Where on earth to start….? Dawn I suppose, which on that bright-ish breezy 30 September day on Highbury Fields in London was 6.59am
Dawn Til Dusk is the brainchild of our Mini Mermaid and Young Tritons UK director, Hannah (Spanner) Corne. She first mentioned it to me, slipping it very causally into the conversation during our weekly (ish) phonecall at the beginning of September. Trial it in London she said, it’ll be great we agreed, I’ll come down for it she said, ok fab I said. Shortly after, I went on holiday to relax, with a head full of new ideas and knowing there was a lot to do and even more to learn about organising a fundraising campaign and event like this!
Fast forward a month or so and A LOT of lessons learned with a huge amount of help from our online fundraising partner, Podium Partners and a very late night (there were lots of these!) followed by an even earlier morning cutting out moon and sunshine sourdough bread shapes, it was time to run. All day!
Nine runners, seven Mini Mermaids and their families, three parkrun runners and a dog called Flora moved in a continuous relay style throughout the entire 11hrs and 43 minutes. We carried Mini Mermaid with us all the way in the form of one of our fabulous medals (we these give out at the end of the 5k challenges following our 6 or 8 week programmes), tied to a hair band to be sure we didn’t drop her (ahem!).
I’m glad to say the event was, well, uneventful. We achieved our goal, have so far raised over £800, ate wonderful pizza, gorgeous bread with lush peanut butter and nibbled on pieces of lovely granola and flapjack bars. All washed down with bottles of water; everything was donated by some very generous local businesses and really helped to keep us going. No one got injured, which is still a big surprise to me considering none of us had trained for this or been running for much more than 5k at a time for months, or ever!
We’ve been awarded some funding for the equipment required for our programmes in London like medals, certificates, t-shirts, journals, pens etc. from The VINCI Foundation and our sponsor Dave from Eurovia South, part of Eurovia UK came to the event to present us with a BIG CHEQUE, along with his colleague Bill and Bill’s daughter Katie who took some great photos, thank you. We’re fundraising to try to match the money from VINCI so we can offer free or heavily subsidised programmes in some of the most deprived areas of Hackney and Islington where after school and community programmes wouldn’t otherwise be able to take place. We’re so very grateful for the funding and to everyone who gave up some of their Saturday to come and support us.
We all enjoyed the running, even though things started to hurt towards the end every time another lap came around for each of us. I was glad of the challenge, asking people to give money isn’t always easy and I wanted to hurt a bit to justify their generosity as well as to feel extra good once it was over! I don’t know how to get across the atmosphere of the event, or the happy expressions on people’s faces or the excited giggles and general chit chat or even the slightly low point mid way through when the day already felt very long. What stays with me most about the day is the community spirit that shone through and I’d love to be able to translate that in some way for you.
Whenever a Mini Mermaid chooses to get involved in running or moving their body in any way, that’s always a positive thing for their physical and mental health and makes us all smile. Being able to take the time to chat a bit more to the parents who brought their girls along on the day was a real bonus and felt pretty special. Highbury Fields parkrun gave us a lovely shoutout as one of our runners carried Mini Mermaid during the whole event staying with the tail runner to be sure our relay didn’t interrupt anyone. So many people out and about in the park came over to chat with us and ask what we were up to. We even saw one group three times during the day out walking their dogs. At the start we were strangers, by the end we knew names and chatted freely. It does give me the warm fuzzies meeting new people, especially locals. Hannah and I had been chatting the night before about the benefit of starting Mini Mermaid Running Club at my most local primary school before starting to grow and offer it to new schools. I hadn’t appreciated how much difference keeping it local would make, and it’s during events like Dawn Til Dusk as well as parkrun that I really understand and feel the real active community connection we’ve made here and are continuing to develop. All the hellos and high fins when out and about in Newington Green really do make my day and I hope things continue to feel local enough as we start new programmes in Islington and neighbouring borough Hackney.
Local businesses also gave us some great gifts so we could hold a prize draw which brought smiles to many faces the following Monday when handing them out. There are many memories from the day that I hope will linger for a very long time.
It was kind of local councillor Jenny Kay and deputy mayor of Islington Dave Poyser to pay us a visit towards the end of the event.
Supporting friends, family, the community, local businesses, strangers and park users including those with four legs, THANK YOU from us all!
It truly was a tremendous day and for the runners out there here are some stats:
Over 120 miles run
Countless laps of Highbury Fields
11 hrs 43 minutes of non stop running
1 super supportive parkrun
A tribe of mini, mama and papa mermaids
A community full of positivity, connections and joy
1 deputy mayor striping off in the park to squeeze into our t-shirt
1 councillor commending our work
Plenty of smiles, giggles and high fins!
A cracking amount of money raised to help develop Mini Mermaids and Young Tritons in Hackney and Islington!
It really does take a community to do something like this and although our tired legs are now feeling fresher, the happy hearts we left with stay full of joy and hope that we can encourage more young people to lead a balanced life with higher levels of self esteem than the current stats confirm. If we can help them understand that strength isn’t only about your body, but your mind and what’s in your heart too, while really truly falling in love with movement, then we’ll be doing our job.
The parkrun runners:
Special guest runner:
Flora the dog
The local businesses that supported us:
Oi Vita - pizza and more
Shine Holistic - hair, health, beauty
Newington Green Fruit & Veg
Mother Earth - cafe & shop
Shaun - maker of Shaun’s Nuts Bar
Gallo Nero - Italian deli
Dandy - restaurant, cafe, bakery
Belle Epoque Patisserie
It was the end of European Week of Sport and we were most certainly part of the #beactive campaign.
You can still support our campaign if you’d like to here. Brittany is hoping to start volunteering with us in the near future and is running the New York Marathon on 5th November. She's generously raising money for our campaign, so please help her motivation on the day by making a donation if you can.
So where to finish…? Dusk of course, 6.42pm. Swiftly followed by a very long train journey back home to Leeds for Hannah and fish n chips with mushy peas & champagne for the rest of us!