2017 (my 5th) was always going to be my greatest running year to date. I had already booked Comrades, my life A-race as I couldn’t get into the Berlin Wall 100 Miler and planned to prep with a marathon a month. Well, I say “planned” but it was more organic than that. I chose a few marathons to start the year – Cakeathon, Portland Coastal, Barcelona, Brighton, MK but then it started to snowball. I am terrible when it comes to peer pressure and during the week it opened I signed up for Yorkshire. My inaugural Dorchester marathon run was swapped for Bovington, Ultraks came from nowhere to give me chance to race in Zermatt, Lucerne was reintroduced, the girls got me to sign up for Bowieathon and then… we had the unicorn fun of Bacchus to come.
A couple of weeks after Cakeathon, back on the dreadmill and having completed the most miles in a month since RTTS, this week started with a bit of a demonstration at the ridiculous cost of the Hackney Half (£58!) and my new hashtag.
This was banded about quite a bit, and a lot (akin to the size of a Trump inauguration) of people agreed that this price hike was totally unacceptable.
Virgin Sports had taken the race over and upped the price to above the ceiling most sane people would pay. I caused a bit of noise, as did Alix Carpenter, Carl and others. They came back with that they are going to offer 250 free places to the local community, without saying how they would be distributed, and listed what made the price so high. The list included VAT (snort!), a free fitness bootcamp (haha!), how can it be free and yet you include it in the price?, yoga (WTF?), a festival (who wants that?), admin fees!, as well as the tee and medal. Insanity. It was then that the Royal Parks came up with the same price. But hey! They have to close the streets in the centre of the city, NOT HACKNEY! It pissed people off so much that I ended up being interviewed on camera by journalism students from City University in the grounds of St Dunsten in the East.
The London marathon ballot pissed me off as it always does, especially when my supposed clever ruse of signing my brother and me up backfired with just him getting in and not me and so I had it with the race. A few people I know, well a lot of people I know, got GFA places, charity places or in the ballot but still no dice for yours truly so I focused on other things. I looking into Guinness World records and signed up to attempt two this year – one at Brighton and one at MK (as you do).
LOAVES AND FISHES
Ambassadorship divides the masses. Those that get free kit love it. Those that don’t bitch about those that do. It is the nature of things. I try to give as much back as possible.
I was a brand ambassador for Balega socks, as you know, and I ran contests to give them away. Brooks asked me to review shoes for freebies, I gave those away, RunnersNeed did the same, I gave those away, Salomon as well with the Speedcross, gone to the masses. But over the last week Asics adverstised for their Front Runner program for free kit, and Reebok asked for runners to get free kit and a place at VLM, Fuel100 wanted a local star to push their salty wares too. Of course I applied to all three, and of course I shared them with the good people too. Of course, as the days progressed it became clear that I did not make the cut. But others did and I was very happy for them, albeit a little jealous and disappointed that it was just not my year to run my home town marathon. And then today happened.
#VLM2017 is a go
Back in 2014 I ran 20 races in 6 months for Pancreatic Cancer UK. It was one of the best things I have ever done and have a good relationship with the charity. When one of their runners dropped out last minute from the Royal Parks I stepped up. When they had places for Berlin, I raised for them then and raced my first marathon in the purple vest of the charity.
I did not know that it was the deadline for London marathon entry but was toying with the idea of running some of my races to raise funds this year so pinged Panc Can an email. It was simple, I said if they needed anyone for any race to step in if a runner was injured, or dropped out for any other reason, that I would be their man. Within no time I got an email. And no sooner had I replied I got a phone call. One of their runners for London had dropped out, they couldn’t find anyone who could train for it in the 11 weeks til the race and, given I would have run 5 marathons this year by then I would be in good condition to run it. It was 11th hour stuff. I needed to pay registration and register with London before 5pm and set up a justgiving page, and raise 2 grand by the end of the year. It all happened so fast I barely ate my lunch.
Am still a little in shock. The £2 large I can raise in a year easily, but I am running my second major in three years, now have 10 marathons and 3 ultras this year and… hold on… I am running LONDON! It does need to sink in. I never thought I would ever run it. Ever. But now I am. My brother is running it because of me, others are too, and now I am. The stars are in alignment for sure.