I set out at the beginning of 2010 to do something good for a great friend of mine who taught me all I know about map reading, the mountains of Britain, ornithology and a love of music - particularly the guitar.
John had taken me walking and Youth Hostelling when I was a young teenager with his son - my Dad wasn't into outdoor stuff. John played mouth organ and guitar and always had his mouth organ in his rucksack and brought it out for a sing-song each evening. From Sca Fell and the Lakeland Peaks to Snowdon, Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach in North Wales, the mighty Bens of Scotland then to the beautiful Yorkshire Dales and the sublime Peak District he took us on many trips, and then the ultimate adventures of the Pennine Way, Offa's Dyke, Highland Way and Coast to Coast which for a young man with a love of a challenge was just the thing to keep me on the straight and narrow.
I then grew up and moved away to work, marry and have my own family.
I stayed in touch occasionally, but lives are busy. Then I heard the bad news! Bowel cancer. I wept while sat at my desk at the thought of my friend being struck down. He had lost a lot of weight and was struggling with a stoma bag. He could barely walk, talk or eat but was fighting it. I wrote and posted a letter to him that very moment, for his wife to take to hospital. I then decided to find out all I could about this disease and its effects. My great grandma and grandma had suffered with it and I too had been diagnosed with Coeliac disease a precusor of bowel cancer 20 years earlier but didn't really know enough about it. I read and read and then started to run and run, as I was angry and frustrated at my friend's struggle. John was recovering from a third operation and then I heard Colin was now down with the same disease. Why?
I got in touch with the charity Bowel and Cancer Research, sent them a donation and then signed up for some running events. I had never run a full marathon before and now nearer to 50 than 40 I wondered what I had signed up for. During the worst winter for some years I trained. Through snow, rain and hail in freezing temperatures I ran the Monsal Trail to my office most days and then at the weekends hit the Peak District routes where I now live and work.
The London Marathon came first in 2010 and then the Great North Run and then the Birmingham Half-Marathon and so it goes on. Through the year I called a barn dance! That was crazy. Packed shopping bags in Morrisons begged and cajoled. This year I have been injured - a trapped nerve in my back, a torn calf muscle and more. Silverstone Half, Reading Half, Sheffield Half and the Great North Run are just some of the runs I signed up for. My wife and three daughters all run so we are staying fit and so we can enjoy our food.
Why do you do it? I run because I can and I have the highest motive and though I haven't raised many thousands of pounds every penny counts to try and ease the suffering caused by bowel cancer. If you cant run just raise a glass to my friends John and Colin and to all having a hard time and go to www.justgiving.com/mark-street.