Why I Run, and Run Long

Running for Spinal Research


Posted: 10 May 2011
by GMAN 11

Marathon des Sables
A short rest in the dune - the 'long day' 91KM

I’m a ‘normal’ bloke - married with a young family, Benjamin aged 6 and Holly aged 2.  Work is a significant part of my life, second only to my family, and I continually strive for success within my field.

Although I have never excelled at sports, rugby has always been a great love of mine. A spinal injury forced me to stop actively playing but I still follow the game passionately from the touchline.

When I stopped playing rugby I did nothing for 16 months. It was my desire to give something back to the doctors that had helped me recover that led me to train for and run my first London Marathon – raising money to support Spinal Research. Up to then I had always hated running (unless I had a ball tucked under my arm and an eye on the touchline) – I’m not even sure I like running now! But for me it is a means to an end.

I will never win a running race but I will never give up either - that’s part of my character. I have run in several ‘ultra’ races (over 26 miles) and have completed them all except one! That one was the Fellsman - 63 miles of rough terrain with a 13,000 feet ascent. At the time I had only been running for six months and on reflection it was far too much, far too soon. After 44 miles and twenty hours of running my body gave up and there was nothing my mind could do about it. I was diagnosed with exhaustion and spent the next 10 days on crutches. But as for commitment - I went back the next year and completed the Fellsman in 21 hours. I’ve never let a race beat me since.

I’ve chosen distance running as it as hard on your mind as on your body – which suits me perfectly. I regularly see physically superior athletes throw in the towel because they are not mentally strong enough. What gets me through is a stubborn determination - it’s a bit like my approach to DIY: you can make anything fit if you use a big enough hammer and hit it hard enough.

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