New dad Zen ready for the London Santa Dash

New dad Zen is taking on the 10k route at London Santa Dash after smashing his first 5k fun run for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity at RBC Race for the Kids. 

He explains why he decided to start supporting Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and what he’s looking forward to about this year’s festive race at Clapham Common on Sunday 3 December.

Inspired to take part

“I was on the train home from work in September and I saw a poster for RBC Race for the Kids, the charity’s 5k fun run. It struck a chord with me, being a new dad to my daughter, Roma. We had a scare when she was first born – doctors thought she might have an irregular bowel and we had to go back to the emergency ward. Thankfully, it turned out not to be the case, but it was something that stuck with me.

“Since then, as I’ve met other parents, I’ve become more aware of the challenges other families are facing. Not a lot of my friends are parents, so I didn’t necessarily know how scary it can be. When I saw that RBC Race for the Kids poster, I thought it was an opportunity to do something.”

A personal challenge

“I was massively into fitness before Roma was born, – never cardio, though. The thought of doing a 5k was not appealing to me by any stretch – and it still isn’t! – but it was a challenge and for a good cause. I’d never come close to doing a flat-out 5k before, but RBC Race for the Kids was a really fun day, and I survived it, so I thought I would push myself to do the 10k at London Santa Dash.

“My goal is to complete the 10k in under an hour. I've managed to get one 10k in before the actual race so I know now that, mentally, I can do it (and that it's going to feel unpleasant!). The key challenge will be stamina and keeping up the momentum, but the crowds cheering keep me motivated – it’s always a good atmosphere. 

“I’ll also have my own cheer squad with Roma and my partner, Jenna. We might even dress Roma up as an elf! It should be a quite a nice day out for the whole family.”

Fundraising for GOSH

“I’ve written some pieces on my blog about taking part and fundraising for RBC Race for the Kids and now London Santa Dash. I’ve shared these on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The content of my blog – about being a new dad and all that entails – means I’m promoting to the right target audience. 

"Facebook is good because that’s where you friends and family are, so use that to spread the word with people you know.

“I’ve also appealed to my mates – they know I have no enthusiasm for running, so I thought that if I’m trying to fundraise, they can appreciate that I’m doing something that doesn’t come easily or naturally to me.

“With RBC Race for the Kids, each time I had a donation, I shared it on my Facebook profile and tagged the donor as a way to encourage others to donate. I also harassed people on WhatsApp!

“Don’t be embarrassed about what you’re doing, or worry that you’re going to annoy anyone. Taking part means something, so people should know about it. It might make people want to participate, whether it’s running or sponsoring you.”

Building a team

“For London Santa Dash, I’ve started my own team called ‘The Fatherhood of Christmas’. There are four of us so far. I thought that if I could raise £500 on my own for RBC Race for the Kids, I could raise even more with a team. 

“For anyone considering doing the 5k or 10k, I’d say don’t put too much pressure on yourself – it really is the taking part that counts. If the distance sounds too far, you shouldn’t feel deterred, because you can just go at your own pace.

“It’s a fun run, so ultimately, it should be fun! If you haven’t done one before, it’s always good to try something new. Try and get a group of friends together as well if you don’t want to do it on your own. There's plenty of room on my team, so if you fancy it, you're more than welcome to join us!"

Join Zen at London Santa Dash

There’s still time to sign up to London Santa Dash and get a team together. 

Find out more

By taking part and fundraising, you’ll be helping GOSH's specialist Play Therapy team to make Christmas at GOSH stress-free for seriously ill children from across the UK.