There is one thing which I will unashamably admit – I absolutely love Marathon's and I guess it is something that is almost bordering on addiction. And no – I'm not talking about getting on a pair of running shoes and breaking into more than a fast walk which is known as running – and running for a very long time – 26 miles in fact! 26 miles is roughly the distance between my house and Salisbury Hospital where I go, occasionally, to see my PD Support Nurse James. Noooo – running is not for me as I discovered last year when in a mad moment I enrolled on a beginners running course at Marlborough Running Club – only to be advised about a month later by my two coaches that I would never make a runner – in spite of my best intentions. (I covered this in a blog at the time called “Last One Out, First One Back” and will probably re-publish it in honour of all those who ran the London Marathon today for The Cure Parkinson's Trust (CPT)).
No, what I am talking about is the chocolate variety formerly known as Snikers – the variety that is complete with peanuts and all sorts of other fattening unhealthy things. Hmmm, yummy, yummy, yummy! Marathon's have often staved off an impending attack of the Munchies when I'm out and about, and have forgotten to take something more sensible with me like an Apple and a Banana.
However, whilst I am confined to being a mere spectator, I do appreciate the pain that thousands upon thousands put themselves through to raise money for the hundreds of charitable causes that are out there by running Marathon's which seem to have become part of the British culture. But of worthy note are friends who volunteer to run to raise funds for CPT. Last summer my good friend and fellow school Mum, Karen Carey, ran the Bristol half accompanied by her coach, who also happens to be her husband, Steve Carey. Karen raised a really amazing sum of money for CPT. But at the time I was really worried about her, as a few days before the race Karen came down with a really nasty cold and nearly had to pull out – when I spoke to her on the phone before the race, she could barely talk. But, the famous bulldog spirit that we British seem to be endowed with took hold, and Karen being Karen was determined to do it in spite of feeling absolutely c***!
And here is where a trend seems to be emerging. This year, my old school friend Jo Batting was running in the Marathon to end all Marathon's – the London. I didn't ask her to – I swear! Jo took it upon herself to do this madcap thing, and the first I knew of it was an e-mail from her informing me that she had entered the lottery for a place, and had been successful. Jo had never run a Marathon in her life before, and took on this self-imposed challenge with the spirit of determination which can only be likened to the war-time spirit when our major cities were being bombed night after night by the Luftwaffe in the 2nd World War.
And here, again, there seems to be a trend emerging – like Karen last year, this was this Jo's first ever Marathon, and like Karen last year Jo also ran it with the mother of all colds. Unknown to me, Jo spent Friday and Saturday in bed trying to sleep the cold off, and being hardly able to speak, really didn't know whether she would be able to take part until a few hours before she and her running partner, Robin Waterhouse, were due to set out from home. But, the old Bulldog spirit had got its teeth in to Jo, and she decided to go ahead in what was to be her first, and last, Marathon. It seems that the hours of pounding the country lanes over the last few months where she lives in rural Cambridgeshire have taken their toll on her bones, and Jo is having to hang up her running shoes on medical grounds.
Had I known that Jo was somewhat unwell before she had completed the entire 26 miles, I think I would have tried to persuade her not to run, regardless of this being her first and last Marathon. Maybe that was why Jo didn't let me know? Jo and her running mate Robin went ahead, and they crossed the finish line together in sub-5 hours – 4 hours, 44 minutes and 6 seconds to be absolutely precise. Jo, it transpired, was absolutely determined to finish in under 5 hours as she had wrangled promises out of various friends for extra sponsorship money if she achieved this – way to go Jo! Currently the totaliser is standing at 70% of her target of £2,500 and the money that has been raised will go towards the next phase of trials for GDNF. (If you require further information about this, please go to www.cureparkinsons.org.uk.)
Besides owing Jo a huge debt of gratitude for the rest of my days, I would also like to say a huge thank you to Jo's running partner, Robin Waterhouse, for coaching Jo through the winter, for his moral support, and for keeping Jo company as they joined the many thousands taking part in the 2011 London. An equally huge thank you to Jo's husband, Mark, and their children, Simon and Sarah and their many friends, for the support they have given to Jo today and in the lead up to this.
When I spoke to Jo this evening, she was already home. By the sounds of it her running shoes almost had to be surgically removed from her feet as she is now also the proud owner of some rather fetching blood blisters, as well still not feeling too brilliant from her cold. She was in good spirits though, in spite of feeling absolutely cream crackered from running 26 miles on what turned out to be a rather warm day and I don't think Jo was going to leave it too long before retiring to bed via a relaxing bath. She did say that she would probably be asleep before her head hit the pillow!
Jo and I have known each other for many many years, having gone through Prep school and Senior school together in the 1970's (yikes, was it that long ago?) Since leaving school Jo and I have kept in touch, but living in different necks of the wood, so to speak, it is rare that we manage to get together. That said, we are both hoping to go to the Leweston 30 year reunion taking place in Sherborne next month.
Fantastic Jo, I'm really proud of you........
Now, where did I leave that Marathon? Ah yes, in the fridge......
[PS - Having turned on the TV earlier today to see if I could spot Jo and Robin, or any of the Wobbly Runners for that matter in amongst the many thousands, I was somewhat surprised to see my PD Support Nurse, James, being interviewed. James was raising money for AquaAid, in a rather fetching costume I must say. No doubt he will be bearing the brunt of a few dead pan jokes over the course of the next few days and weeks. Anyway, a well done to James and I'm sure he is feeling rather “flushed” with success! (Sorry, really couldn't resist!)]