Sometimes a personal blog can be all about yourself. I guess that is inevitable. It is easy to get caught in the trap of talking about your own experiences so much that your forget there are other things going on. Other achievements being had. Other experiences being made. I was mulling this over on my morning run (see, all about me again) and I got to thinking, what running achievements have moved and inspired me this year?
At #5: West Highland Way race heroes
West Highland Way race created a couple of incredible memories for me. I going to single out three people whom I was truly inspired by. First is Rob Reid, the oldest ever finisher. A man in his 70s and still able to do the WHW race with both aplomb and a grin. But more than that, it was the vitality with which he bounded down those stairs to get his goblet. When I am 70 I hope to be able to take stairs like that, nevermind having just run almost 100 miles. Then there is Adrian Stott, 13, or is it 14 finishes in the race? But there he was cuddling into the 2016 goblet as if it were his first. The reason, well, he’d picked up an injury early doors and toughed out a beast of a run just to finish. Lastly, a good friend from the local running community Graham MacBroom bested the WHW for a very laudable finish. He was zonked the next day but had a grin that sledgehammer used by Lou Ferringo couldn’t have taken away. I had personal insight into what this meant to him and it was ace to see.
At #4: Tears on my behalf
I have a mate. Officially he is called Alan, like when he is in court (never, except jury duty), or at church (christenings and weddings only) and at work. I now work beside him as he joined the same company but we have been friends for almost 20 years. He crewed for me at the WHW and the Tooting Bec races. At the latter, as we were completing a slow last lap with saltire and smiles, he comes up and gives me and Andy a hug. His voice breaking and all emotional. In an instant I realised just how much this meant to him. Having someone on your bag who is so invested in what you are doing, well that can only serve to push you on.
At #3: A coach who hurts and leads by example
It’d be hard for me to go through a year like I have had without mentioning Paul Giblin who most people know has coached me for a couple of years now. And it would be easy for me to pick his Western States performance as one of the highlights, but it wasn’t the one for me. The image of Paul wincing step by step as came to the UTMB finish, the agony etched on his face as he fought his way to a top 20 finish just weeks after WSER, stayed with me for weeks. This was determination, stubbornness and sheer will which had been drawn upon for long long hours in a brutal race. We all have our own motivators, and only Paul will know what it took to do this, but I pull on that imagery when I felt the going getting tough in training or in racing and I expect I will again sometime in the near future.
At #2: #fuckyeah
I don’t think I have laughed so much as at John Connolly’s acceptance speech whilst standing on the podium at the Devil O’ The Highlands race. He’d had a torrid time with injury in 2015 and went onto the start line at the Devil with his own internal battles to overcome and did so with a handsome win and a great shout at the end that has become a hashtag in itself. Whenever John or his brother Graham comment on my posts I get dread and excitement in equal measure.
At #1: A reluctant hero
It’s funny to hear people downplay their own achievements so grandly. If I was to tell you about someone who has won races, finished on a number of podiums, ran over 5,000km and won the Scottish Ultra Marathon series you’d be blown away. And she did all of this to raise awareness and thousands of pounds for Motor Neurone Disease as a tribute to a friend. Jeni Rees-Jenkins is also one of the most down to earth people you could hope to meet and spent most of a conversation I had with her batting away plaudits, instead focusing on others and what they have done. It was genuine humility from a top runner, lass and human. A reminder that this is after all, a hobby and all about human endeavour.
I always find it quite energising to think of folks like those above when I am looking for motivation and energy. I hope this gets you thinking of those “heroes” who get you off the couch.