Albania is the next place for a new challenge!
Well how wrong was I, they were as engaged as any group I have spoken to but also so compassionate and interested in the detail of both prostate cancer and the adventures that I take on. A lot of negative stuff is said about football players but if this next generation are anything to go by, the morals within the sport is in safe hands.
You may also recall that I was awaiting the total amount of money raised by my friends and colleagues in RBS by completing 7 marathons in & days.I said last time that I hoped it would be over £50k well it certainly was as the final figure including some generous support from the Bank totalled just short of £90,000, that is an amazing amount of money and will make a real difference to Prostate Cancer UK's battle to tame this terrible disease. Thanks again to all who took part and/or sponsored them, I am yet again humbled.
A few days later it was back to business as I was trying to complete the Al Andalus 230k race in Spain that beat me last year being timed out with 18k to go. This year was definitely a case of a year older and wiser. I knew what went wrong last year and paced myself a bit better all week this time saving some energy for the 40 mile long stage on day 4. I was delighted with getting through each day in the heat and completed the race quite fast (well for me anyway!). What really surprised me however is that when I got home and compared times with last year I was about 30 minutes faster every day, it goes to show what better preparation can do rather than being gung-ho as I was last time. Like so many Ultra races, everyone involved were a joy to be with, well organised and great fun. This race for anyone who ever fancies an overseas multi day ultra is amazing value, in fact the best value race of this type I have ever done.
Next up, I had a family holiday, I say family but my oldest kids don't come anymore being at work and University. It does change the dynamic of the holiday somewhat but I guess we all have to accept that gradually our children will have more of their own lives to lead, its a bitter sweet pill to see anyone important in your life grow and move on. As for the holiday, well I am lucky that my brother in law has a holiday home in Charleston South Carolina. It is a fantastic place and a real opportunity to unwind and forget about all the things that usually cram my head, escapism at its best.
On my return I stayed at a friends house in Somerset, he had generously given me the opportunity to spend some time training there but he also had a surprise in store. He had somehow managed to get a few of his friends together who have access to light aircraft and I ended up having some fab rides in a 1950s chipmunk doing aerobatics in fact what I would call hardcore aerobatics at that, loops, stall turns, barrel roles just to name a few, a definite opportunity and thrill of a lifetime. I also went gliding twice. It was a bit unnerving being given a parachute as I got into the glider in case I had to bail. The reality is that you would realise that it had all gone wrong when you had dropped to 500 feet, at that time the few seconds it would take to bail would have you lower and then pull the cord at maybe 300 feet when you need probably more than 500 feet to land safely, fortunately I didn't dwell on that too much and never had to bail! The photos are of me in the chipmunk and an amazing likeness of me to Maverick, not sure how you tell us apart!
Of course all the great things that I manage to do have to be balanced off with all the medical stuff and having been away for a few weeks they all caught up with me last week with 5 different appointments for blood tests, acupuncture, physio, cancer blood results and hormone implants. Whilst none of them are pleasant in any way, they are a necessary thing for me to have. Mentally I know that they all help me get out there and live and most of the time I keep the darker side of what they mean away, collectively they were not perfect but good enough and I will take good enough any day.
Finally, last Saturday, I completed the Hangman ultra race, 34 glorious mile race near Andover out and back to a sinister Gibbet on top of a hill. A great race in which I am one of only two people who have run all three races since they started. It also gave me the opportunity to meet up with a few friends who I had previously run multi day overseas ultras with. Its funny but although I have only ever spent one week with each of these people its like seeing a long lost friend. There is something about the bond you build with people when having that lifeboat mentality in a strange place pushing yourself to the limit that just cant be taken away. After I finished, Andy, the guy who organised the race (and seems to unselfishly spend his whole life furthering the sport of ultra running for all abilities) asked me if I had seen the latest issue of Ultra magazine (www.ultra-magazine.com). This magazine is the only printed magazine in Europe about ultra running. I had not seen the latest issue but when I did I had another humbling moment. In the annual awards Mark, another guy with cancer and I had jointly won the "Balls of steel" award for taking on tough challenges despite everything coming at us. I am not sure I deserved this accolade as many others take on mad races in all kinds of adversity but I hope like other opportunities I have had others realise that if Kev can do stuff then anyone can, in fact its you guys who inspire me to do these things.
I have one event left in my "year of running" which is a 230k 6 day race in Albania in 3 weeks time. This race is in the mountains of Albania, 8,000 meters of climb, something that I struggle with so we will see if I manage to complete it. no matter what however, I am looking forward to being in an unspoiled part of an unspoiled country in a new lifeboat with new people from around the world sharing at least one common interest.
Thanks to everyone who has supported me in any way, I don't say thank you enough to all the right people but I promise you I notice every positive thought, word or deed and they keep me going.
I do have an exciting request but I have to keep it under wraps for another few days so get ready for a very short email again in the next two weeks. Between then and now, enjoy every second of every day and bring others on your journey if its good and if its not the best see if you can piggy back someone else's happiness as they should be delighted to help make your day better as I am sure you would the other way round.
Take care, thanks for reading, smile often
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