Tim Arnold – take a bow!
Tim had this great idea. Tim thought I’d be up for his great idea. “Hadrian’s Wall mate, only 69 miles, fancy it?” That’s how I remember the phone call. “Only”.
So I headed to the Rat Race website for ‘The Wall’ and pondered on what for me should have been an absolute no no. Just six months before and after a third operation on my right knee, I’d been shown pics of the inside of my knee and even to a numpty like me – the arthritis was all too obvious. My doc was sent a letter saying no impact sports, from skydiving to running and a big black cloud called knee replacement hangs ever over me. So here I was, considering a 69 mile running race and knowing it might just be a bit much for me ol’ body. Tim had pressed the right buttons, I hate being told I can’t do something. It’s a bad trait but one that’s led to all sorts of random missions and adventures, even some of the best times of my life. Pah.
Back on the phone to Tim – ‘I reckon the Expert Class will be easier. My legs won’t take kindly to doing 35 miles one day, sleeping and another 34 miles the next day. I’m sure I’ll cope better with doing all 69 in one hit’.
All adventures start somewhere and on boxing day, I left Mile End and headed to Worthing for a session in the gym with Tim. ‘The Wall’ has been a dark, brooding, malevolent presence ever since – every time I’ve bummed about, it’s been there, laughing at my ignorance of what an ultra run is. When I’ve been for a 6 mile run – it’s been there, reminding me I should have run 10. When the body has been burning with training pain – it’s been there, I can almost hear it telling me I have no realisation of what agony is yet. It’s been like a bullying, older sibling to be honest.
Why? Lot’s of reasons but mostly because if I don’t do an Ultra now, then I may never do one. I guess that qualifies it for the bucket list and to be honest, it’s felt a bit like that but it’s also been strangely liberating, like sticking two fingers up at the consultant who told me not to run again. When the whistle or horn or whatever they have to start the race sounds – it’ll feel like I’m punching the dumb driver who ran me over 5 years, straight on his hooter, full cock. Somehow, somewhere in the last 6 months, it’s started to feel like I’ve got myself back and I’m finally pulling the strings again.
Dad’s gonna come and be support, hotels are booked and 800 people have entered the two classes. Mr Blue Sky will hopefully stay away. Please.
Roll on Saturday.