THE JERRY WARD TRUST FUND
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Great Manchester Run 2018  - The Big Push 10!    
 
Sunday 20 May Manchester City Centre

The Start

Almost as soon as Big Push 9 was finished, planning started for Big Push 10 and what we knew would be an epic event.  There would be no disappointment.  Winter training was taking place around the globe, with dedicated, seasoned veterans ensuring they were in peak condition by undertaking such arduous things as:  days out at the cricket, days out at the football, days out on the golf course, weeks out skiing, trips to the pub, checking out the recently opened Indian restaurant (twice) whilst not to be outdone, new members for the team, some of whom had clearly not studied the "form" guide, where actually doing some running.  The Big Push Big F1 engineering team quickly got down to studying the new rules and regulations, and then working out ways of either getting around the regulations, or simply cheating.  Scrutineering would be as rigorous as ever, so finding ways of beating the rules would require a fair amount of lateral thinking.  But the bottom line would always be a performance related cost benefit analysis equation. (I've got absolutely no idea what that means, but it sounds good!)  As pretty much everyone's smart phone could have a very simple app to enable real-time telemetry and data logging, past performances could be closely analysed over the winter training period.  We needed a new head of Big Push Big Data Analysis – and a new computer to do it all on.  Sadly, the budget didn't stretch to much, so it was down to Fatty and his rather tired Dell XPS – the results speak for themselves!  As we lacked the finer things in technology, aerodynamics etc it made getting close to the optimum settings a touch more tricky.  However, the lack of computer power was overcome with good old-fashioned basic engineering, a decent set of spanners, some allen keys and a large hammer.  This system was just as well, as only a couple of weeks before Big Push 10, an engineering shakedown trial revealed a serious fault and broken irreplaceable part in the adjustable armrests.  More lateral thinking (another cup of tea) quickly solved the problem, they didn't need to be adjustable so a couple of decent sized bolts to lock them in place and the Superlegerra chair was ready to go.  

The Big Plan Starts Coming Together

The whole team really wanted to make Big Push 10 special in every respect, and whilst some of the initial design work for the limited edition, collector's item T-shirts was conducted by Big Push HQ in-house, the roughed out designs were handed over to the experts, who came out with neater, smarter and better all-round solutions.  The team are incredibly grateful to JET I.C.U.and the University of Lincoln for sponsoring the production of the shirts.  Because we wanted to have lots of different logos on the front and back, the only really workable colour was white, but Blackcarrot/MyClubStuff had some with rather nice, navy blue trim down the sides, and Fatty had chosen bright yellow for his "10" with "Fatty's Big Push" also in navy.  Bearing in mind the run is in Manchester, and there are several of the team who support other Northern football teams, complaints were always likely!  "They are a little Spursy!"  Was a fairly popular theme of the complaints. The irony of the complaints wasn't lost on Fatty, and seeing so many supporters of northern clubs dressed in such colours was a quite priceless experience!  

Fairly late in the day we discovered that our favourite food and watering hole was undergoing major refurbishment.  Because of the very wet winter and early spring, those refurbishments were well behind schedule.  Even worse, the original schedule had the bar reopening first week in May, but the kitchens only reopening two days before Big Push 10.  There was no danger that Fatty would cope with just a few bar snacks after such a long day out, but alternatives looked quite thin on the ground.  I think it's safe to say we got there in the end.  

Big Push Big Plans Start Getting Out Of Control       

In past years there have only ever been a few new additions to the team each year, but word must have got out.  This year it seemed to be quite ridiculous, as Big Push HQ was inundated with requests from people wanting to join the team.  Starting with a few friends of friends, we ended up with a team way bigger than ever before.  The snowball effect was well underway, Fatty's logistics skills were going to be severely tested! 

The Team 

Fatty – it really wouldn't be quite the same without him.           

Rachel – not running this year having only just moved into a new house with Joe. 

Joe – see above.  

Sam – never one to miss out on his father's credit card paying for a meal.  

Cat – a veteran runner despite her youthful years and encouragement for Sam.  

Nic – Rachel and Sam's cousin, more used to sprinting (often to the bar or the next ruck) than running.  

The Glossop Contingent.   

Jonny – present at every Big Push – an absolute legend! 

 Sheila – a veteran at click save Big Push Big Drinking, but running for the first time.  

Alex – Sheila's daughter, runs 10 K in her sleep, third time pusher.  

Sam – Sheila's younger daughter, curious to know what all the talk was about.  

Simon "Shag" – running in a new ball joint, and using it as an excuse at every possible moment.  

Dave – Jonny and Sheila's neighbour, another curious Glossop resident.  

Debs – Dave's wife, always happy to accompany Sheila when a bottle of wine or beer is involved.  

The Lincoln contingent.  

Stu "Shortcut" – now a veteran of the team, hoping to finish the complete course this year!  

Natasha – Stu's wife – seasoned triathlete and pacesetter.  

Tracey – great friend of Natasha, curious to find out what all the Big Push fuss was about.  

Paul – Tracey's partner, first-time runner but a keen motorcyclist so clearly a nice guy!  

Ian – Natasha's boss from the University, and responsible for some of the funding – cheers Ian!  

Affrica – Stuart's daughter, 3rd time at The Push – lead brolly girl.  

Rhianna – Natasha's daughter, Big Push helper.  

Edward – Natasha's son, Big Push helper and in charge of shirt signing.  

Paul – Aspire director of fundraising and bonkers extreme athlete!  

The Flying Guys.  

Pete – known Fatty since being on the year behind him at University, on the same course, and following each other into the RAF.  

Scotty – head of Big Push Big Engineering and a veteran pusher.  

Phil – veteran Big Pusher, and a great organiser, so well organised he had a hotel booked in Manchester so he could take advantage of more beer!  

Simmo – missed a few, but was there at Big Push 1, and serious this year after a couple of embarrassments by his lovely wife.  

Clare – Simmo's wife, unable to run this year due to far too much metalwork holding her leg together, rehab going well.  

Ian – a seasoned pusher, keen to make amends after missing out last year through injury.  

Vanessa – Ian's lovely wife running despite recovering from being thrown off Ian's motorbike!  

Pat – veteran pusher, and able to get across the border from Wales despite enhance security.  

Dave "Why Aye Chef" – team celebrity finalist from Masterchef, not running having dropped a heavy pan on his foot.  

Fatty's Big Push Big Supporters

Roger – Big Push Media Manager (TV presenter in his spare time) now a seasoned Big Pusher.  

Mark – veteran Big Pusher, back after a couple of absentee years there in record-breaking year!  

Nige "Hog" – there since Big Push 1, only missed a couple, and a great wheels man.  

Andy – friend and helper from the village an early volunteer to help out at the Big 10.  

Will – back for the 5th time, bringing youthful enthusiasm, energy and the lovely Hannah, one of the newest young officers in the Army.  

Hannah – see above!  An early volunteer after being roped in last year.  

Emma – Fatty's PA having to run around all day, and then most of the evening! Well done!          

The Big Push Mission

As so many of the team are from a military background, and so many others are in aviation related occupations, it seemed only right and proper to include RAF100 in our fundraising sights – so Fatty made the brave decision to invite the current Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier to join the team.  Unfortunately, he was already committed to another centenary event, but rather kindly sent a handwritten reply even apologising for it being rather late.  Fatty didn't have the guts to tell him the date on the invitation was at the first draft not even the third, and was at least a month past.  

This year the team have decided to split our fundraising between 4 charities, all very close to home.  RAF100 has been set up so that people can combine fundraising for some amazing RAF charities in their centenary year.  Fatty and several of the team served in the RAF.  http://raf100appeal.org/charities/

Aspire is a charity dedicated to helping those with spinal cord injury live as independently as possible, if necessary with the aid of assistive technology.  They provided Fatty with huge support so that he can access his computer, the Internet etc without any assistance from his PA/carer. http://www.aspire.org.uk/  He was even invited to be after-dinner speaker for Aspire at their sports quiz dinner in London last year, despite having been to the one in Manchester a couple of years ago. (They must be mad!)

Spinal injuries Association have been providing help for the whole spinal injury community for many years.  Their patron is Clare Williams whose father Sir Frank is himself spinal injured.  That didn't stop him running a fantastic Formula One team.   https://www.spinal.co.uk/   nothing is impossible – some things are just a bit more difficult than others.

The Backup Trust help those with spinal injury to lead as outgoing and adventurous a life as possible.  Adventure is close to Fatty's heart!  Obviously not as close as a pie and a pint!  But still close. https://www.backuptrust.org.uk/  

Let's get to Manchester   

Watching the weather forecast for about a couple of weeks ahead of the 20th seemed to be even more important this year.  After the record-breaking temperatures of the May Day bank holiday – 27° C in Manchester, first week in May, who would've got a bet on that a month or so earlier?  With the run now taking place in the afternoon, the last thing we really needed was such high temperatures.  It wasn't anywhere near that hot, but it was certainly quite hot enough for water stations (mindful of previous years little escapades) to be vitally important, not to mention the drive-through showers.  Sunday morning seemed really altogether quite leisurely, until we tried to load everything in the Big Push Big Mobile Big Event Hospitality Facility, when Emma and "The Hog" discovered there were bottles of cold beer in three different fridges!  These needed to be transferred to all the cool boxes/bags as well as the extra logistic issue of lashing Fatty and the "Superlegerra" wheelchair in.  We also had a huge box containing all the team shirts, as only a small number had been dished out beforehand.   Fatty wanted to ensure that we could get a couple signed to send back to this year's team sponsors, and three more to send to the principal spinal injury charities we were supporting.  Amazingly, Fatty had thought ahead, and the shirts were supported on cardboard "dummies" making them easier to sign, and we had a selection of different coloured permanent marker pens.  We always had a bit of a cunning plan for the journey into Manchester, when I say "we" I really mean the guy behind the wheels "Hog" as he has a deep-seated aversion to backseat drivers – something Fatty specialises in!  So after a brief diversion up the new link road past junction 19 on the M6, we went straight for the Plan B (which I think was Plan A all along) and blasted into town along the M602 and rather ironically straight past Salford Hope, now Royal Hospital, where the Big Push Plan was first conceived.  The first roadblock was dismissed in a matter of seconds, and from then on we really were on a bit of a roll!  When it comes to writing the full "Bullshit Baffles Brains guide to getting a parking space in Manchester" the "Hog" will certainly be the author, in fact I think he's already sold the movie rights!  We parked in the same spot as last year just as planned, surrounded by empty parking spaces! 

 

  

The pit area was quickly set up, team members signing shirts, and loads of photos taken.  Introductions made a lot easier by everyone having a name of some sort on their shirt, even if it wasn't necessarily the name they wanted or asked for.  We really did look a fairly professional outfit.  The temperature was already taking its toll, fortunately, Fatty hadn't simply loaded beer in the van, there was even water!  The team were in awesome shape as we made our way down to the start line and of course, the VIP enclosure.  This is undoubtedly where things started to unravel!  

Fatty was being refused entry to the elite athlete and VIP area, we didn't have the correct passes.  I suppose as we didn't have any passes, the guy may have had a point, but that didn't stop Fatty expressing his displeasure!  

 

The problem was really quickly solved after Fatty spotted Kerry from the great run team, she just worked her magic! 

 


None of the team would provide the unnecessary "bird" gesture which Fatty had called for.  In hindsight, probably just as well, as a BBC reporter came over for a brief chat, she didn't even recognise our celebrity, Roger, or Masterchef David, or even Fatty himself!  How rude!  She appeared to be trying to do an interview with the wrong team – oops. In no time we had met up with several of the crowd from Great Run, including Nicola, Kerry and Nigel.  Our cunning plan for the team to start just ahead of the fourth big wave was being rearranged by Nigel.  However, Fatty had to do a couple of quick interviews, but then Roger took over as one of his old colleagues from the south coast was in charge of the microphone.  We had never had such a big crowd in the pushing team, many of whom seem to have wanted to be in charge, Fatty hadn't foreseen this minor technical issue.  The noise around the start line was fairly ferocious, which meant that everyone apart from Fatty had to yell to be heard, but in that environment, no one could hear the oversized grey-haired old bloke in the wheelchair.  In the end the pushing team sorted themselves out with 3 or 4 being in self-appointed manager's roles.  Somewhat ahead of the pre-planned timings –  


Fatty's Big Push 10 was raring to go.  

 

Away from the start-line the Superlegerra chair with the free-wheel attached to the front was quickly proving invaluable. Partly because the first part of the course is downhill, Fatty could manage this by himself, so all the team members wanted to help on this bit.  With its mountain bike wheels riding smoothly through some of the enormous potholes, the Superlegerra chair was riding beautifully.  It seemed only a few moments later and were coming up to the first open top bus noise station.  With almost everyone having some form of computer tracking going on, keeping to a fairly steady pace was easy.  The difficult bit was trying to let everyone take their share of the pushing.  The team will definitely need better data analysis via Fatty's Big Push Big Computer over the next winter period – this must mean more shopping!  

The next difficult bit was trying to negotiate the traffic, we had already caught up the backmarkers from the wave ahead, nearly all of who seem to have earphones in making them virtually deaf.  After less than 2 km, we had already succeeded in shoving several people out of the way with either the freewheel or the pushing bar.  Neither of those methods is a good way of making friends.  Soon we were on our way down Chester Road, which would have been a bit wider were it not for the other waves of runners coming the other way.  However, it was wide enough for us to avoid too much more collateral damage as we headed on towards Old Trafford.  Various football "unpleasantries" were exchanged as we went past and headed off down towards Salford Quays – here we encountered quite a surprise.  

The first shower point had moved and appeared to be in the middle of a building site – no matter, we went through anyway.  Someone had turned up the water pressure so we all got a fair soaking before the right turn along Salford Quays itself.  Because the course diverted through the building site, the part of the course close to the water was quite short, and talking of short, "Shortcut" was still with us! (Possibly because his new wife Natasha was covering his six o'clock as a great wing man should – she could also run 10K in her sleep and still be faster than Stu)  The course now became quite narrow with a few sharp turns and the dreaded kerb to negotiate before getting back onto the road proper.  It seemed we had arrived at the 7 km board in no time at all, and the regular runners were right at home on the Chester Road, still potholes, but not quite as big as the back roads.  Because of the high temperatures, extra water stations were very welcome, however, this meant thousands of discarded empty water bottles/nearly empty water bottles/almost full water bottles all over the road! Very exciting when stuck under the wheelchair wheels at high speed! Being launched miles in the air onto just two wheels very nearly dumped Fatty straight out of the chair and down the road. And then we were almost taken by surprise with a second shower!  The pushers weren't sure whether to take me through or not, in the end, we brushed the side of it so half got wet whilst the other stayed bone dry.  The crowds had been great all the way round, but they always get much bigger getting towards the end of the Chester Road and the bottom of Deansgate.  All this time the Hilton tower was in view, but the finish line is masked around the corner and under the railway arches, and despite the countdown boards it still catches some people out.  There were also lots of tired runners around now so negotiating traffic became a little more tricky.  The last thing we wanted to do was impale someone on the end of the pushing bar right by the finish line and the TV cameras and so many people in the crowd.  The publicity would have been most welcome, but the circumstances around getting it perhaps not quite so.  Furthermore, there are so many personal injury lawyers about litigation would have bound to be forthcoming!  The crescendo of noise in the last few hundred metres was perhaps not quite so nerve tingling as last year, but awesome nevertheless.  We blasted through the finish line, with the official time 58.08 And then stopped long enough for a few photos, interviews, and with luck, we may have all got the correct size of goody bags, and then it was back to the bus!  

This year because of the number of people involved Fatty had tried to provide a fair selection of refreshment and carb-loading snacks!  

Beer and pork pie – nothing else comes close!  

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



With the system of cool boxes that Emma and Hog had loaded, as well as the pop-up table we could settle in for a proper street party.  However, we couldn't afford to linger too long, as The Oast House and real food awaited.  

 The little sign says:  

Manchester City Council Bylaws  

No skate boarding, skating, cycling or riding on wheels etc.   

Penalty £500

– I guess fortunately we didn't find any council workers kicking about, as Fatty was definitely riding on wheels – if not the crest of a wave – come to think of it, the crest of a wave might well have helped things in Cancun, Mexico!


They do say that "location, location, location" is all-important, never more so than for Fatty's Big Push.  It was only a couple of hundred metres and a few minutes and we were sat down at some large bench tables and ready to get grazing.  

 

 

 

 

Table snacks and beer arrived promptly, but somehow our phone ahead and get it all ready plan got missed, no matter, the tables were quickly laden with food and drinks.  The burgers and hanging kebabs were as good as ever, with the added benefit of a couple of new items on the menu – this wasn't missed by Fatty!  The lamb Kofta was fantastic drizzled with piri piri sauce, washed down with a few pints of the original Budvar from the Czech Republic.  The only sad part was having to leave and pay the bill!!  Another record! 



The Big Push Big Thank You`s.

There really are an enormous number of people to thank following Sunday 20th, and the amazing day out in Manchester.  (And my apologies to any (and I will have) I have missed out.)

I guess it should really start 10 1/2 years ago on the beach in Cancun Mexico.

The American lady who resuscitated me on the beach, having pulled me drowned and unconscious from the water.

Rafael – my consultant in Cancun who was so considerate to both me and the family when they got there, (we were able to meet up with him in Manchester in June – A wonderful, but very emotional day out, last time he saw me I was on a life-support ventilator, and could only move my lips and my eyelids, communicating via lipreading – we've come a long way since then.).

The team from JET I.C.U. who got me back to Manchester, and who helped fund this year's shirts.

The University of Lincoln for helping to fund this year's shirts.

Tony and Marie, and the team at Blackcarrot/MyClubStuff for producing the shirts, and getting them to Cheshire on time.

All the hospital and rehab staff through 22 months in their care.

And all of you who have been there, for me, and the family over these past years.

Sunday was simply outstanding on every front.

My carer team who got me up and ready for the run in good time,

Nige "The Hog" for BBB and PPPPPPP which ensured we got to our "allocated" parking bay in good time,

Scotty and the team from RKSOT who fettled the "Superlegerra" wheelchair.

All the team at Great Run (even the "gentleman" on security at the enclosure who Fatty got a little tetchy with!)

Matthew and the team at The Oast House – who opened the kitchens after refurbishment 2 days before the Big Push. (Any of you who didn't have a cold one and the lamb Kofta hanging kebab, you missed out, especially as Fatty was paying!)

All those who have supported the Big Push team over the years helping us raise awareness of life after spinal cord injury, as well as many thousands for good causes.

And last, but not least, all of the team who turned out in the sunshine on Sunday, (including several who I had never met before!)

Many thanks for all your support

Jerry a.k.a. Fatty

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/FattysBigPush10