Course profile

Course profile
What lies in wait on 2nd July - The 110k course profile

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Reasons and motivations

Everyone has their reasons for entering a run like the one I've signed up for. For me, it's more than simply a physical challenge, entered out of curiosity or a need to 'push myself'.

I've mentioned before that the initial inspiration to enter came from my little sister Ruth's death from cancer. There's nothing I can do that can bring her back, but I hope that anything I raise can help Cancer Research just a little with defeating this awful disease. There's no way I would ever have entered without this worst possible turn of events and thinking of her when running helps. On longer runs when it has been starting to get tough I've been reminding myself that the pain and discomfort I'm experiencing is nothing, nothing at all, compared to what she went through. It's a hard thing to even think about, let alone to write, but it's helping me get through. Thinking these thoughts while out running have made me feel quite emotional with my still relatively short runs so I can only image the sort of mess I might well be in come the actual event. But with Ruth as my inspiration I feel determined to do this - it's an inspiration I'd give anything to not have but it's where I am.

I've run on and off through my life and I think if you've had any contact with any sport there's always a curiosity as to what it's like at the extreme end of that sport. This is a category I think it's fair to say that this run fits into and while I'm nervous and finding it tough to stick to the training and worried I might fail despite everything it's still exciting to be attempting it and it feels like something positive has come out of something that really doesn't have any positives.

It's hard as well for me to focus just on the disease and what happened to our family. I also wanted to make the run about something else as I don't think I would have the strength to carry on if it was all about the cancer. It's still too soon and it would feel like too much of a massive weight, a dark cloud hanging over me. So it occurred to me to give a percentage of anything I raise to Fix the Fells, the organisation that looks after the paths and trails of the Lake District fells.

I'm on more comfortable ground here. I've worked as a National Trust ranger for the last ten years, four years of which I spent on an upland footpath team. Now in my job at the volunteer centre High Wray Basecamp I spend a good chunk of each summer working on the fells with volunteer groups, dealing with path erosion problems as part of Fix the Fells. So I think I'm well placed to say that the upland paths need our help. Brown Tongue, just one of the three main routes up Scafell Pike can see 1000 people walk up it in a month in summer and that's just one path in one month. Multiple events, especially the three peaks charity walks, use the fells as a 'facility', but all to often nothing is given back to look after the place. I'm pleased to report the Lakeland Trails events do donate to Fix the Fells, but upland path work is underfunded and there's always more needed.

So while I'm running round in July, I'll be remembering my sister but also keeping an eye on the paths below my feet.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Marathon musings

Whilst out splashing along the muddy trails today I was musing on the question of why so many people run on roads or pavements. It's not a snipe, because it's what I did for years, but the more I think about it the stranger I find it. I can sort of understand it if you live in a big town, but even then there's often parks or cycle routes or some sort of other option. But most days when I drive to work I'll see a fair few folk running on the pavement alongside the A591 between Windermere and Ambleside, quite a busy road, when there are wealth of other options available.

It's a bigger question than I've got the talent (or inclination) to go into. I've recently read a book called 'Run Wild' by the unlikely sounding Boff Whalley (a member of Chumbawumba, no less) which addresses this in some detail. One of his theories is that city marathons have become such big events that they've overshadowed all other forms of running and sort of conditioned everyone to think this is the pinnacle, the target, the ultimate aim for a runner. I think.
Wet, but so much better on the knees ..... and no cars!
Don't know if that explains the popularity of the Windermere marathon though, which conducts a full circuit of England's largest lake. Sounds pleasant enough, until you look at the route. Not only is it all on roads, but the second half goes along the quite narrow and very busy A592 - and the road isn't closed to traffic. And there is no pavement. Some friends of ours saw this last year and described a scene of absolute chaos, runners all over the road, mixed in with a queue of angry traffic with the drivers taking all sorts of risks to overtake the runners in their way.

Horrible enough, but consider the 'ten in ten' participants. They do this marathon once a day, ten times in a row, with the last one being on the same day as the full event. And I thought my run sounded tough!
Wet feet ahoy!
Maybe though, it's something simpler. Maybe it's wet feet. Each time I start out on a run now I can't resist hopping and skipping around in a ridiculous manner, trying to avoid puddles. I know my feet will be soaked sooner or later and don't mind when they are (it's quite liberating actually), but I can't avoid trying to put it off as long as possible.

I'm sure it's more complex than that, but to those fearing the soggy shoe I say join us! You have nothing to lose but your dry socks .....