Snowdonia Marathon 2017.....seconds out....10th and final round...ding ding
Posted on: 01 Nov 2017
12 months ago i started training again. I was 18 stone,very unfit, i was going through lots of tough times, i knew i still had lots of tough times still to come.
I had my mind though focussed on one thing ....and one thing only. The snowdon marathon 2017, A chance to run my hometown marathon just one more time, but much more importantly than that though was the chance to run the final 200m or so hand in hand with my beautiful wife mrs h.
let me tell you how it went.
We started our journey towards north wales early friday morning.Its around 270 miles away from my home in loughton and i knew it would take us 5-6 hours to get there. I wasnt wrong! traffic hold ups and toilet stops made sure we were running a bit late! We stayed at a caravan park in dinas dinnle,right near caernarfon airport, it had been my summer home some 45 years ago when i was a baby. Every year since being born ive tried to get back to see it. Just 2 days here recharges my batteries for the next 363 days until i come back again. My first duty was to visit both my nan and grandads graves and to sprinkle some ashes over them of my late brother gareth. I knew this was what he wanted and i gave him all the respect i possibly could whilst doing my duty. Once this was done i just looked to the stars in the sky and took in as much of the air as i possibly could, deep breaths filling my lungs,i needed welsh power for what lay ahead in the morning.
I awoke early on the saturday ready to fulfill duty number 2, the snowdonia marathon. I knew my fellow realbuzzers would all be congregating at a beautiful cottage just off llanberis high street. Mrs h took me there. The conversation with mrs h in the car was very personal but lets just say i was ready to rumble. I arrived at the cottage early doors and was greeted by so many of my heroes, you guys and girls are incredible, true friendships are those forged in adversity,those forged in times of true hardship,it was as if we had just continued on from the last time i saw you all! The conversation flowed,i tried to look into everyones eyes to see if they were ready,i tried to put people at ease. As all you tried to put me at ease too, i had waited 12 months for this day and now it was here.....I was going to face it head on with the company of the greatest team in the world....team REALBUZZ.
We all walked towards the start,gently raining but nothing major, all with high hopes in our eyes and minds,A minutes applause was given for those to remember loved ones lost recently,i looked upwards towads those mountains and saw many faces i recognised from recent years,all staring right back at me,they had let me pass through their mountains once before in 2015 and i was not going to let ANYTHING stop me passing through them once again today. We then steadily walked towards the start line,step by step getting closer to making our own legacies and history, after a few minutes we were off, i gave a loud CCCCCHHHHHAAAARRRRGGGGEEEEE as i crossed the start line! i felt so aive.
Once again i had my soulmate reddave by my side,he has been my saviour in many of these challenges,i cant thank him enough for slowing himself right down so he can make sure i get round alright,i cant put into words the amount of respect i have for this wonderful man,also the respect i have for all of you who have ran next to me during these challenges,im one of the slowest on here and everyone had to slow their own paces to run with me, it will never be forgotten. Today at snowdon i also had mr barber by my side,he had badly injured his ankle a few weeks before but still had the guts to take on the toughest marathon in the uk. And it was mostly to mr barber i was speaking too as we took on pen-y-pass. Now for those who dont know pen -y -pass is a 3 mile climb through beautiful mountains during the first 5 miles of the marathon,its not a brutal climb but it is a climb that demends huge respect. there is probably more elevation in the first 200 m of it then there is in any other marathon i had ran this year. I enjoyed running it with mr barber, we chatted about lots of personal things,we talked about family and love and fight, these made the miles go quickly even though they were straight up hill!
The good thing after running up a hill is the pay back of running down the other side! my only problem is that my joints hurt a lot more whilst running don hill, my hips and especially the left hip had been screaming at me for months now and as i tried to protect those my back started to spasm....everyone else was flying down and i was limping and cursing down! But plough on we did! i was with reddave and mr b by now and occasionally we would see libby or 2.12 jane fly past us as i struggled. its so great to see those you hugely respect and admire flying into the distance,it makes you feel proud to know them. At around mile 8 or so the road flattens out on the way towards bedgellert. That was our next target as we knew a huge cheering squad of realbuzz legends would be right there awaiting our arrival. It was around mile 8 that i knew i was in trouble, my stride was poor and i was leaning badly to try to eradicate pain,i tried to keep this quiet but i think the experienced runners that mr b and RD are they could see me struggling a bit. They ran a bit onwards to give me a target,i could see them up in the distance and they gently pulled me along......
We had caught up young libby as we approached halfway and bedgellert and we decided to do this section together,WHAT a sight we saw as we turned right and over the bridge,I cant describe how great it felt to see all the realbuzz crew of legends waiting for us on the sidelines with banners and hugs and smiles and tears, how can you not be inspired by those who take their time out to come and cheer you on, and these are not just normal people, they are my peers,my heroes and those i look up too to gain inspiration from, i wanted to stay as long as possible to feed off their greatness, but..we had hit halfway in around 2 hours 17 mins and i knew the toughest half by far was still to come.
The hill up from bedgellert stretches for around a mile and a half and its brutal, its only now that you realise the climb at pen -y -pass had drained your legs as you hit this beauty of a beast! this course is not for the faint hearted! we ploughed on,we tried to help as many we culd that we saw struggling, how lucky were they to be helped by realbuzzers eh! we shine when the going gets tough! we excel when others start to fade. We pushed on....miles 14-15-16-17 and 18 came and went and i was fighting my nuts off,i wasin huge pain but i knew i was in the last 10 miles or so of my 334 mile challenge, i also knew i was in 10 miles or so of fulfilling my dream of running down llanberis high street with my beautiful mrs h. I cant describe to you how hard i was fighting to keep moving forwards, by now i had taken 8 painkillers and my eyes were starting to tire too. it was in these miles that i thank mr barber and red dave the most,they knew i was in trouble and they let me be,i dont like talking when im struggling as i need to go into a place in my mind reserved for moments like this, i need to visulise all the tough moments ive seen in the cancer wards these last 19 months, i need to draw strength from memory. This worked...we slowly but surely got to mile 20.....
Mile 20 is a huge barrier in any marathon, 20 is only a number just like many others but in a marathon it seems to be the number where you start to believe you can bring the bacon home, only a 10k to go.....and mr b and red dave kept relaying this message to me. i was grinning,only 6 miles to mrs h. At mile 21 you turn right and start your last huge climb,now THIS climb is the brute of the course,your mentally shot and physically shot too but now you have to negotiate a very tough 3 mile climb up into the clouds! mr barber had said out loud (silly bugger) that he was going to run the whole part of the hill! now once mr barber says something he means it! and off he went like the mountain goat that he is....2.12 jane was with us by now and her and red dave ploughed n up the hill as i took in deep breaths. one of my avourite memories of all 10 marathons plus the hadrians wall ultra came right here..... as we ascended into the clouds i could see red dave and 2.12 jane dissapear into the mist,it was very surreal and very peaceful, here....right now....in the toughest part of the toughest marathon in the uk ..i was at peace....totally at peace....at home.....it was cold but i felt no wind or rain....i ploughed on to make myself dissapear into the mist for those behind me to focus on.
As you hit ile 24 you start the descent....this was my slowest 2 miles of the race, it was so slippery and for me very dangerous for my bones, if i fell i couldnt be sure something wouldnt snap,i had come so far in the last 6 months and i couldnt end the journey in a ambulance. I took ages,i didnt care, i wasinching closer to my dream, inch by inch i was getting closer to my beauty and my family. Lots of thoughts crossed my mind, i tried to remember every start line and every finish line now, before this i had erased them from my mind as they were merely stepping stones towards this moment. i could here the crowd cheering but i was in my zone, i had to find my mrs h.
Just on the corner before you turn right for llanberis high street i found her, it had taken 334 miles in just over 69 hours of pure pain and torture but i now had her hand, i didnt know what to feel, when you wait so long for something at its there....right there at that moment....it just feels so surreal, like a dream.....i knew we had to finish so i headed towards the finish line, this bit was all a bit of a daze for me as i was trying to take it all in but i remember seeing so many of my heroes from realbuzz on the finishing stretch cheering us in,i remember people i didnt know but obviuosly they had heard of the story shouting out.'CMON MRS H' she had a huge smile on her face as we flew down towards the finish! THIS is exactly how i wanted it to be, my beauty getting all the cheers,the applause,the adualation,not me, im just a runner,she has fought cancer for 20 months and cant run, i felt so proud of her, i was smiling lots by now and waving to the crowd to cheer mrs h name. We crossed the finish line......we hugged.....we both didnt want to let go of the other.....there we were being watched by hundreds but it felt like it was just me and her left in the whole world...a very very special moment that ill never ever top....a moment that we will both never forget....We had both brought home number 10 and we had both delivered the goods as promised.
Seeing everyone at the end was truly awesome,there were still a few buzzers left on the course and this team never leaves anyone out there alone,its not my duty to tell you other peoples stories but lets just say legends were made and legends grew stronger that very special day.
The after party was a huge success, dining and drinking and chatting with those you love is the greatest feeling in the world and doing it after completing a very tough marathon makes it even more special. Me and mrs h were given a very beautiful gift from the hawkesbury runners and managed to say a few words, i dont know what i said but i hope it as ok, it had been such an emotional journey for me that i was running on empty and my brain wasnt functioning properly....it was either that or the 14 pints of guiness and the white wine spritzer that done it!
On the sunday i had one final duty to fulfill,the rest of my brothers ashes were in my pocket, my last conversation i ever had with him finished with him saying he wanted to climb snowdon just one more time but he was too weak,i promised him that i would carry him to the top if i needed too.....well today i was going to do just that. shoulder to shoulder with fellow realbuzzers we climbed and climbed and climbed,many were doing it for their own reasons and they will blog their own stories but once we go to the summit me and my son sam went around the back,i found the spot where i buried a picture of him last year and scattered his ashes over that area.job done,heart proud,mind at rest, brother smiling down on me!
So there we have it everyone, 334 miles covered in 69 hours and a few minutes. i managed to average under 5 hours per marathon for the 10,very happy with that! i managed to somehow finish them all! i managed to defy my bones and muscles and i managed to do something i never ever thought i could do.....make peace with my mind. i feel content, the fire has gone out,no need for it to be alight anymore. ive fulfilled my promises and duties to the charity and to all you and to my wife and family. will the fire come back in the future? well... marathon wise no....once im fixed up properly and i will wait for that to happen then i still have a desire or a fire so to speak to try to become a centurion.
We all must have a goal in the future to focus on.
big love to you all and big hugs and thanks to all who have helped my during this challenge. ive tried to write these blogs as if it were rounds of boxing.....im confident i can put my arm aloft over my head and be declared champion of the challenge!
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