Hope Tour: Days 3-6 - Barnsley to Melton Mowbray

Apologies for not posting another blog sooner. Injuries, slower pace and thus more time on my feet running (shuffling) has meant less time for doing this sort of thing. Here’s a summary of days 3-6:

Day three: Barnsley to Chesterfield

Hideous. The Gods of ice and rain battled it out above our heads to see who could make our lives the most difficult. Answer: both of the buggers. I was accompanied at the back by a charming runner called Mike, from Cambridge, who had optimistically arrived armed with nothing more than T-shirt and shorts. A strategy not unlike turning up for an arctic trek in budgie smugglers.

Once Mike had been kitted out by us with appropriate attire, we all set about getting lost several times (and, even though we were strung out along the course, in exactly the same places). I ended up doing 29 miles and we all made a resolution that from now on wherever your 26.2 finished you stopped and called a crew car to come pick you up. Extra miles help nobody apart from Scholl.

Day four: Chesterfield to Derby

This is where our bodies really started to protest about the battering they were taking. Everyone picked up some sort of injury on this leg and due to my left knee not cooperating (all the muscles around it locked up and prevented it from bending) I was forced to perfect a peculiar Quasimodo-type shamble, which looked comical but at least allowed me to keep moving at more than the pace of an arthritic snail. I’m going to call this move, ‘The Modo’. Expect to see it sweeping the dancefloors of the nation some time soon.

Day 5 Derby to Loughborough

The Modo was out in force here. My slowest day yet at around 7hrs 50. You might think ‘What? You can walk it quicker than that!’

Yes, if you’re fit and able to perambulate in a normal fashion. Not if you’re working on one leg, moving into headwinds and with low spirits and even lower energy. Definitely in the top ten worst days of my life. In fact, the only thing that kept me going was thinking that even this was a piece of cake compared to orphan kids living on rubbish dumps in Africa. So I filled my head with thoughts of what the money we are raising for www.hopehiv.org will do once it reaches the right places.

Day 6 Loughborough to Melton Mowbray

Three things of note happened on this leg:

1. The obvious one. We all split a massive pork pie at the end. Rude not to and all that. Don’t look at me like that – you’d do the same.

2. I was overtaken by a flatcapped duffer on a mobility scooter who gave me a look of such pitying disgust as he trundled past that I doubt I’ll ever fully get over the experience.

3. Around mile 17, I was shuffling along, scuffing my feet on the floor and thanking my stars that ASICS outsoles are made of stern stuff, when a septuagenarian chap strolled past with a belly so big a cow could have tap-danced on it. As I looked up he said ‘My word you’ve seen better days, lad’.

I explained grumpily what I was doing and continued on my way, pride well and truly battered. Five minutes later a car pulled up ahead and a beautiful woman in riding gear jumped out accompanied by the old geezer. ‘Dad’s just rushed in the house and told me what you’re doing,’ she said. ‘I think it’s completely amazing. Here.’ And she thrust a tenner into my hand.

I would have stayed to flirt but all my best lines had escaped me and I looked like a malodorous P.O.W, so I carried on down the street like the Littlest Hobo – but this time with a Ready Brek glow that enabled me to pick up my feet and trot to the finish line with something approaching vigour for the first time in days.

Thanks to our sponsors: ASICS, Saucony, Eat Natural, Iceni Water, Nectar, Nike, Holiday Inn, Fit4Sport, Zone3 and Vitality Whey.