Friday, 1 February 2013

The Wall Run - assembling the team

Some months ago, the seeds of an idea planted in June 2012 germinated into a little seedling of a thought, which sprouted rapidly into a massive hairy triffid of a plan that wrenched itself free and ran off into the distance. Quite a long way into the distance, as it happens.

That idea was that I should enter The Wall Run, and it started while Ben and I weren't running the Hadrian's Wall half marathon last year. Years ago I decided that my running strengths lay in going further, not faster, and now five marathons later it's time for a new challenge.

But running 69 miles from Carlisle to Newcastle on my own was too daunting, too alien, too alone.

Quickly and inexplicably I recruited two partners in crime: Ben and Alex. Both are men of fine running pedigree whose only failing is being highly impressionable. I once made Alex come out for a run by threatening to call him 'The Paunch' for one month. I can't think of an equivalent anecdote for Ben but the same principle applies. They were both chomping at the bit to get themselves into the challenge.

Thinking that three was a non-ideal squad size, I planted the idea in Neil's head. He's run a marathon recently and is usually up for a challenge. I was certain that he'd be in. Our four-man team was complete.

Neil flat-out rejected the idea as total nonsense. 

I was disappointed, but I totally respected his decision. Until, that is, I gathered a big enough audience for a second attempt to convince him... And so it was that at two in the morning on Halloween, after a few cold drinks and some slurs on his adventurous spirit and sporting credentials, with a dozen pairs of eyes bearing down on him, Neil caved. The game was on.

And the game isn’t racing. It’s adventure, it’s exploration, it’s triumph and disaster. It’s survival. But it’s not racing. Let’s be clear about that. Well, certainly not racing within the team, anyway. Not much. Not much at all. Hmm.

Anyway, at roughly the same time as this plan took shape I was hatching another plan, bidding a fond farewell to my employer of three years; the personal development charity Venture Trust, and moving on to a new role at the University of Stirling. Having seen first-hand the difference that VT’s programmes can make to young people’s lives, I valued the opportunity to contribute to such valuable work through my day job for a number of years, and it seemed only fitting that my step up to ultramarathoning should somehow be positively linked with my move away from VT.

So the Team was assembled, a fundraising page set up, and a challenge set. We would endure 69 miles of banter and blisters, and would attempt to attract some serious money to help people with difficult pasts aspire to better futures.

There will be updates. Many updates. And probably the most epic race report ever to grace these pages. If you’ve read this far, you’ll be excited about the value you’ll extract from these. Please quantify this value in pounds and go and donate it over there. That would be ace.

Happy running,


2013 to date: miles run - 102.05, parkruns: 1, miles biked: 3

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