Julia Signs Up For Birmingham 10K In Memory Of Husband

Widow Julia Bryson is joining a team of 24 colleagues at the BBC to run the Great Birmingham 10K in tribute to her husband Roger who died last July.

The group are calling themselves The Substandards – as most of them work as sub-editors – are raising money for the Wirral St John’s Hospice where Roger was cared for before losing his battle against bowel cancer.

Both Julia and Roger worked at BBC News Online and she decided to take up the Birmingham challenge after one of their work friends suggested it could be a good way to honour Roger who enjoyed running events.

Julia has blogged about her life with children Sam, six, Florence, two, since Roger’s diagnosis here – she was seven months pregnant with Florence when he became ill in May 2013.

The 38 year-old said: “Roger got me into running years ago and we did a few 10Ks, so I decided to join them.

“We’ve now got a team of 24, mostly from Birmingham with some from Liverpool, and one from Manchester.

“Some people who are running for us have not done much before – one of Roger’s friends has never ran before.

“It’s quite touching to see people do it that aren’t regular runners.

“If you’re not used to running it’s quite daunting. When I first started, everyone said I could do it without training and I knew I couldn’t! I’m sure I could now.”

Roger, who died aged 48, was first diagnosed with a perforated bowel. Medics then discovered a blockage.

It was thought he was recovering well after surgery.

But he became increasingly unwell early last year and was diagnosed with cancer which had spread to his lungs.

Julia’s blog recounts the heartbreaking moment that she had to explain to Sam and Florence that their father was going to die.

She also talks about the grieving process.

“Some of the biggest achievements of my life have been things I thought I couldn’t do – but I think that self-doubt makes the victory all the sweeter,” she said.

“Of course there have been times when I’ve had to do the things I thought I couldn’t do, because I didn’t want to do them.

“There are lots of examples of that in the past few years of my life.

“Watching my husband become so poorly and frail was definitely up there with things I didn’t want to do, and knowing what came after was even worse."

“But they say that with great sadness comes personal growth, and to get there I reckon I need a few things to focus on. One of those things has the added benefit of relieving stress, giving me back some alone time and maybe helping me tone up a bit in the process.

“It’s free, relatively quick, and it’s billed as nature’s most effective anti-depressant.”

Julia, who ran the Great Manchester Run with Roger in 2007 and 2008, said her Great Birmingham 10K challenge is helping her to stay focused.

“It’s got me out running more, I’m out twice a week while I get people to look after the kids,” she said.

“It’s helped me. I feel a lot better for it. Exercise is good for you, good for your mind.

“It’s a way to get out and have a bit of time on my own, a bit of thinking time, burn off a bit of energy and try to relax, have a bit of time to myself."

“Roger would have been really proud of this. He bought me a new running kit for Christmas last year, because his health was getting better, and we thought I’d have more chance of going out running, but I didn’t because he went back into hospital.

“It was nice to get that stuff out that he bought me. He always used to say ‘go on’ to me and if I ever couldn’t be bothered he used to say I’d feel better for it afterwards.

“I know he would have supported it and he would have been proud to know how many people were going and how much money we’ve raised.”

To donate to The Substandards, click here.

To enter the Great Birmingham 10K, click here.