Paul v The Wall


We caught up with Northampton Saints Team Manager and RPA Alumni Paul Shields as he tackles ‘The Wall’, a 69 mile ultra-run across Hadrian’s Wall, to raise funds for a charity very close to his heart, Marie Curie Cancer Care. In his blog he talks about the motivation behind his decision to take on this gruelling challenge…

“So, you play professional rugby for 10 years and people say it is the camaraderie that you miss the most and they would be right. However, I’m one of the lucky ones, working at Saints means I’m still part of a team environment. What else then? For me, the buzz, the challenge and bizarrely that rewarding feeling you get the day after a game when you have exhausted yourself and battered your body. You don’t get that from golf. I like running, arguably not built for it (mind your manners!) and did the marathon a couple of years ago and loved it, but vowed to never, ever do it again and I won’t… But technically the equivalent to 3 in a row isn’t the same. Right?

I am a glutton for a challenge and when Brian Facer (Saints Marketing Director) put The Wall in front of me, my competitive instincts took over. Running 69 miles in 16-20 hours is a hell of an undertaking and on consultation with the necessary parties (asking my wife Gemma’s permission) I decided I am going to do this.

Why on earth would you do it? I know; I like the idea of saying that I have done it. Dorian West tells me that I need to stop and think for a minute but his idea of exercise is eating a Jaffa cake in the Jacuzzi. There is no doubt it is going to be the most demanding thing I have ever done. I will run about 600 miles in training with a couple of 30 mile runs in there. It will take me between 16-20 hours and I will burn around 17,000 calories. It is going to be awful and I am going to need support, guts and inspiration.

I know where to draw my inspiration from, the C word.  Cancer, it has or will touch us all in some shape or form whether it be directly or through someone you know and care about. I have lost 2 uncles to it but more recently it has been in my family’s life through my wife’s mum. My mother-in-law, Rozi, is a hell of a woman. When I see what she has been through, this run is a walk in the park.  She has been through chemo, surgery, had setbacks, got knocked and got straight back up again.

Tough is not a shaved head, tattoos and a big dog. Tough is always fighting and not letting it change you or how you lead your life, no matter what you are faced with. Since her second diagnosis 4 years ago, she has had 7 grandchildren who are her world and each of them adores her immensely. So, when it is tough, the tank is empty and I am not sure how I am going to get through, it will not be eye of the tiger, but rather Rozi.

Now, if I am going to do this, I want to raise awareness but more importantly money. There’s no point lying about it. I asked Rozi to choose a charity and that is where the money will go and she chose Marie Curie Cancer Care. This charity needs no introduction but suffice to say they do incredible work, not only with patients but also in helping families to cope. They are a most worthy charity and you never know, they might help you some day. Every penny I raise will be donated to them. I’m not asking you to sign over your life savings, but if everyone donates £1 then I will be able to raise plenty. Don’t get me wrong, feel free to give more if you wish!

You can donate by going to my just giving page and look out for more events at

I have set up a twitter account if you wish to follow me and see how I am getting on for the duration of the training and the event itself.  You will find me at @PaulVsthewall and feel free to get in touch but please be patient as social media is not my thing.

If you would like any further information visit and thanks for taking the time to read this.

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