So, I’m halfway; no, we are halfway. In fact, we are only just beginning.
When I started this challenge I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve run 100km a few times and done my fair share of difficult challenges, but I wasn’t sure what was ahead with this one.
The first run was in January - at the height (or perhaps the low) of the winter lockdown. I was buoyed by the number of people that showed up; it all went to plan, not that there really was a plan, but it all seemed to work. Starting and ending in the dark, the 'plus 1 rule' meaning only two people allowed to exercise together ...... and yet, we found a way.
Each month came, each run loomed and, with each one, a new challenge or difficulty was overcome. From Boris' ever changing mind, extremely unhelpful councils, through to hugely supportive people - we experienced it all. It was apparent that people needed this more than ever; they needed a reason to get out and be together - it’s human nature.
We have witnessed and listened to some magical stories, some incredible transformations and endless shared strides. One lesson to take from each run so far has been this: if you show up in life, you get to be a part of the experience. If you don’t, you will never know.
As a nation and society, we seem to be emerging from a collective state of fear. To a greater or lesser extent, everyone has been affected by the last year or so. Believe what you want, absorb news from whatever your source but the truth is - we are far from through this. The impact on people’s lives is only just being felt, the true depth of the damage inflicted upon everyone by a select few will probably never truly be known.
As with everything in life it is all about perspective, but there are few fundamental truths out there.
So here is mine: we have to wake up, show up and take control of our own minds and bodies. Nobody, I mean nobody, can or will do it for you.
With all our events so far we have lead with the simple premise of “just show up” and for those that have, I think they have all seen why. The simple (not always easy) act of turning up and taking part is in itself half the battle.
Everyone who has come along has far exceeded what they thought was possible, without exception everyone has pushed their own boundaries - whether that is someone who comes for 5km or 12 hours and everything in between. I am not going to call out people by name, the very point of this whole challenge is that people gain something for themselves - that accolade resides forever in their soul and not on a wall.
That boundary pushing starts with me. This last 6 months has changed me, perhaps more accurately reignited me. There is this belief that I can just turn up and run, turn up.. run for 12 hours and then carry on. To a certain extent that is true, well at least that’s what I seem to be doing… but behind the scenes it is far from. At times I am at breaking point.
Mentally the runs are very draining. Summed up well by Nick, who himself not a novice when it comes to Ultra marathons. He exclaimed “you’ve taken on one hell of challenge here”. Between each run is the training, miles and miles of running and lots of hours on the bike. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it, but it has to be done. A day off is to be enjoyed with trepidation; it is brief and more training will come afterwards.
12 hours of running is a lot and it takes its toll on your body, so does all the training, so most weeks I am at the Osteopathy Clinic being treated by Laura. She has no easy task. "Rest it for a few weeks” is not an option here ...... and my biggest fear is an injury. For now, we’ve managed to keep on top of everything. I say we.... I mean Laura!
So as we look ahead for the next six runs, what are we trying to achieve?
For a start, who actually is the 'we'? At the very core of this series of events are Rach and Paul - both uniquely incredible human beings, proud to call them friends. (They both just stopped reading this blog post!) Firstly they support me, they challenge me and they both remind me that what we are doing matters. Without them both I wouldn’t have got to halfway. They will certainly be helping me power through the second half - so, thank you Rach and Paul, thank you.
So what are we trying, no, what are we going to do?
We are going to reach as many people as we possibly can.
We are going to do our best to create events where each person discovers more, more about themselves, more about their friends, family and colleagues.
We are going to encourage, push, support and show everyone that wherever you are on this sometimes confusing journey called life, that there is a way to add a lot more joy, to improve and grow, to flourish.
There have been so many wonderful stories along the way, I won’t claim that these events are the answer, they aren’t, but they can be the beginning ..... the first step as we all move forwards, regain our shared time, shared experience, shared purpose - together. Banishing the collective fear, and reminding ourselves that being human, being together is imperative and that together, there is no doubt, we are stronger. We are all on this journey, so let’s all get on with it.
So I’m halfway through this challenge, I feel like it's also a new beginning.
I’ll do my best, I’ll raise the bar and work out how we can reach as many people as possible… and from you all, all I ask is that you continue to get out there, to show up, to support yourself, to challenge and strive for more, to surround yourself with people that help your thrive.
There is no doubt, together we can make a huge difference, but it starts with ourselves, build from there..... your opportunities become limitless.