Founder of Olney-based international development charity Advantage Africa spent several years with severe back pain before having spinal surgery. Just a year after his recovery from the operation, he has completed the Robin Hood Marathon.
Andrew's battle was featured in the local Chronicle and Echo after Andrew met his surgeon, Mr. Basu in Northampton before the run (see right).
He ran the marathon in 5 hours, 5 minutes and 23 seconds and raised £2,417!
He said: "All the donations and messages helped keep me going when it felt like I really had nothing left, and the funds raised will really advance our work with people affected by poverty, disability and HIV across east Africa."
The money will support a project in Obambo which includes a nursery school for 80 young boys and girls, a nutritious daily meal for a further 120 orphaned and vulnerable children, care for 25 families affected by HIV, and a village clinic.
This is Andrew's account of the race:
"My friend and fellow runner Tom Bartlett and I had breakfast together in Olney and drove up to Nottingham early so we had plenty of time to get ready and soak up the pre-race atmosphere. As we crossed the start line among thousands of others, I noticed that the vast majority were running the half marathon (13.1 miles) or the mini marathon (2.5 miles). Then we were off, jostling among a throng of runners each with their own goals and story to tell.
Before long we were climbing hills round Nottingham castle, which was a bit of a shock, but there were plenty of people cheering us on. Nottingham’s parks, waterways and historic buildings were a distraction from the pain emerging in my knees, and the shade of the trees provided some relief from the hot sun. At mile 8, Tom’s friends Wendy and Alex took our photo and encouraged us forward, and at the 13-mile race split we lost the half marathoners.
This was new territory for me as I’d never run more than a half marathon before. I still had energy in my legs and for the first time I knew I could do it. His pace-making done (and perhaps realising I was going to be all right), Tom surged forward at his naturally faster pace, and I kept plodding away, refueling on the move with water, sports gels, jelly babies and applying the occasional daub of Vaseline proffered by the St John Ambulance to delay the inevitable chafing.
At mile 18, I passed a woman lying on the ground moaning in agony as she was attended by paramedics and noticed the number of sirens around me increasing. The pain in my legs was just awful but I was determined enough to keep running through it - and overcome the indignity of being overtaken by a banana. Other competitors were stopping to walk but I feared that if I did the same my legs might seize up and I’d struggle to get going again. At mile 19, the ‘motivation station’ announcer saw ‘Andrew’ written on my T-shirt and urged me by name through the infamous ‘wall’.
Now every mile felt like two, and my mile times kept falling. My head was throbbing, my knees grating, my muscles spent and nausea was setting in; I felt as if I was going to throw up and I couldn’t even drink any more water. I was thinking constantly of why I’d decided to this, all the messages on my JustGiving page, the donations everyone had made and the people Advantage Africa helps, particularly the orphaned children in Obambo and Muzinda. In my mind, I started to break up the remaining miles into chunks that I’d done during my training and at 24 miles I knew all I had left to do was run round the block from my home in Olney.
As I neared 5 hours on my feet, the spectators became few and far between and those that cheered me by name became particularly important; I didn’t want to let them down either by breaking into a walk. The 26 mile marker eventually arrived but I was saving every ounce of remaining energy, and all my relief, for the finish 385 yards later.
I crossed the line, stopped running, took my medal and my body submitted to a wobble; a friendly woman in scout uniform grabbed my arm to stop me falling over and sat me down in a chair. Then the emotion came; the sense of relief and achievement as I realised I had actually done it - I had just run a marathon. "
http://www.justgiving.com/Andrew-Betts is the link if you would like to sponsor Andrew - it's not too late!