Belle de Jour will trade in her trade-mark high heels for athletic shoes next month to participate in a famous U.K. half-marathon race in support of a great charity.
Belle de Jour had been the nom de plume of the famous British erotic author. Last year, Belle revealed she is Dr. Brooke Magnanti, of Bristol, England, a noted scientist. Brooke works at the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health, and is is currently part of a team researching the potential effects on babies of their mothers' exposure to toxic chemicals.
But, from 2003 to late 2004, Brooke worked as a high-class call girl for a London escort service.
On April 25, Brooke will run in the renowned Sheffield Half Marathon, in Sheffield, England. She announced her participation today on her award-winning blog. (Note: The above photograph was taken of Brooke while she was training recently at the Newcastle Racecourse.)
She is seeking sponsors for her participation in the run, and all of the money she raises will go directly to the non-profit Sheffield Working Women’s Opportunities Project. The charity is one of 10 featured in this year’s Half Marathon race.
After raising £95,000 for the race’s 10 chosen charities in 2009, organizers are hoping to break the £100,000 mark this year. Last year’s amount brings the impressive total raised in the race’s 29-year history to more than £600,000.
Since she disclosed her identity, Brooke has been able to bring her celebrity in support of worthy causes. She’s participated in the half-marathon before to support other non-profit charities, but no one knew that she was also the illustrious Belle de Jour.
The half-marathon race limit of 5,500 runners has ALREADY been reached, and entries are now closed. “The pace that entries are coming in this year is amazing. It seems that this year’s race is on course to be the most successful to date and we are looking forward to seeing a record amount of money raised for 10 fantastic local causes,” said Ian Thomas, entries coordinator for the Sheffield Half Marathon.
There are also Senior Men and Senior Women half-marathon categories, with three runners scheduled to participate this year who are 70 years old.
The race's starting and finish line area is the city's famous Don Valley Stadium, the home of both the Sheffield Eagles Rugby League Football Club and the Rotherham United Football Club. From there, runners will head out on an out-and-back course that runs in a roughly southwest direction on the outward route, and a roughly northeast direction on the return route.
Half-marathon runners will encounter long straightaway stretches along Brightside Lane and Princess Street in the race's early going, followed by numerous twists and turns through the neighborhoods as the course winds its way toward and through Sheffield's city center.
The hilliest stretches of the race – which unfolds entirely over paved surfaces throughout – occur in the middle section of the race, between Mile Markers 4 and 9. The course reaches its peak elevation around the Mile Marker 8 (at Fitzwilliam Street) at a height of about 300 feet above sea level; the race's low point, which occurs in the first and last three miles or so of the race, is just under 150 feet above sea level.
Runners in the half-marathon will have a three-hour limit in which to complete the race's 13.1 miles, after which time a race bus will come along to pick up any stragglers or those having trouble finishing in the time allotted.
For runners who don't feel up to running the half, the race also offers a 3K "Great Fun Run," which is open to all ages, including wheelchair competitors and "fancy dress," which means it welcomes runners in costume.
Located just north of the geographic center of England, about 62 kilometers east of Manchester and nearly 270 kilometers north of London, the city of Sheffield typically experiences temperate weather conditions, with ample rainfall throughout the year – December is the city's wettest month of the year on average, while July is its driest. In April, Sheffield's average monthly temperatures range between 12°C and 4°C.
Brooke has linked a JustGiving website to raise sponsorships for the race and the charity she is supporting. The following is her statement in full. Anyone in the U.S., the U.K., or any other country interested in sponsoring Brooke should go directly to her JustGiving website to make a tax deductible donation on the secure website:
“Please sponsor me in the Sheffield Half Marathon
2010 Sheffield Half Marathon
Thanks for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page.
I'm running the Sheffield Half this year, because I clearly didn't learn my lesson last time. Or any of the runs before that...even though to date I have been beaten at races by Scooby Doo, Buzz Lightyear, a giant kidney, and pipped to the post by a man in a banana suit.
Nevertheless, please dig deep in your black, black little hearts...not to mention wallets...and sponsor me this year.
I'm running to raise money for SWWOP, the Sheffield Working Women’s Opportunities Project.
SWWOP provides evening street based outreach sessions addressing not only the sexual health needs of women working as street sex workers, but covering a wide range of health and social welfare issues. They drive to the locations where women work, in ‘the Johnny van’ (as the women call it). This has been adapted to enable women to participate in-group discussions or have one to one contact with workers who provide condoms, tea/coffee, biscuits, TLC etc. Advocacy and support is offered as and when needed by the service users.
SWWOP strive to provide a service to all women working as street sex workers in Sheffield, without discrimination. They are committed to supporting and empowering this vulnerable group. This does not include the promotion, control or reduction of prostitution as a goal; their role is emphasising the positives of women’s characters, i.e. the strength and resourcefulness they possess that enable them to do their jobs. This approach also includes highlighting the positives in their lives generally.
Donating through this site is simple, fast and totally secure. Also, SWWOP will receive your money faster if you use this site and, if you are a UK taxpayer, an extra 28% in tax will be added to your gift at no cost to you.
So please sponsor me...or else I will run after you! Very slowly!
Information from SWWOP appears below, or visit their website directly:
“Sheffield Working Women’s Opportunities Project Ltd (SWWOP Ltd) is a small Voluntary Sector Project, Registered Charity and Company limited by Guarantee.
We have been in existence since 1992 addressing the complex needs of women working as street sex workers in Sheffield. SWWOP have close working partnerships with Genitourinary Medicine Clinic, Turning Point Community Drugs Team, Jessops Specialist Midwives and Action Housing as well as strong links with many other voluntary and statutory agencies in Sheffield.
We strive to provide a service to all women working as street sex workers in Sheffield, without discrimination and are committed to supporting and empowering this vulnerable group. This does not include the promotion, control or reduction of prostitution as a goal; we see our role as emphasising the positives of women’s characters, i.e. the strength and resourcefulness they possess that enable them to do their jobs. This approach also includes highlighting the positives in their lives generally.
SWWOP provides evening street based outreach sessions addressing not only the sexual health needs of women working as street sex workers, but covering a wide range of health and social welfare issues. This is achieved by driving to the locations where women work, in our most valuable asset, ‘the Johnny van’ (as the women call it). This has been adapted to enable women to participate in-group discussions or whenever possible to have one to one contact with workers who provide amongst other things condoms, tea/coffee, biscuits, TLC etc. Advocacy and support is offered as and when needed by the service users.
Condoms are one of our other most important resources, not only to be able to provide them free to the women for their protection, but also as something practical to offer new contacts, and as a way of introducing ourselves and our service.
Outreach work has given insights into factors that make it difficult for women to attend mainstream services, and the aim of our partnerships is to make these services more accessible to the women by booking appointments on request, and by providing a familiar personal link.”
Visit the Sheffield Half Marathon website to learn about the other nine charities featured in this year’s race.
The first marathon race in Sheffield, the Sheffield Independent Marathon, was held in 1929 and started in Barkers Pool, finishing at the Niagra Sports Ground. It was held for two more years with some course changes then was discontinued until the end of World War II.
The Doncaster to Sheffield Marathon was first held in 1946, running between Chequer Road, Doncaster, visiting Rotherham and finishing at Sheffield Station. The course was slightly altered in 1960, and was last staged in 1961. Following the 1981 London Marathon, a marathon boom occurred in Great Britain.
Sheffield introduced the Sheffield Marathon and Half Marathon in 1982, starting in Hillsborough near the Sheffield Wednesday football ground and finishing in Hillsborough Park. The Half Marathon finished in Tinsley Park for the first two years, then changed to a Hillsborough Park finish. The venue for the race changed to Don Valley Stadium in 1991 when it was run in conjunction with the World Student Games Marathon. (The Half Marathon was not held that year.)
It has been run from Don Valley Stadium to the present day, except in 1993 when Sheffield United FC hosted the race at their Bramhall lane ground.
The course has incurred many alterations over recent years, caused in part by the introduction of the “Supertram system,” and partly due to competition for road space resulting from greatly increased traffic when Sunday trading was legalized. In 2001, the route went to Rotherham, visiting Orgreave and using less busy roads. It was a two-lap course for full marathon runners but was not a popular route.
The course was altered in 2003 to its present route through the city center, with the full marathon continuing to Orgreave for its second half. However full marathon numbers continued to fall and difficulties with maintaining a six-hour road closure increased so that 2003 became the last year when a full marathon was held in Sheffield. A lull in road race popularity in the early 1990’s resulted in Half Marathon entries dropping as low as 1545 in 1996.
Since then, participation has risen steadily, totaling 5,500 in 2009 and matching that healthy total again this year. The city center route has produced large crowds of spectators who give tremendous support to the runners, and attractions including live bands playing along the route add to the event. The finish before the crowds in the Don Valley Stadium is cited by many runners as a unique experience.
(Note: The above graphic depicts this year's half-marathon course.)
The SIG Insulations Sheffield Half Marathon has become one of the biggest participation events in Sheffield’s sporting calendar, with city center landmarks and roads lined with enthusiastic spectators to support elite, club and local runners. To attract quality runners from throughout Yorkshire, the event is host to the Yorkshire Half Marathon Championships and the South Yorkshire Half Marathon Championships.
The Sheffield's Great Fun Run steps off after the half-marathon, and is still open to all. Wheelchair entries and children in pushchairs are all accepted. A certificate is presented to all who participate.
Last year’s winning woman runner in the 17-34 year old category was Rebecca Robinson, crossing the finish line in 01:14:52. She will be running again this year, too.
I continue to applaud Brooke’s charity endeavors since she’s revealed her identity. Not only is she a uniquely talented and gifted writer, she is a woman with strong social convictions and true compassion. Cheers, m’dear!
— The Curator