At 43 some (my Mum) would say that I should know better than to take part in the Race to the Stones which is a 100km (63ish mile) trail Ultra Marathon along the Ridgeway but I certainly wasn’t the oldest there and I had spent 43 years not heeding parental advice so it didn’t seem right that I should start now.
As a soldier I had traditionally supported military charities but an unfortunate series of events compelled me to switch allegiance and support the outstanding work of the marvelous people of Sobell.
The preparation and training had gone well until early May whereupon during one small (35 mile) training run my knee gave way and appeared to be more suited to that of an African Elephant. After copious Ibruprofen and ice packs I was able to crack on with training just two weeks to go before the event.
Event day arrived and at 0800 the runners and walkers set off from Lewknor and made their way to Avebury Stone circle and the glory that came with it. As the starter gun sounded the clouds parted revealing glorious July sunshine that had been hiding behind. Bathing the beautiful rolling Berkshire scenery, which blended seamlessly into Oxfordshire and onwards to Wiltshire, I along with 865 runners and a further couple of thousand walkers meandered from check point to checkpoint buoyed by the support of absolute strangers who clapped and whistled as one hobbled past.
Such is the nature of events like this that inevitably one is left with elongated periods of isolation which in turn leads the mind to ponder questions such as, ‘how am I doing?, ‘will I make it and in what time?’ but never this time ‘why oh why am I doing this?’. GPS watches and energy bars took care of the first two questions but the third was even easier to answer. There are some people who are machines; they can rock up to these events, run them (no doubt contemplating a lap of honour), skip home in time to cut the grass. Others, such as me, need the support of family and friends on the day and the backing and good wishes of the many generous donators that shared the same respect for the charities as I do. Uppermost in my mind though was the journey people inevitably go through before they get to Sobell’s front door. Luckily I have not had first hand experience of this but I do know that the care people get in the twilight of their lives and the comfort that families get knowing their loved ones will be cared for with dignity until the very end is beyond anything I could offer. That for me was the single most driving factor and when the blisters popped and the knees wobbled I might have raised the odd eyebrow with the muttered chant of ‘stay strong’ but I can say not for one second did I want to quit. Don’t get me wrong, I was looking forward to the end but I would enjoy each step along the way.
So after just over 13 and half hours, or 100km, or 110,348 steps, or 12 ,389 calories I crossed the finish line. Ok, I wasn’t 1st but I wasn’t last and that’s good enough for me. The euphoria was short lived and I began seizing up and throwing up much to the annoyance of my support runner who reminded me that I was wasting valuable celebration time. Sickness passes and blisters heal long before the memory of finishing events like this fades and long before the 31 donors who gave nearly a Thousand Pounds forget the herculean efforts of the people in Sobell.
If you would like to run to support Sobell please contact:
Kevin Game | Kevin.Game@SobellHospice.org
or call our charity office: 01865 857012