Sport

Surprises for Beckford in charity run

BY PAUL BURROWES Observer writer

Tuesday, July 17, 2012    

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DESPITE making eight stops in his 44-hour, 145-mile run from Negril to Kingston, in partnership with the Angels of Love Foundation charity organisation, ultra-marathoner Alan Beckford almost cut short his biggest challenge to date.

But because of the Angels of Love Foundation, who is helping to provide adequate medical care for children whose parents cannot afford it, Beckford pressed along.

Particularly difficult for Beckford was "the heat on Sunday morning between Spanish Town and the finish" (at NCB Atrium in New Kingston).

He was, however, not alone on his journey, which began at 4:10 pm Friday at the National Commercial Bank (NCB) branch in Negril, Westmoreland.

Patrick Lee completed the first 100 miles with Beckford, who had a crew comprising Chris Gooden, Dr Rory Dixon, and his wife Angela.

He was also fully supported by his family who made up the pace team of nephew Dominic Walter, son Xavier Beckford, sister Jackie Walter and Mathew Stewart of Angels of Love.

Beckford made his first stop at 8:30 pm Friday, five miles from Bluefields. His second stop was at 2:00 am Saturday in a field just before Black River.

"Sleeping in the field was a great experience with the stars, etc," said Beckford, a founding of Jamdammers Running Club, pioneer in staging long-distance events in Jamaica including the prestigious Reggae Marathon.

His third stop was at the St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) at 8:00 am before labouring his way to the top of Spur Tree Hill at 2:00 pm.

"Spur Tree Hill was the most gruelling part in particular because of the heat. The only reason I didn't stop is because there was no place to stop," added Beckford, a past general manager of the Sports Development Foundation (SDF).

Beckford recalled while passing through St Elizabeth and Westmoreland "the amount of dogs in the yards... never knew that we had that many dogs in Jamaica".

A key member of Jamaica College's medley relay gold medal team at Champs 1981, Beckford made his fifth stop at Juici Beef in Clarendon at 7:30 pm Saturday and the sixth at 1:00 am Sunday just past Mineral Heights.

An International Triathlon Union delegate, Beckford made his penultimate stop at Old Harbour at 5:00 am and his last stop was at De La Vega City football field.

"The Mineral Heights to De La Vega City was rough, as [my] system was really feeling out of sorts," remarked Beckford, an IAAF and FINA certified official and one of the fittest men in Jamaica.

All this he did for the Angels of Love Foundation who has been assisting with life-saving treatment, health care, education and supporting services for vulnerable children.

Angels of Love's Iar Phillip and Claudene Liu were part of the team from start to finish and Beckford had police escorts through St Elizabeth, Clarendon and in St Andrew.

Throughout the marathon Beckford and crew got words of encouragement, support, surprises, shock and disbelief from members of the public as they passed through communities and received knowledge of his "insane" Negril to Kingston three-day run.

Hi-Lyte and Life Span Spring Water provided fluids for the run with Rondell Village in Negril making accommodation available.

Beckford, who turns 50 later this year and has been organising the Hugo Chambers 10K for some 20 years, considers the challenge as part of his Jamaica 50 Independence celebrations and will continue to give his all to children whose parents cannot give them good health care.

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