Running the marathon for Max

The Virgin London Marathon was a little different for our #Team21 runners this year as it was a ‘virtual’ event. That still meant pounding the streets for 26.2miles though, just following a route a little closer to home.

Dave Henshaw was one of those amazing runners who donned our green and white jersey and fundraised for the DSA. He says his 11-year-old son Max was his inspiration. We caught up with Dave a few days after to see how he was feeling…

How do you feel after completing the 26.2 miles? 

I feel amazing. I’d trained hard for the Virtual London Marathon, but my legs/hips were still aching overnight, they do say ‘no pain no gain’ though. The overwhelming sense of self achievement when you reach the finish line is so rewarding.

What kept you going when things got tough?

Always in my mind was the thought that I was doing this to help raise vital funds for charity, but my wife and two sons dropped me off at the start point and we’d planned a route back that enabled me to stop and hydrate with them during the run. So I kept on thinking about seeing their smiling faces and hearing them cheer me on as I approached each meeting point with arms wide open ready for a big hug.

Why did you decide to raise money for the DSA?

Our son Max who has Down’s syndrome, is aged 11 now and for as long as I can remember, the DSA have always been supportive to my family. I felt it was only right that I should in some way try and give back as a way of saying thank you, as I know first hand how difficult it can be at times and you need good advice and support.

How had the DSA helped you and your family?

The DSA have helped in many ways. The support and advice we have been given, especially during Max’s early years was invaluable. And that support doesn’t stop, we know that the DSA are always there should we need help.

How proud did you feel to be running in a DSA top?

It felt amazing, I was chuffed to bits when it first arrived and it made the run even more exciting. So many people were cheering me on in the streets as I ran past with words of encouragement, drivers were beeping their horns and I’m convinced a lot of them recognised the logo and the vest and cheered in support of the DSA.

You couldn’t run as planned in London, but where did you run?

It’s really sad that the run couldn’t be held in London, but the organisers came up with the ‘My Race, My Way’ campaign and that got everyone involved excited. Planning the route wasn’t as easy as you’d expect. I had to obviously stay safe and the weather forecast was looking very grim. But I finally decided to start out in Southport, which is a lovely tourist spot in the North West, lots of fresh sea air to help with my breathing for the first 12k, which really helped. My route then took me through Sefton running through Ainsdale, Formby and then out towards Maghull. Then into Merseyside through Melling, Kirkby and Knowsley, which eventually brought me out on to my final stretch of the East Lancashire Road all the way back to St. Helens.

Do you have any funny training/running stories to tell?

The funniest thing for me was at the finish line. Max was stood waiting with family and friends who were all cheering me on, then as I crossed the finish line, Max got upset with me, as though I’d taken away his glory. We had to set up the finish again so he could do a very short run to the end whilst we cheered him on. He wouldn’t even stand to have a photograph with me, it certainly made all of us smile, he’ll always be our winner.

Tell us more about Max…

Max is aged 11 now and he has just started secondary school, which he is loving. Every parent’s nightmare is their child moving up into big school, even more so when your child has a disability. But every day, he wakes up and puts on his brand new uniform, including his tie and blazer, before he even sits for breakfast, as he is so excited to leave for school. He is in mainstream, but he is in a class of 11 pupils who all have additional needs. His new teachers are fantastic and they are loving Max’s charm and personality.

I’d like to say a big Thank You to anyone that is able to donate, because fundraising together can help keep the wonderful service that the Down’s Syndrome Association provide.

You can sponsor Dave here. 

We couldn’t do the work we do without people like Dave – thank you!

Find out about how you can get involved with fundraising for the DSA here.