A 39-year old mother of three, from Deptford in London, is set to complete the sinew stretching Brathay 10in10 challenge and become the first black women to complete the event in the process.
As the name suggests, the 10in10, our major fundraising event along with the Brathay Windermere Marathon, manifests itself in the form of 10 marathons, in 10 days, around Lake Windermere. The route was recently voted the 2nd best marathon course in the UK. Defined by its undulating nature it is, arguably, the most picturesque marathon course in Europe.
Tinu Ogundari was so inspired by competitors in the 2011 10in10, that she has dedicated the last 12 months to preparing herself for the ultimate marathon challenge. The physical pressures of the 262 mile run can shatter the hopes of those with even superhuman stamina, whilst the Groundhog Day repetition, of the event , can break the strongest of minds.
And when ex Arsenal, Manchester United and England legend, Viv Anderson, learned of the possibility of Tinu becoming the first black women to complete the challenge he immediately saw the parallels with his own career as an elite footballer.
Viv became the first black player to represent England, at full international level, when he was selected to play against Czechoslovakia, at Wembley Stadium, on November 29th, 1978.
Anderson, a cultured overlapping full-back, made his name under the legendary Manager, Brian Clough, at Nottingham Forest, where he won two European Cups (Champions League), 2 League Cups and the UEFA Super Cup. He also won 1 League Cup with Arsenal. In total he won 30 Caps for England and was in the World Cup Squad in 1986 and 1990. He became Alex Ferguson’s first signing as Manchester United Manager in 1987.
Although the first full international in the world took place between England and Scotland in 1872, remarkably, it took a further 106 years before Anderson became the first black player to make it into England’s full international side.
Viv Anderson said: “I’m sure that Tinu, just like I was in 1978, will be so focused on her preparation for the race that anything outside her training bubble will be pushed to the back of her mind. That was certainly the case for me. I didn’t really think too deeply about the profound cultural repercussions of my achievement. I tried to treat it just like any other game even though I received a telegram from the Queen and assorted celebrities, like Elton John.”
And Viv is delighted that Tinu will be creating another landmark in the sporting firmament. “Society needs respected role models of every race and gender and if Tinu completes this incredibly difficult challenge she will become a fantastic role model for the whole community. I’m certainly backing her to complete the challenge and I’ll be keeping a close eye on her progress and will be willing her on. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it down to the final marathon, on Sunday 20th May, to welcome her over the line and into sporting immortality.”
Tinu, who has looked after her three children (Venus, 11, Alex, 7 and Samuel, 2) since graduating from the University of London, Goldsmiths College, in 2010, with a BA (Hons) Degree in Applied Social Science, Community Development and Youth Work said: “I’m a huge football fan and I can’t believe that Viv is taking such an active interest in my marathon challenge. He’s inspired many thousands of people, worldwide, so to have his support means so much to me.”
Tinu has spent the last year building up her stamina, regularly undertaking the 22 mile round trip from Deptford to Orpington. Whilst her children are suitably impressed by her determination and dedication to the sport they don’t find that running long distances is particularly exciting. “They think running is boring,” laughed Tinu, “although they understand why I do it they think I spend too much time pounding the streets around our house, although I have to say they have been very supportive.”
Tinu was born in Stockwell but moved to Nigeria when she was just 5 years of age. She loved running at school and Athletics was her favourite sport. She moved back to London 17 years later, at the age of 22, making her base in Streatham before moving to Deptford 7 years ago.
It was after the birth of her first child that Tinu fell in love with running again. Struggling to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight she invested in a treadmill, a purchase that turned her life around. “I immediately felt that buzz that only running gives, relieving stress and giving me the time to think,” explained Tinu. “I still use the treadmill to run 5-6 mills before getting the children ready for school. I get up at 4.00am and away I go, but I have to run outside during the week to make sure I get the incline training that I need ahead of the 10in10.”
Tinu hopes that her training will prepare her for any scenario. “In October I ran every day so that I became used to training with tired legs, and over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend I ran 3 marathons, in 3 days, to get my head around the repetitive nature of the event.”
Tinu’s keeping her fingers crossed that she won’t pick up any injuries before the 10in10 but is conscious that she is running faster than at any other time in her life. “I recently ran my fastest marathon at 5:50 which I’m really pleased about. When I think back to when I ran my first competitive marathon, in 2005, after the death of a close friend from cancer, I can see that I’ve made steady progress. And my preparation for the 10in10 has really made me appreciate the focus, drive, passion, commitment and dedication needed to succeed at the highest level in any sport.”
Viv Anderson was keen to stress that whilst successful completion of the 10in10 would secure Tinu’s status, as a community role model, the personal benefits to her couldn’t be underestimated. “Regular exercise and training is something we should all do, whatever age. I was playing ‘veterans’ football well into my 50s and whilst it may have inspired others, to stay in shape, it also made me feel good in myself. Either way Tinu is on to a winner.”