With the hockey season drawing to a close, Saturday morning saw the Newcastle University Wildcats Ice Hockey Club swap their skates for running shoes, as they took part in Newcastle Parkrun wearing full ice hockey kit to raise money for The People’s Kitchen.
The club had wanted to introduce something new this year, with the hope of creating a tradition for the coming years. It was to be an event in the Wildcat calendar that would benefit not just the club but the local community. The committee racked their brains to think of something that would be sufficiently challenging, yet that all the club could get involved with. And with that, the Full Kit 5K was born.
The responsibility for organising the charity run was placed in the hands of Welfare Officer, Matt Cole, and Secretary, Kate Belcher. Whilst organising the event proved both rewarding and enjoyable, it soon became clear that persuading students not only to donate but also to wake up on time for an 8:30am start on a Saturday morning may possibly end up being a greater challenge than the run itself.
The campaign continued, and the Wildcats utilized every social media outlet they could to try to spread the word. Gradually the donations started to roll in and once the original target of £500 had been exceeded, the target was raised to an ambitious £1000.
As the day of the event crept up on the team, the run was put in jeopardy, as Parkrun released a statement the night before the race warning of the ‘truly vile’ weather that was expected the following day. A panicked Committee was left with a difficult decision - postpone the event or face a real risk of hypothermia?
The decision was made to go ahead with the race; after having already raised £1100, the Wildcats felt they couldn’t let their sponsors down. The addition of the rain and cold would just add to the challenge.
Saturday morning arrived, and with it 25 weary Wildcats turned up at Exhibition Park, and donned their shorts, socks, shins, chests, elbows, gloves, helmets and jerseys in the pouring rain. Already soaked through before the race had even started, they trudged over to the start line, recorded the occasion with a photo, and set off alongside 350 other brave Parkrunners.
The running proved a challenge as the kit restricted movement as well adding extra weight to haul around. “By the end of kilometre one I was really feeling it in my legs,” reported Hannah Lampit, “I found it so much harder than my practice Parkrun the week before.”
Despite the conditions, the kit and small catastrophes such as shoes breaking, all 25 runners successfully completed the race, in times ranging from 24 to 50 minutes. A massive shout out goes to Max Walker who completed the race in full goalie kit, which comprises of significantly bulkier leg and chest pads than the standard player kit. Walker described the previous week’s Parkrun, which he completed in just the leg pads, as ‘restrictive, leg-numbing and painful’. Following this week’s race in his full goalie kit Walker said, “the real run was a lot harder, I hadn’t expected the kit that I didn’t wear the first time to weigh so much, or for my shoes to break, not to mention the weather which was awful.”
Almost equally as impressive was 1st year architecture student, Christian Davies, who made the colossal effort to jump on the first train home following a night out in Durham and come straight to the run. “I’m not sure what to say about the run, I think it almost helped in a way. I was half asleep so wasn’t really concentrating on running,” Davies reflected on the day. Completing the race in just over 29 minutes, perhaps there is something to be said for Davies’ no-sleep, hungover strategy…
The winning Wildcat, completing the 5K in an impressive time of 24:39, was 3rd year Maths student Robbie Jones. For his admirable performance, Jones won the coveted Wildcats Full Kit 5K 2019 Winner’s mug, which is just as glamourous as it sounds.
The event was concluded with a trip to Wetherspoons for a well-earned team breakfast. The warmth, change of clothes and comforting meal were appreciated by all and truly highlight the main reason for the event; homelessness is a well-known problem in Newcastle, and whilst the wet and cold conditions were unpleasant for the run, the team recognised their fortunate position in being able to return to a warm home following the event, a position that not all people around the city are in. Being able to have a positive impact on the lives of those less fortunate in the city was a big reason for the club’s decision to support The People’s Kitchen in particular.
“The People’s Kitchen do some amazing work in Newcastle […] They provide food, friendship and support to those that need it most in Newcastle so we’re really proud to be able to do our bit,” explained club President, Joe Gubbins.
“It was a fantastic event, despite the horrible weather and everyone really threw themselves into it,” summarized Welfare Officer Matt Cole.
With the current total of donations summing over £1400, the Wildcats would like to thank everyone who has donated so far for their contributions, which will be massively appreciated by The People’s Kitchen and the people of Newcastle alike.
The fundraising page remains open for donations at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NewcastleWildcatsncl