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A Medal for Jesus
by Obinna Monye
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I was on the tarmac jumping for joy as I was finally here to take part in my first ever half marathon, running to raise funds for Age UK Sheffield. In front of me and around me were thousands of runners all geared up for the BUPA Great North Run 2011. Sav, my fiancée was right on the side where I had left her with my bag, very excited for me. I was wearing my Volunteer To Jesus Get fit T-shirt, my red shorts and a pair of fairly new running shoes.

My stomach was practically empty though I had a bit of pasta with Sav the previous night in London before leaving for Newcastle Gateshead on the evening of the 17th of September 2011. I had stuffed some hambugs which I had bought from the House of Lords shop in preparation for the race. The crowd was magnificent and the music from the speakers filled the air. It was 10 am Sunday, the 18th of September.

It began to drizzle just as the race began, I walked gently behind the crowds as I waved at Sav whom had just begun to head towards the city. It took nearly forty minutes for me to get to the start line, there were over fifty-four thousand runners participating. I felt like a particle in a huge wave.

On approaching the start line, the pace picked up. I was trotting towards Mo Farah who was standing on a platform with his right hands stretched out so that runners could slap the palm of his hand as they ran past the start line, then I heard Sav scream my name. I waved at her and all I could think of was the finish line but there still was a little less than thirteen miles to go.

I could not help but notice the various charities being represented by a variety of male and female runners. I began to meditate on the causes I was running for namely, Age UK Sheffield and Volunteer To Jesus Network.

Since my appointment as a Trustee of Age UK Sheffield in April 2007, I had it in my heart to do more for the elderly, so when I was presented with the opportunity to participate in the BUPA Great North Run, I was delighted.

Volunteer To Jesus Network is my brainchild, it’s an organisation whose primary objectives are to promote our Lord Jesus Christ, world peace and positive social change.

As I brought my mind back to the race, I felt a boost in my energy levels as I dodged other runners, staying alert and ensuring that I would not bump into other runners, it was brilliant. My T-shirt was now soaked in sweat and I began to dig into my shorts to reach for the hambugs. I approached the first water station with a lot of vigour, I doused my body with water and I thought to myself, what a beautiful day. There was plenty for everyone. I could only compare it to the passage in the bible where Jesus fed five thousand people and there was plenty to throw away.

Mile after mile, the race was magnificent; I had made up my mind not to stop until the race was over. I had trained on a weekly basis, allowing my muscles sufficient time to rest before the race. I could see thousands of runners ahead of me, thousands of spectators cheering runners on, an endless buzz in every corner of the course. Meandering through the city of Newcastle Upon Tyne along with the crowd of runners was absolutely gorgeous.

Now and again I would have a runner talk to me. ‘Are you from Sheffield?’ one gentleman asked, and I replied ‘I lived in Sheffield for three years, I now live in London’ catching my breath as I spoke. ‘I lived in Sheffield too, hope you are having a great time’ he said before disappearing into the crowd of runners ahead.

‘It doesn’t show on the map that this area would be hilly’ said another runner wearing a huge hat as we climbed a hill, and then I replied ‘I don’t remember taking note of contour lines on the map’. He laughed and wished me well as he accelerated into the crowds.

I saw another man pushing a lady in a wheel chair up the hill and I thought it was tremendous. I had now been running for over an hour and nearly half way through. I approached the Age UK cheering point, it was colourful. There were several ladies and kids cheering us on. I continued running at a safe pace.

The Emergency Services aligned the side lines, there were lots of nibbles and drinks along the way, several families had fruits and biscuits to give away to runners, the spirit of the day was super and the sunshine came through after a bit of drizzle. The organizers were everywhere offering assistance and boosting morale.

At some point in the race my muscles tightened up and I slowed down a bit, I had reached this point in training and I prayed that my muscles would relax. I walked for two minutes and then I took some oil from the Emergency Services and rubbed it on my muscles and continued the race. I had nearly run out of hambugs and I was getting really hungry. I snatched at some Jelly babies as we passed another food station which I tossed into my mouth for energy.

As I approached the final mile I had been running for over two hours, there was a cool breeze over me while ascending a small hill and suddenly, at the top of this hill, I could see the beach in South Shields. It was a lovely sight and a wonderful moment. I felt a surge of energy and carried on gently descending down the hill, knowing that it would soon be over.

I ran down the hill visualizing the medal in my hands, a medal for our Lord Jesus Christ, a medal for world peace, a medal for positive social change and a medal for Age UK. I ran with renewed strength, with a huge smile on my face, greeting the cheering crowds. ‘This is the last mile’ I said to myself, smiling. I was looking forward to meeting my honey. My heart rejoiced and with an amazing strength I continued until I crossed the finish line. It was such a wonderful feeling.

Two months later, I was in Nigeria with Savannah where I handed my medal to my mother who inspired me to become a child of God and a Trustee of Age UK Sheffield.

Thanks to the almighty God, for an amazing life and thanks to you, for your outstanding kindness and support.

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