The 23rd of March would have been my friend Clare’s 45th birthday. She died last September of Ovarian Cancer. Let me tell you about my friendship with Clare.
We met online! We had both joined a 5k online running course called Up&Running. It was June 2011 and the course ran for eight weeks and got non runners up to 5k. A bit like couch to 5k but with way more skipping 🙂 After the eight weeks we would all go on our merry way as runners….but no…. turned out this wonderful group of women all loved chatting to each other on our forum, supporting each other’s running attempts and after a while just supporting each other with life in general. Fortunately Shauna and Julia, the brains behind Up&Running let our forum continue with an Alumni group and now after each 5k course (or 10k or HM) new runners have somewhere to hang out.
Turns out we all like to travel, as well as run, so before long we were meeting each other in real life. Edinburgh for tea and cakes, Glasgow for a parkrun, a few trips to Bologna for a weekend together, and a bit of running. So, I got to meet Clare many times despite her living in Glasgow and me in Somerset.
I just loved Clare…her beautiful soft Glaswegian accent, her gentle humour, her kindness (always remembering birthdays and sending get well cards) and there was sadness, as we got to know Clare better we found out she had lost her husband just before joining our forum. The forum was a place she could come and just be Clare. We had much in common, silly things like having the same Clarks sandals…we used to send each other a picture of our sandalled feet on there first outing of the year (usually about July in Scotland). Our love of Gin and Tonic and mini breaks.
Ahhh the mini breaks! There were many, often around my events. She would turn up with her pink pompoms to cheer me on…..Barcelona marathon, Clare was there…Wimbleball 70.3 in the freezing cold, Clare was there….Zurich Ironman, Clare was there. And sometimes we went away just for the fun of it. A fabulous weekend in London seeing the sights and drinking gin, a weekend in Inverness… oh hang on that was another event (a 10K) but still drinking gin 🙂
I saw my online buddy more than I see some members of my family. Then last year shortly after a another mini break (for me) in Glasgow, we found out that Clare had Ovarian Cancer – it had already progressed to stage 4 by the time she was diagnosed. I saw her one more time. My forum friends were meeting in Edinburgh for the running festival and we all went over to Glasgow to see her. Our last big meet up. We knew she was very ill but she was smiley and so happy to see us. We spent a lovely afternoon in her local restaurant before taking a short walk in a park.
I think we all thought she had more time than she did… so it was a big shock when I got the news in early September that she has passed away. I was on my last day of the Land’s End to John O’Groats bike ride and cried for the last 40 miles.
So back to yesterday, her birthday. We all ran 5k for Clare and for the Target Ovarian Cancer charity. My forum friends around the world, put on their Clare 5K bibs, in Australia, Dubai, The Netherlands, USA, Scotland, in New Zealand and in Regent’s Park (that was me) and we all remembered our special friend Clare.
Clare I miss you.