Congratulations to Nick Sutherland - he completed his first marathon in Edinburgh and followed it up with the Balmoral half the next weekend. 4:56 for the marathon and 2:02 for the half. Very few years ago Nick was that 18 stone guy who couldn't walk to the bus stop.
Discovering running has changed his life and there's more to come. A programme of all round body fitness to complement his running will see him get stronger and reduce his times - of that I have no doubt. And for all of those of you who think you can't do it - you can! I'm sure Nick won't mind me telling you on here that he is 60 - truly inspirational.
I'm having to convince myself to keep going at the moment. With over a year to go until the Final Challenge it's tempting just to tick over rather than seek to improve. But I know that the sort of strength and fitness I will need cannot be gained in 3 months. Step changes in physique, strength and stamina are possible but they do take a year to effect. So you have to stick with it. And it's hard to measure because for me it's not about running faster - it's about durability, it's about having your body able to soak up continued punishment without breaking down. And you can't really test that - at least not often. So you have to judge it by feel to some extent.
Which brings me on to yesterday's excursion - the Baslow Boot Bash. There's a small, relatively unknown coterie of people out there who with no fanfares no medals no fancy kit go out on a weekend and do challenge events. These are often organised by the Long Distance Walkers Association and involve marathon distance (or more depending on your navigational ability!) routes with grid referenced check points to hit. So map and compass in hand we set off from Chatsworth for a 26 plus mile trip round the White Peak District.
Hilly to put it mildly, and this year very wet, muddy, at times windy and cold even though it's mid June. I got lost once and had to back track, but otherwise, given the conditions, things went well and I finished in 5:42. 3 minutes slower than last year - but actually I felt much better in the latter stages and well enough to go for a run this morning.
These things are harder than marathons - although you're not able to push all the way so they are a different kind of effort.
For the uninitiated here's what it's like!! I think you'll enjoy this: