Thursday 20 September 2012

Good Gym: Run the Race With a Purpose

Good Gym runners do good not only to their bodies but also to other people. 

It was few minutes past meeting time when I arrived to Archway Gallery in East London to join the runners from Good Gym. They get together every week in different locations to run and do something for the community – move the furniture at school, help elderly people or organise a community garden. Simple yet meaningful .  
I passed the door and a thick curtain and saw over two dozen people warming up before the run. I quietly joined them. People were still coming in - some of them directly from work. After a quick change of uniform they were joining the rest of the group. Mark, the leader of the group, announced the most important things - the route (7 km) and the purpose of that run (shuffling a big heap of soil in a community garden) I was soaking in the atmosphere of doing something good with other people. Over thirty of us who barely knew each other gathered together to help others. And one thing was going through our mind - run to help others and increase the level of good done in the local community. As we were getting ready to set off, I breathed in the atmosphere of partnership and working for common good. That's the fuel to run on! 

The sky was already turning darker when we finally set off but it didn't discourage anyone. Once we reached Victoria Park and were running along the canal we were already spread across few hundred metres. While trying to catch breath I spoke about Good Gym to its coordinator Mark.
While  we were talking, we reached the end of the canal path and we were running again on the streets of East London. At 8pm there was barely anyone out. 

When we reached the community garden, it was already dark but it didn't stop us nor took any of our enthusiasm. We were warmly welcomed by Tanjina, Kerry and two little children. One of them, a girl around three years old, was very excited about the work we were about to do and while we were listening to the instructions she started pushing one of wheelbarrows! A three year old pushed a big and heavy wheelbarrow! 
There was a huge heap of soil waiting to be shuffled to wheelbarrows and transported to the garden boxes. We organised ourselves quickly and started to work cheerfully. Some runners got the wheelbarrows and shuffles while others were trying to figure out forking the soil and were also looking for bags and buckets to carry as much soil as possible. Soon everyone got into production line mood. Commands were heard from all over “wheelbarrow to the end”, “wheelbarrow to the middle stand and next one next to the gate”. We were moving like ants in their anthill. After few minutes the heap looked much smaller. 

Working in a of positive trance, we heard Mark shouting that 15 minutes had passed and we left with twenty five. Most of us sped up. Countdown had continued - 10, 5 minutes and finally one last one. We felt like at an exam - when you left with one last minute and try to write as much as you know. Finally, the time ended. Last buckets and wheelbarrows were filled and shuffles put aside. Everyone breathed with a relief but most of all with joy, because again they did something good. They made a difference.
We left with one last group picture to be taken, words of thank you from Tanjina and Kerry and it was time to go back. Few people decided they would come back after few days to finish the work. We've been given water, juice and biscuits. It helped to regenerate before the run back. 

The next morning I woke up with hands sore with pain from shuffling kilograms of soil. It reminded me how well we did as a team. Mark sent an email with blog post and statistics of the challenge. Total time: 120 min, total distance: 7.2km, average speed: 8.6 km/hr, total calories burnt: 1017. Level of positive energy increased by 100 per cent. 

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