Lynne Houlston – her story

In 2020 it would be my 50th birthday and in order to celebrate the occasion I decided to raise money for charity. I wanted to do something I had never done before so in January I signed up for the Pembrokeshire Longcourse 10km. I had hardly ‘run’ anywhere since leaving school so this would be a real challenge.

The Charity would be the HOPE MS Therapy Centre in Neyland. My dad had suffered from Multiple Sclerosis and we lost him in 2003 – the year I moved to Pembrokeshire. He was 56 years old.

I started my training in January heading out on to my local lanes at 06.00. I trained through Storms Brendan, Ciara, Dennis and Jorge – dodging fallen branches and huge puddles. Due to issues with the discs in my lower back some mornings I struggled to put my socks on. On other mornings my whole body resented the early workout.

Then suddenly something unprecedented happened; the country was sent in to Lockdown and all sporting events were cancelled. What to do now? I had already raised £300 and had been training for 3 months!

I decided I would still complete a 10km but it would be a local one and I would run it on my actual birthday! So I continued to train; trying to find a circular route which was 10km/6.2 miles long from my front door. The lanes were quiet now and the verges were full of the colour and scent of wild flowers. It was almost a pleasure to run!!

I live near Castlemartin Camp and my route would be passed the entrance to the Camp and along the main road to Castlemartin Village. The soldiers had stayed away for over 6 weeks and the Camp was quiet. Then in mid-May a week before my ‘run’ the soldiers returned and I suddenly found the main road closed for live firing to take place across it. As I work on the Camp I asked if the road would be closed on 28th May – my birthday; yes it would. However, I was told if I ran early in the morning they would allow me to climb over the gates and run along the road before firing started. I wasn’t fast enough to dodge bullets and it was too late to find a new route so I decided I had to change my start time from 10.00 to 07.00am.

The day arrived – sunny and warm! At 06.45 I headed outside to find friends and neighbours ready to wave me off. My husband had drawn a starting line on the road with chalk. Seven o’clock arrived and I was off to a round of applause. For the first 100m my 75 year old neighbour ran alongside me and my 9 year old daughter joined us on her bike. I had a support crew of two neighbours on their electric bikes. They had cycled the route the night before hanging bed sheets on gates with good luck messages on them and writing notes on the road in chalk.  As I dropped down on to the main road towards the Camp six tank transporters drove passed me heading to Pembroke – they looked massive so close up and caused quite a draft but all the drivers gave me a cheery wave! I then arrived at the first locked military gate and climbed over. Suddenly one of the tanks started its engine – I flew along the main road to the second gate. I was very happy to be out of danger!

I arrived home an hour later to a black and white finishing tape and a chequered flag being waved by my daughter! My husband, friends and neighbours were there to cheer and applaud! What a way to start my 50th birthday! It was incredible!

A huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who supported me! Together we raised a massive £1266.17 for HOPE.