From 13th-17th December, Brighton Racecourse’s Head Groundsman is set to tackle a gruelling 200 mile trail run in memory his former work colleague Doug Sommerfield. Richard Langley is taking on the Centurion Running Winter Downs 200, which will see him completing a giant loop around the south of England, including the North Downs Way, Vanguard Way, South Downs Way, Wayfarers Walk and St Swithuns Way.
Richard explains how it came about: “In February 2016 my good friend and work colleague, Doug Sommerfield passed away.
“Following his retirement, struggling with loneliness and health issues, and just four months into what should have been a happy retirement, Doug took his own life.
“This had a major impact on my mental health, with so many questions; had I done enough? Had I missed the signs? However, the main recurring question was could I have prevented this? Had I known back then that charities like Racing Welfare were about to offer Doug support things may have turned out differently. I can’t change it now but if I can do my bit to support the charity you never know – it might save someone else’s life.”
Richard has found comfort in throwing himself into running, taking on increasingly extreme challenges – but this 200-mile trail run will be by far his toughest yet. When hearing of Richard’s latest adventure, a colleague suggested he do it in support of Racing Welfare – a cause close to his heart.
He said: “Obviously doing the job that I do I have quite a few friends working in the industry and so I thought I could bring it all together to make something quite big and help to raise money and awareness.
”I don’t know what emotions I’m going to be facing to get through it. I’ll be over the moon if I complete it knowing that I’ve pushed myself and the memory of Doug will be with me all the way going round.”
Racing Welfare has a designated programme of events for retired staff, including regular coffee mornings, racecourse outings and day trips. They are intended to help reduce isolation and loneliness amongst this community, helping them to stay connected to the industry, maintain friendships and forge new ones. Anyone interested in finding out more or signing up can call our support line on 0800 6300 443.
To support Richard in his ultra challenge in memory of Doug, you can donate at https://www.justgiving.com/page/richard-langley-1690913588121