Red Dress Run 2021

I’ve done a bit of fundraising before for the NI Chest Heart and Stroke association. My father had a mild stroke a few years ago, and my husband has a replacement heart valve. So I know very well the excellent work they do. When the coronavirus pandemic took hold in 2020, many charities suffered immensely at the sudden loss of fundraising events. I did a “26 costumes” run during April, where I ran a short local route in 26 different outfits over the space of a week. This was in response to the absence of marathons, 26 miles, as fundraising opportunities.

26 costumes, Dancer-ys, with Tobbo, the fire-breathing dragon

NICHS would usually have an annual Red Dress run, with participants encouraged to dress up in suitable colours. This year (2021), with Covid regulations and restrictions still in place, it would take place virtually. When I first posted on Facebook

“Me? Running? In a red dress?With my reputation?” even my husband admitted he laughed.

So, most important consideration – what to wear! I usually run with Minnie, my cocker spaniel, but as she will be 10 this year she is an old lady in dog years, so I am training up young Toby, 2, to be a running companion. I really wanted a dress up theme that could include them also. And after a bit of pencil chewing, and exploring what I had in my dressing up box, I decided on…..Little Red Riding Hood (or should that be Little Red Running Hood). Minnie being a black hairy monster would make a suitable Big Bad Wolf, while cheeky-chops Toby would bring his own stylings to the role of Woodcutter. Just don’t anyone think of giving him an axe….

Despite my extensive costume wardrobe, I didn’t have the wherewithal for my own outfit, but I soon found a reasonably priced one on Amazon. When choosing a costume for running it has to be light, loose enough to allow movement, stretchy enough to allow for a long sleeved base layer if required, and washable. A red cloak will be a versatile addition, I’m already planning to use it as a superhero get-up, or for parkrun celebrations. The dress, with its checked skirt, lace petticoat, white blouse and black waistcoat isn’t a million miles from a Highland Dance dress, I might wear it to class as a joke.

For the dogs, I had a Harley Davidson bandana that said “Bad to the bone”, and a checked tartan number.

I sussed out a local route that was a 2.5km circuit from the house, meaning i could swap dogs at the halfway mark, and also was sticking to the guidelines of not travelling too far to run.

To add to the authenticity, the day before the run I baked some cookies for grandma, though I wasn’t intending to run with them. they were stem ginger cookies, and filled the house with tantalising smells.

Ginger cookies, fresh from the oven

On the day of the run, the sun shone, there was a warm-up video on Facebook including personal testimonies and a reminder of why we were running. I found the fundraising really hard this time, with no social events or family get-togethers, and only a handful of work colleagues in the office, it was a struggle to get pledges. But I made the £50 target.

I selected the soundtrack of Hamilton as my music: Hamil-run if you like. I set off with Minnie first, she always gets very excited and impatient when she knows we are going running. And then Toby, who still gets a bit distracted by other people, dogs, interesting smells and pretty flowers. It brings joy to the heart to see dancing snowdrops, full of hope for the future.

Snowdrops dancing in the sunshine

And we are all hopeful of a better future. For charities, for those recovering from strokes or heart operations, for runners who can’t wait till we can run together. Keep the faith, we’ll get there. There may even be cookies 🙂

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