The length of Spain: Barefoot!

In 2018 my sister ran the length of Spain: Barefoot!.It may seem like this has no connection to fundraising. But there are lessons to be taken from it: in particular, as highlighted in Fundraising the Essentials for Success,  – a winning team !

Julia started from Santander and arrived in Almunecar. It took her 51 days: – approximately a half marathon each day. A lot of planning goes into such an achievement and everything was thought of: her support team; the resting place each night; dietary needs; physio requirements. Friends had booked sections of the route where they would run with her or, at the least, be at the destination to welcome her. Perfect planning, but as Mike Tyson said about boxing “Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth”.

You may remember that 2018 was the year of the Beast from the East blizzard. Julia set out from Santander on 23rd March. Very quickly you climb into mountains. The Beast still held the countryside in its frozen grip with a carpet of snow covering the landscape: definitely not the best conditions for running barefoot. Not long after that a fragment of stone buried itself in her foot. Running was agony. It was surely time to abandon the plan. But she didn’t and 50 days later arrived triumphant at her destination.

What has all this got to do with fundraising? Well there are times in every fundraising journey when things don’t go right. When it feels more like crossing the desert with nothing on the horizon except endless sand. Your star prospects are coming back with negative answers, others are proving hard to make contact with and the fundraising target begins to seem like a very distant, maybe impossible, goal.

This is where running and fundraising come together. Julia represented England in the marathon so she is used to hard yardage. She used the mental training, the part of an athlete’s equipment you don’t see. In a desperate situation and with the support of her team she focused purely on the next step. This is not easy to do. The situation can seem overwhelming. The distant, and surely unachievable, finish line keeps appearing in your vision. If you focus on that it can overwhelm. So she literally focussed on the next step. Each step took her toward the goal. Each step reaffirmed the intent and the ability to achieve that goal. Intent turned into hope, then confidence and finally into confirmation that the journey was possible.

On the seafront at Almunecar, where I thought I would accompany her to the finishing line, she sprinted triumphantly by at a pace I had no hope of matching. It was the day of her 59th birthday and she had run the length of Spain: Barefoot!

You can catch her blogs at

The goal had been achieved despite problems that threatened to overwhelm her. Fundraising is hard work. It has many rejections, many disappointments. When you think the task you are engaged on is overwhelming I hope this allegory will provide encouragement. It was not just Julia’s determination that saw her through. It was also the support of the team.

Take further encouragement also from the lesson I learnt from a double-glazing salesman about handling rejection, Fundraiser 0; Rejections 6: He told me “ I love it when someone says NO. It means I am one step nearer my next YES”