Run 1 of 12

by Ben Burch

Run 1 is now done. 48 hours ago, I stopped, leaned over and rested my hands on my knees - relief.

12 hours is a long time to do anything - but Saturday had actually flown by. So many elements had gone to plan, and even more had fallen into place on the day. The hope that this small occasion, despite the social restrictions, would help give our Allegr philosophy a chance to shine.

Friday night - I had one last check of the weather forecast. Five hours of heavy rain that would then turn to sleet - my worst nightmare. I can’t handle the cold well, I lose function in my hands far sooner than I should and I really struggle to stay warm. I was worried.

I woke at 0515, the rain was hammering down, just going to have to deal with it now. Pablo was outside just before 0700, sheltering in the gazebo I had put up. Delilah came down to take a photo of us leaving, it was dark and raining hard, off we went along the High Street. each lap was just over 6km, pretty flat.. we would soon find out that Moor Lane was quite flooded - gone was the idea of keeping dry feet.

The laps ticked off, and abiding by the ‘+1’ Covid restrictions, Pablo turned to carry on in the opposite direction - as Simon stepped in. It was happening….the tiniest glimmer of momentum was forming. As we ran, the rain started to subside, and Simon gave me the welcome news that the forecast was now updated and vastly improved.

I wasn’t looking at the time, 12 hours was a long way away.. just one lap at time for now. It’s all about breaking down a challenge into manageable chunks.  

With Delilah at the start, lovely weather.

JJ and Neil were out there too, going in the opposite direction - a simple wave as we passed by, not much needs to be said, there’s just a simple acknowledgment. Simon switched with Olly, he arrived in a bright orange wig. Spot on. Two huge wigs jogged out of the village, the rain had cleared now, the roads were still wet but it was a relief nonetheless.

The backdrop of Covid means that everyone has to keep their distance, we can’t form groups, people are running in opposite directions - but we are together. It’s been pissing it down, there’s every reason why not, and yet.. we are all out there. It just took a single reason, a shared purpose, a combined experience - even at a prescribed distance - to be the trigger, the stimulus for people to cross the ‘I can, and I will’ threshold and take that first step.

Sara runs past us. She’s helping fundraise for Olveston School - one of our Local Community Partners. She tells us to look for the sign in her house window on the next lap - we see a huge poster on our next loop to spur us on. BEN12…GO!

Moor Lane, again... 

Bruce arrives with his two boys, they are off to run a lap.. 6km, done.. and then it starts they go for their second - 12km each, further than they’ve ever run. We’re approaching lunchtime and news comes that Pablo just kept going. 46km was his final tally - brilliant - but, fuelled by this shared momentum, not unbelievable. JJ ran the furthest he’d been for more than 10 years.

Will, Ric and Peter covered the last few hours. Ric sowed the seed of running his furthest on Feb 20th, Peter the same. Why? The simple reason - because they can, all these artificial barriers and reasons “why not” had been removed, there was a time, a place and an opportunity.

Daniel lives opposite us; I’d never met him before, but it turns out I’d seen him loads. Daniel does the paper round: “I always see Ben out running, I’ve decided to donate everything that I’ve earned” - Daniel ran a lap, I didn’t know about this generosity until later. People like Daniel have such a positive impact - they deserve to be championed. A simple yet meaningful act of compassion - thank you Daniel.

With no encouragement, no finish line, no medals - people may have been distanced, but we were together. And together, we were all going further. This, you see, is what happens.  

It wasn't just local support, a load of mates and their mates were out - all running along and joining in - around the country little pockets of runners were out. I couldn't keep track on my phone as the messages and photos flew in... but people were out, moving, physically separate but together. Paul pushed himself to a half marathon - another milestone ticked off. 

It’s within us all, we just need the permission to go.
The first step to going further is simply that, the first step.

I wasn’t just worried about the cold, my knee, my back, I was worried that the few people that were able to join in wouldn’t be able to see what becomes possible. The idea of the 12 x 12 x 12 is not about me going for a run, or a series of them - it’s about what that act of running does for others. It’s about finding people like Daniel, or hearing stories of people going further than they thought was possible. It’s about ordinary people doing the extraordinary.

Into the last hour now, it’s dark.. the end is sight. Car horns are beeping and headlights flashing - Bruce and Olly are out, forming an impromptu motorcade for the last section, I run to the line and turn - I still have 4mins to go.

And we are done. Run 1 was complete.

This was the beginning of my journey, but it was also the start of many others. That’s what counts, that’s what will drive me, not just on the 12hrs, but through the training that makes it all possible.

Just 3 weeks until the next run - on February 20th. New faces, new stories; new goals and new achievements. Hopefully see you there ….

1 comment

  • Robin BTFeb 14, 2021

    Stage 1 complete – Epic effort by all! Great to read about it. Inspiring stuff

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