Only Mad “Norms” and Englishmen go Running in the Midday Sun. Call me “Mad Norm” if you like, I don’t mind, after all my nickname “Norm” is short for AB-NORMAL. So under the Summer Sun on 10th July 2021 I am running 100 kilometers in the Race to Stones to raise a target of £10,000 for the Atlas foundation, a charity founded and led by the Rugby World Cup Champion Jason Leonard OBE. The Atlas foundation exists to help deprived children work towards a better future through rugby communities and initiatives. 

The truth is I was asked to cycle 100 miles to raise the money, but I was faced a dilemma. I wanted to raise money BUT.. buying a bike is expensive, wearing lycra is unsuitable, and those ridiculous shoes are dangerous on a bike, useless off one. I just couldn’t do it, for starters the money I saved on a bike could go towards the Atlas Foundation. My only option was to do something personally so challenging that I could justify asking people to sponsor me £10,000. So I hit upon the idea of running 100 kilometers in a day. 

The Atlas Foundation is a launchpad for good and provides a platform that funds international projects that have a tangible impact on the daily lives of deprived young people. Through feeding and education programmes and a large number of rugby initiatives, The Atlas Foundation provides safety, education, food, sport, guidance and community to thousands of children across five continents.

I have a personal connection with the foundation having been out to Africa and India to visit and help the foundation with it’s work. While there I have witnessed first hand the delight the children get from the projects that Jason and the foundation have sponsored. I have played rugby in Zimbabwe with boys and girls who were taught rugby and other sports. Activities that are not normally on a curriculum because of lack of equipment and trained teachers. This is where the Foundation helps providing the teachers with training and equipment to allow the children the opportunity to play team sports which are proven to enhance grade attainment and mental well being.

In India I saw how the foundation built a rugby club, changing rooms and gym for the community and the whole upstairs was classrooms for the children to do homework and get extra tuition from tutors paid for by the charity. The most extraordinary thing is that this tiny community now provides over a third of the girls that play in the India Women's Rugby team. It’s simply astonishing. 

I have had to cancel a trip to visit the charity Kenya because of Covid 19. The journey was  to help launch a new DigiBus, which despite all the Covid distractions is now up and running. A bus full of laptops and workstations that can drive to the heart of the slum communities and bring teachers and possibilities to the children who have had a double dose of poor fortune thrown their way this year.