakerloo. We have run half of the Victoria line which we will finish on Wednesday and then just have the beast that is the Metropolitan line. We hope to complete it in the next 3 weeks with our final run being a marathon.

It has been quite a journey. Originally when we set this up we were just going to run the Circle line and we hoped to raise £1500 for Harry Moseley's charity. 9 months on and we have almost run the entire London Underground and you have helped us raise in excess of £11,000. I have now run over 30 times in 9 months - a commitment that has really tested me. I have torn the cartilage in my knee, I fractured my foot and continued to run on it for four weeks which was naive! My dad appeared for every single run but then sadly had a stroke and has therefore not attended the last few runs. Running without him has been the most difficult thing about the run - he helped me carry on when I was in so much pain that I wanted to stop. Harry was the inspiration for me to begin these runs but my dad is the reason I am still putting PJ bottoms on and running every Wednesday night/Saturday day. He still maps out every route for me. Whilst he is not physically there, I ring him every two stops and he has the route in front of him, tells me where to go, asks me how I am feeling, and keeps me going. I owe it to him to get this done.

The runs have taken over my life. You'd think running 10-20 miles a week would be pretty easy but I am not an athlete and since week 3 or 4 I have been running in pain. I find it very hard to motivate myself to run from Dagenham to Tower Hill, in the rain, after work but I know I had to do it because I made a promise to do it. But also raising the money - quiz nights, bracelets, emails, facebook messages, twitter messages, events - they all take planning and time but they all help to raise much needed money.

On this journey I have had amazing support and we've raised an amazing sum of money. Truth be told - I can't wait for it to finish. I never realised the enormity of the task or what it would do to me both mentally and physically. But sometimes you just have to dig deep and realise that the pain you're feeling is nothing compared to what Harry, his family and countless other children like him experience on a daily basis. Children who get diagnosed with terminal brain cancer is a sentence that is just not right. We have to find a cure and the only way to do that is to raise awareness and to raise money. All you can do is your bit and you have all done your bit.

As for what happens at the end of the runs? A much needed break. I have applied for the London Marathon next year and if I get a place I will take on 7 marathons in 7 days in 7 countries. I will raise money for Harry and also for a Stroke charity that helps people less fortunate than my dad who have been devastating side effects. I'll leave it to fate if I end up running it - yes it'll be tough if I do but sometimes you have to get off your arse and be the change you want to see.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Another reason to run

After a 5 week break due to a fractured foot I am one week away from returning to running. I will be running from Uxbridge to Acton Town - around a half marathon. I have 9 runs left and we have raised over £11,000 for Help Harry Help Others. When I begin my next run there will be one man missing - my dad.

My dad has joined me for all 24 runs that I have done so far. Whatever the weather, no matter how cold or how wet, he has been there. He lives in Southend and every single week, sometimes twice a week, he pays over £15 to get a train ticket to come and meet me and the guys. He brings with him a bag of treats - Mars bars, waters, glucose gels, spare clothes, a towel - you name it he brings it. He also works out all the routes for us and meets us at the station that we run from. We then dump on to him all of our bags - sometimes my dad has 4-5 bags that he has to lug around London with him. My dad then would meet us every 3 stops to give us a water, a gel or a much needed pep talk to keep us going. This was so, so important when I have been injured - he gave me the strength to carry on. My dad would wait until we finished - sometimes as late as 10 or 11 at night. That means he wouldn't get back to his bed until midnight or later. My friends and I have run 350 miles so far but this would not have been possible without my dad - this is a fact.

Unfortunately my dad suffered a small stroke on Saturday but the great news is that he seems fine and in good health. However his pack horse days are over. We can't ask him to carry 4-5 bags anymore and wait at grotty tube stops handing out waters. He will be there for the last run though, to run over the line with us.

I originally started running to raise money for Harry's charity - I was inspired by Harry to keep going, to run through pain at times and he was my inspiration. Now I have two people who inspire me. I make a promise to you old man - we'll finish the tube together, you may not be able to be there in person but you'll still be the one who is helping me get one foot in front of the other. Get well soon.


Sunday, 22 April 2012

Thank you

I read a report the other day. In it it said 4785 people were diagnosed with brain tumours in the UK. 3794 people died. That is a percentage of 79%. In 2012 this figure is unacceptable.

Harry Moseley, was 11 years old, and he was one of the 3794 that died. Of the 3794 that died 10% were children aged under 12.

I have lost 2 grandparents to cancer, a friend to cancer and whilst I didn’t personally know Harry I ‘lost’ him to cancer too. 1550 children under the age of 12 will get told they have terminal cancer. To put it another way – the primary school I went to and the primary school you went to equals half the number of children who died from cancer last year. The problem we have is that we accept these stats. We accept that children under the age of 12 are dying. We accept that cancer kills children. We accept it because we do nothing to help fight it, beat it, kill it. We know it’s going on but we don’t do anything. However those that read this blog post, those who are thinking ‘hang on this is unfair’ are right – it is unfair. Because every single one of you has stood up and done something. Every single one of you has given time, given money, given support and said ‘you know what I want to do something’. Every single one of you has helped my friends and I raise £10,250.

We raised this last week and are incredibly proud that we have achieved our figure of £10,000. People say to me that donating money is not the hard bit and what my friends and I are doing is the hard bit. That’s bullshit. You should be given so much credit. From all over the world you have sponsored us, given us your time, given us your support, sent texts, made calls, and helped us. All we do is run. We run because we have inspiration – inspiration from a child that showed me that I wanted to do something to change the stats. To change lives. But if you didn’t donate. If you didn’t spread the word about Harry, his charity, his bracelets, his story – then my friends and I are just 7 idiots running in Pyjama bottoms.

I desperately want to change the stats. I want to do that more than I have wanted to do anything my whole life and you guys are making that happen. I promise that I will keep running if you keep sponsoring, keep spreading the word about this amazing boy and if you keep standing up and saying ‘this is unacceptable’.

When I decided to run I wanted to raise £10,000 but I had very little confidence that I’d make it. But then I underestimated people and how great they can be. £10,000 – that’s a lot of money and that’s all your doing, not ours. From all of us we owe you a big thank you. Stats are there to be changed you just need to want to change them. With more friends like you cancer doesn’t stand a chance.

We have 8 runs remaining, my foot is fractured at the moment but will be ok in a few weeks and then we will finish our runs which include two marathons. We’ve raised £10,000 together, let’s see how much more we can raise. We’ve run 350 miles let’s see how much further we can run. Who knows, we may have saved a childs life, let’s see, together, how many more we can save.