Twelve members of Team Durham Cathedral are hard at work training for the third annual Durham City Run on 18 July. The team of staff from the Cathedral and Durham’s Barclays Branch and local supporters are running in support of Foundation 2020. All the funds raised will go towards the maintenance and upkeep of the Cathedral; it is especially appropriate then that the race should start and end outside Durham’s most iconic landmark!
Race competitors will (hopefully) be treated to a view of the Cathedral basking in the evening sun as they cross the finish line on Palace Green. But as the team knows only too well, this view does not come easily. The 10k route that the team will be undertaking ends with a gruelling climb from the river and up Owengate to Palace Green in the final kilometre. The team have a couple of strategies for fighting this last leg of the course; hill training been an important part of their build-up and the team have not shied away from the steeper climbs Durham has to offer. To provide motivation, team member Vanessa Ward has (jokingly) suggested that Cathedral stewards should be posted at the top of the hill with gin-and-tonics at the ready!
Vanessa is an enthusiastic member of Team Durham Cathedral, joining in 2016 and completing the Durham City Run in that same year. This year her preparation has been more strenuous and she has completed both the Northumbrian Coastal Challenge (26 miles in under 10 hours) and the Blaydon Race in Newcastle. Yet central to Vanessa and the team’s build-up is the group training on Tuesday nights.
This Tuesday night ritual started in April 2016 with a Cathedral staff ‘Couch to 5k’ challenge and has grown from there. Team founder Rebecca Dodd remains a cornerstone of the team and is viewed by her fellow runners as their encourager-in-chief. Vanessa remarks, “She is so incredibly cheerful, even annoyingly so. You can be running up a hill and she’s still talking to you and telling you what a lovely hill this is!” Her enthusiasm is infectious and embodies the ethos of the team. Though the team comprises a mix of ages and abilities, their attitude is that no one should be left behind. “We run as a team and always loop back to the slowest runner. It’s not just about individual achievement but what we can achieve as a group.”
Running has been a great way for Cathedral staff to bond. Vanessa says: “The club has been such a nice way to get to know colleagues outside of a work situation. We have a great laugh together.” The team are also happy for tourists to have a laugh with them as they do their warm-up in The College. The variety of training routes has meant that the team has got to see new parts of Durham; trekking along riversides, down cobbled streets and through woodlands. It’s this mixture of friendship, good humour and exploration that has made the running group such a great group to be part of.
The Cathedral staff are joined by eight members of Durham’s local Barclays Bank branch. Amongst them is Andrew Lawrence, who brings with him a rather niche record. Andrew has an entry in the Guinness Book of Records as the fastest marathon time by someone dressed as a fruit. He completed the London Marathon in 2016 in 2 hours, 47 minutes and 41 seconds dressed as a banana. Andrew and Barclay’s staff are really excited to be part of Team Durham Cathedral and racing for the city’s most iconic building.
If you would like to help Team Durham Cathedral meet their funding target of £2000 then you can support them at www.justgiving.com/durhamcathedral. Each donation will be doubled by Barclays and then doubled again by Heritage Lottery Fund. This means that every £1 given becomes £4 to Foundation 2020, the Cathedral’s fund to provide for regular repair and maintenance of Cathedral buildings.