I can’t believe it’s been a week since I last blogged and what a week it’s been! Last time I shared the news that I’d pushed past the £1,000 mark for my running-fundraising challenge for Maggie’s and had been contacted by the local press. It’s been an interesting week featuring a photo shoot and my most inspirational run of my challenge to date.
I have since smashed through my revised target of £1,100 and am now shooting for the moon to see how close I can get. Currently I’ve raised £1,275 and now trying to raise as much as possible – every penny I raise will be doubled by my company. We had our photo shoot on Friday. It was hilarious! After the simple “standing together holding a Maggie’s banner” shots we were articulated into all manner of contrived poses which I’m sure will offer the picture editor no end of amusement! So far the article hasn’t been published although I’ve been texted by the local journo tonight saying that my story had been bumped by some others but should be in this Saturday’s Oxford Mail and next Wednesday’s Witney Gazette. Fingers crossed for some last minute publicity!
This week’s main event was my long run. I can hear you asking, “But Dan, what’s so special about your long run this week?”. Well, as you might expect, I’m about to reveal all, although you may have guessed from the subtly titled post!
Postponed from the already-unusual Tuesday morning to Wednesday afternoon (due to “fixture congestion” – more on this in a bit) I travelled the 40 minutes to Fairford, in Gloucestershire, in preparation for a 10 mile run. With a complete stranger.
I follow, and am followed by, a large online running community through Twitter. One particular user caught my eye: @740miles21days aka Running Miss Daisy. That, I think you’ll agree, is a long way to run in not much time! His Twitter bio only served to make me more in awe:
On Mon 27th Feb i’l be running740miles in21days passing every football club in the Prem for Alder Hey’s imagineappeal4 all the work they do 4 my nephew
I know I shouldn’t be saying this whilst I’m still completing my own challenge but that makes my challenge look like a walk in the park! Not only is that more than a marathon a day for 3 weeks but how amazing to run the length and breadth of the country via the great footy stadiums of the country.
I found the route John was planning to take on his website http://www.runningmissdaisy.co.uk and noticed that he came staggering close to my hometown, especially considering the lack of Premiership clubs in the vicinity. I knew that I wanted to join him on part of the journey to doth my cap to his challenge whilst clocking up some k’s for my own. The plan was to meet John on day 16 of his challenge where he’d be more than 540 miles into his challenge, at a town called Faringdon (between Oxford and Swindon) and roughly mid-way of his long stretch from Swansea to London.
As you might expect form running about 40 miles a day for two weeks, John’s legs were feeling the strain which meant an unexpected rest day being enforced on the Sunday, throwing my plan to run with him in doubt. I swiftly rearranged my day off to the Wednesday (thanks Boss) and rearranged our meeting place to Fairford, 10 miles West of Faringdon. This Everton fan that I’d never met was so inspiring to me I just had to get out there and run with him.
Arriving in the town of Fairford, best known for it’s annual air show, I was surprised at how pretty it was. I don’t know why, it’s like so many other in the Cotswolds. I found the free car park and decided I’d stretch my legs with a steady lap of the town whilst checking on John’s progress.
With confirmation that both John, and his one-woman support crew that us his Mum, were nearing Fairford I headed back to the car for some last minute hydration, stripped down to my shorts and top, tightened my laces and strapped on my trusty iPhone. A moment later I met Mum (so sorry – I didn’t even ask you your name) and not long after John arrived into the market square, dripping with sweat. This man was certainly putting the effort in!
A quick pitstop for John to refuel was enough time for the two of us to get acquainted, seeing as we’d never met or spoken to each other until now, before we set off towards Lechlade-on-Thames, the town where David Walliams started his swim of the River Thames. For someone who’d covered 500 miles in 2 weeks and 20 miles already that day, John set off with a decent pace. Even more impressive when he started to explain the issues he’d been having with his quads, knees and shins, not to mention his blisters!
I must admit, the A417 would not be my normal choice of running route. I neglected to mention to John, or his Mum for that matter, that a motorcyclist had been killed on the stretch we were about to run just a week before. It’s a section of 60mph trunk road for all manner of vehicles that, whilst being flanked by beautiful countryside is unfortunately not flanked by many footpaths.
I’ve done some off-pavement road running this year but was feeling a little more apprehensive of the A417, especially on hearing that John had not only encountered some very intolerant road users but had also been knocked over by a car just days before! He explained whilst on the left hand of the road due to a severe bend to the right, a car had approached from behind and not given him enough space; it’s wing mirror clipping his hip and sending him to the verge. Luckily John was shaken but not broken but the “bar steward” driver hadn’t even stopped.
We caught up with Mum in the centre of Lechlade, treating herself to a well deserved rum and raisin ice cream, to allow John to cram more liquid and calories down his neck. It’s harder than you think to keep enough calories in the body to sustain running 40 miles a day. And then it was back on the road to head to Faringdon.
The sight of the town in the distance was welcome although John warned that he had been fooled by mirages like this before! I told him I was confident that it was Faringdon and soon enough we had the “Welcome to Faringdon” signs in our view. After a quick photo opp, we headed down into the town, and then up to the Sudbury House Hotel where I would be saying hello to The Wife and a reluctant goodbye to John, who still had another 10 miles to cover before he could stop for the day.
It was great to hear about John’s adventures so far, including a rather unconventional physio appointment in Hay-On-Wye. And to hear more about the inspiration for this superhuman challenge he was undertaking – his young nephew was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 25 months which five different medications have failed to control. Since October, William has suffered seizures almost every night, sometimes having up to 12 seizures in one night. The specialist care that Alder Hey hospital have provided for William and the support and advice William’s family have received from The Daisy Garland meant they were obvious choices for John to raise some money to say thank you.
I appreciate that many of you who read my blog will have donated to my own charity running challenge and I know that the recession is leaving less in your pockets but if you could spare an extra quid or two I know John would appreciate it. I’m sure you don’t need telling but I going to anyway: for what John’s doing for his nephew, he deserves a shedload of donations and much more coverage than he’s got so far.
If you can’t donate cash then please follow him on Twitter, donate a tweet or three, friend him on Facebook (there’s even a couple of photo’s of me on there!), send him messages of support, check out his website, tell all your friends about him and if you happen to know someone famous, or in the national press: tell them about this amazing man and his amazing challenge. He’s a legend in my eyes and I truly hope that we’ll stay in touch long after his toenails have regrown and his quads have stopped aching.
Keep going John, only a few days to go now. Superb effort, an inspiration. You’ve just given me another reason to run my arse off in the final run of my challenge at Carterton 10k on 25th March in the chase to smash my PB!