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Interview: The Peterborough 5x5 Challenge

Welcome to the Stamford Branch of The Royal British Legion

At 11am on Sunday 10 November 2013 over 300 people stood silently in the beautiful sunshine to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Just two minutes later they were sprinting through Fineshade Woods at Top Lodge, completing the Remembrance 11 race organised by the Peterborough 5x5 Challenge. In total they raised £2,100 for The Royal British Legion.

So what is the Peterborough 5x5 Challenge and why did they want to raise money for an armed forces charity?

Terry Murphy is one of just seven people that organise the Peterborough 5x5 Challenge. “It all started in November 2011. My son is actually in the armed forces,” Terry explains. “He is based out of Wattisham looking after the Apache helicopters and is a Staff Sergeant.”WP 20140208 00320140216175700

Having completed various tours before, Ross had to go to Afghanistan for two weeks, and once he’d finished, he was brought back to the UK again. “He actually came back on a medical flight – but he wasn’t injured. It was just one way of getting him back once he’d finished out there. We then had a chat when he came home and he described what he had seen on that flight,” Terry recalls. “He told me how there had been triple amputees and how people were working non-stop to keep these guys alive.

“It really got me thinking; what other job sends you out to put yourself in harm’s way? There aren’t many people that would do it, but it’s actually their job to do that. And if anything does go wrong, they should get the right help. And so I decided I had to do my bit and raise some money.”

Terry decided he wanted to raise £10,000, and then started to think about how he might do that. “I’m a little bit sporty – I bike, run and swim – but it’s just something to do now that I’m retired. And, of course, a lot of my friends are of the same ilk,” says Terry.

Terry volunteers at the London Marathon and has been a gamesmaker for sport events previously, because he also likes to see what goes on behind the scenes, and many of his friends also help organise races locally. And so he rallied Carol and Jim Fell, George Produck, Phil Lloyd, Simon Lovell and Steve Hope – marking the start of the Peterborough 5x5 Challenge.

With its £10,000 goal, the team set itself the task of organising two sportives in 2012 (where entrants choose between a 100, 70 or 50 mile uncompetitive bike ride) and they decided that the run would be held on 11 November 2012 in Fineshade Woods at Top Lodge. Terry also started a website for the team and linked it to British Cycling so that people could sign up to the sportive through that website too. Jim looks after the team’s finances, and set up a bank account so that the incomings and outgoings can be managed properly. Meanwhile, Carol Fell also organised an Organ Concert in Peterborough.

“The sportives are basically a bike ride on the public highway. We did the first one in Marholm two years ago – on April Fool’s Day! Around 150 people entered, which was great considering no one knew us. Anyone can enter the event, so long as they have a good road bike and a helmet, and you can choose the length you want to do,” explains Terry. “We gave them a number and a map, and off they went!”

The Peterborough 5x5 Challenge also organised a sportive from St George’s Barracks in North Luffenham. Terry explains that there are four key things required for holding an event, which are sometimes hard to come by: a free car park large enough for 500 people (around 400 cars), a hall for refreshments, a secure start area and toilets. The base was a perfect location for the sportive, as cyclists taking part could use their gym to get changed and showered as the route – being a particularly hilly and arduous one – put the cyclists through their paces.

“The numbers crept up again, where this time we attracted around 200 people,” enthuses Terry. But with his keen business sense, Terry could see that in order to reach their goal of £10,000, they would need an extra push. “So I also arranged a Spinathon in Hampton, Peterborough. I managed to persuade Jamie Fenton from Vivacity Gyms in Peterborough to lend us 12 spin bikes, which we set up in Hampton shopping centre together with three fitness instructors to keep us all motivated. 12 of us rode the bikes non-stop for five hours. In just one day, we raised over £1,400.”

Start 2

At the end of year the Peterborough 5x5 Challenge raised nearly £11,000 in total, with most of the funds being raised through the entry fees paid by the runners and cyclists that took part in the events. The team donated the money to Help for Heroes and requested it to go to Chavasse VC House, the recovery centre in Colchester. The money funded the recovery centre for a whole week.

Much of the team’s success is down to each individual’s expertise. Terry himself has experience in management, and between himself, Jim and Carol – who used to run his own company - they were able to review their finances, budget effectively and predict whether they could reach their target. Similarly, Simon and Phil both have experience in managing races locally, including the Eye 10K, 5K series and Peterborough Half Marathon. Steve is the team’s PR contact for all the local clubs and George is the ‘what if?’ person. With regular debriefing sessions the team ensures it improves on each event, making every subsequent one smoother.

But organising your own sporting event is no easy feat. “It was only meant to be for one year,” explains Terry. “We were all very tired by the end of the year and I asked everyone if they wanted to continue, but we decided to call it a day and keep a £1 in the bank account just in case.”

Before a running race, for instance, the team has to apply for a permit to insure people against injury during the race. The route has to be agreed by the Forestry Commission and on the day, the team has to check that the route is safe. Each entrant must be provided with their own number, which is coordinated online when they register, and the team must also ensure there are enough voluntary marshals to direct the runners around the course. First aiders must be on hand should anyone hurt themselves and refreshments are also provided, so the team must look to acquire water bottles and fruit prior to the event.

“We also have to inform the police so that they know what we’re doing,” adds Terry. “Apparently local police are on ‘rave watch’ and because we have a few hundred people running through the woods, we have to let them know so that they don’t think anything untoward is going on!”

A lot of organisation goes into these events, but despite this, just two months later in February 2013, the team decided to do one more sportive in Marholm. “All the same people came back again to help organise it and we ran it in the same way. But this time we had 450 riders enter, and we actually had to cap it. We just couldn’t cope with the numbers,” says Terry.

Now with an appetite for fundraising and learning how it could improve on each event, the team decided to organise a second Remembrance 11 race. This time the Peterborough 5x5 Challenge decided to back The Royal British Legion and 324 runners took part in the race, which was again held at Fineshade Woods at Top Lodge. “I enjoy helping to organise these events – I consider them to be little projects, and I know that the cyclists and runners love the sportive and races,” says Terry. “But taking part in these fundraisers means you’re able to give something back. It was nice to be able to give something locally by donating the money to The Royal British Legion.”

Ridee

On the 10 November 2013, the Peterborough 5x5 Challenge raised £2,100 for The Royal British Legion, which was presented to the Stamford Branch at its social event on the 27 November. Impressed by the amount of money the local supermarkets had raised during the Poppy Appeal in November and now a dab hand at organising these fundraisers, the team have committed to organising another Remembrance 11 race this year, subject to approval by the Forestry Commission, where it will again donate the proceeds to The Royal British Legion.

Rblnight

“After two years, we’re still going and the original seven members of the team are still very committed for this year,” says Terry.

The Peterborough 5x5 Challenge has already pencilled in their major events for all of 2014, and participant levels look to be even bigger. They are organising their third sportive at Marholm, which will be held on the 18 May, and will raise funds for Hospital at Home and Marholm village hall. On the 17 August it will be running another sportive at Marholm and of course the Remembrance 11 run for The Royal British Legion on the 9 November.

Terry intends to organise another Spinathon in Hampton shopping centre, where he will donate all proceeds to The Royal British Legion. Meanwhile, Carol Fell has organised another organ concert, which will be held on 23 May at 7:30pm at the Yaxley British Legion Social Club (210 Broadway, Yaxley, Peterborough PE7 3NR). Resident Organist at the Thursford Collection in Norfolk, Robert Wolfe, will put on a concert of popular music with the raffle in aid of the Royal British Legion. (For tickets please telephone 01733 263392.)

So what does the future hold for the Peterborough 5x5 Challenge?

Terry wants the Peterborough 5x5 Challenge to grow bigger and better, which in turn will generate more funds for charity. “The lads are coming home, so we need to be here to help them. Ross has one more tour and it’s like he said, the Apaches were first in, so they’ll be last out! But after they pull out of Afghanistan, they’ll be somewhere else, because it’s always gone on, hasn’t it?”

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