Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Return Home - The Last Chapter

10 November 2011

"Dear All,

In the past week there has been the passage back and return to Guernsey, the first day back in the office, the Welcome Home party, dinner with the golfers, Channel TV’s great resume, the last ever marathon – No 40, a return to normality and my first gymn session … so a quiet week!!

We booked out of the hotel and headed for the ferry terminal, the Volvo with a headlight out and the camper van with injector problems and a puncture.  So it wasn’t just the team that was tired and ready for home.  The slow boat out of Portsmouth is a relaxed and easy way to travel and Condor has been terrific in looking after us.  Big breakfasts were eaten, newspapers bought and read and it was a journey at a pace and with a level of activity I want to get used to .

We were met by the BBC TV and Guernsey Press newspaper journalists, along with Mike Marshall and Julie-Anne Headington when we came off the boat. Staggered to find that we made the lead article on the front of the Press and there was more about us inside as well.  Julie-Anne presented me with a pair of slippers as she had promised, and once we got the interviews out of the way, we headed for home.

On arriving back in St Peters, there was a banner welcoming us back attached to the front of the house, with a chicken casserole and chocolate cake on the doorstep from our lovely friends and neighbours Nick and Helen.  Happily they were able to join us for supper so we cracked open another bottle of champagne and had an excellent evening in good company… even the cat seemed happy to see me after 7 weeks away.

On Tuesday I headed for the office at the usual time and opened up around 8 am.  The old habits were quickly resurrected and by 8.05 I was heading down the road to the corner shop for the paper and the Victor Hugo boulangerie for my morning coffee and croissant.  Not the quiet precursor to the day that it usually is … lots of queries about the adventure and many congratulations all of which was much appreciated.

It was quickly back to reality on returning to the office.  I received news of a friend’s serious illness and that reinforced how fortunate I feel to have been able to do this challenge with no obvious serious damage.  Currently I am about 12 stone and feeling as fit as a butcher’s dog.  I do realise however that I need to put on a few pounds.

Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday was a busy time working with Alex and Natalie on the Welcome Home party on Wednesday evening.  Ian Robertson, the well-known BBC rugby commentator and Wooden Spoon supporter replaced John Inverdale who had pneumonia.  Also Ian Irving another Wooden Spoon stalwart came over to give us 40 minutes of stand-up comedy.  Rosie Swale-Pope came over too.  Ian Robertson was ‘in conversation’ with Rosie and me for 30 minutes.  Also attending was the Lieutenant Governor and his wife Lynda, the Bailiff and Lady Rowland, and Bill Hill, the CEO of Wooden Spoon. With the exception of Heather (my 2 marathon companion) all of the team from Guernsey were there and Sue Dale made it over from Jersey.  There were big screens showing photos and footage of the run and the general consensus was that it was an excellent evening making about £5k for the charity. 

Much to my surprise Chris Griffiths and the Guernsey Event Co team produced a fantastic little booklet of the daily “blog”.  These were available at every place setting and we collected up those left over at the end of the evening and  we have been selling them off for £5 apiece for the charity!

On Thursday Sally and I went to a dinner for about 20 organised by and made up loosely of my Saturday morning golf pals and partners.  They had been unable to attend the dinner the previous evening due to a golf club commitment.  It was boisterous, noisy and great fun and I look forward to rejoining them on the golf course a week on Saturday after nearly a year’s absence because of the training. 

On Friday the footage of the final marathon filmed by Channel TV was aired on the evening news.  It was edited down to 9 minutes and captured the feel of the challenge really well.  If we can find a link we will advise you of it.  I took it easy on Friday evening since my final marathon was the following morning and I had not done any exercise for a week.  Sally and I did go out to a wedding dance and that took minds off the prospect of the following day’s endeavours.

Saturday was just like old times!  Awake early with nervous anticipation.  Porridge, honey and coconut milk for breakfast around 7am and off the KGV playing fields to meet Doc who spent another half hour taping my feet … nothing changes!

The format for this fund raiser was that I was to run the whole marathon distance while one of the local rugby clubs organised for teams to join me.  Each team was required to run only one mile and they had to raise funds to participate.  Currently it looks as though they will have raised something between £10k and £15k which is a fantastic effort.  The money will be split between St Jacques Rugby Club and the Guernsey cancer charity Hope for Guernsey.

As for the run itself, I tried to maintain a pace of approximately 12 minutes per mile.  The route took us down to the west coast at Cobo and we ran south to Perelle, turned around and headed north along the main coast road as far as Vale Castle where we turned around and ran back to Cobo and then up the long hill to Sausmarez Park and along back to the KGV.  The organisers tell me that it was 26.2 miles however, my Garmin was telling me that it was closer to 27.5!  I crossed the try line (check the link and you will understand) in 5hr 24min … marathon time of approx 5hr 10min … and I was pleased with that.

Along the way we had teams of rugby players in kit, rugby players dressed as grannies, we had a couple of nuns and a couple of penguins too.  Guthrie Steer joined us for a mile as did Heather Reid and her team from the Medical Specialist Group.  In fact Heather joined me twice.  She did a few miles at the start, then went for a cycle ride (she heads off to Cambodia on a charity cycle tour next week) then she re-joined me for the last 5 miles… plucky or what? 

This was the only marathon in the 40 in which I ran the whole thing and I did find it hard.  Thank goodness therefore that the organisers had arranged to have squads from the youth section of the rugby club joining me with about 8 miles to go because that injected a bit of life into the old legs.  Over the last mile I was joined by the minis and their bubbling enthusiasm spurred me on to the end.  As we entered KGV I felt a bit like the Pied Piper of Hamlyn with the kids, the penguins and the grannies all running behind. There is a Channel TV report of this at: 

There were further interviews, kind words and great support.  I was given a chance to say publicly how much I appreciated the great team effort that got me over the finishing line that day and every day previously on the run through the UK.

After that we retired to the bar for a well deserved noggin and Sally and I headed for home and an early supper, with the intention of coming back to their Bonfire Party but aching muscles later prevented this!  Maybe there is some credence to the benefits of the cold bath!

With all physical commitments now out of the way, it was great to get back to a level of domestic normality on Sunday … long lie in, breakfast in bed, Church.

As for the cards, letters and calls of congratulation they’ve been pouring in since we got back which is very kind of folk and much appreciated.  The fund raising continues with much still to do.  Will we reach the targeted £1m? No, but there is nothing wrong at aiming for the stars.  Will we raise significant sums for a number of good causes?  Absolutely we will and when we have a better idea of how much that will be I’ll let you know.  

Future exercise?  Well tonight it was a light session in the gym and that’s all I am proposing for this week.

Next week?  Well next week we’ll see how I feel.  One thing is for sure … it won’t be a marathon or anything like it!!  If I talk of doing anything like this again, shoot me!  Didn’t Steve Redgrave say something like that? 

But I do have plans for 2012.  I will be heading off to learn more in order that in the future I might teach running technique.  I like to think that I’ve learnt a bit about running but I want to take that a bit further.  Also it is 10 years since we first held The Channel Highland Games.  They were a riotous success in 2002 and I have set the wheels in motion to have the games resurrected.  That will keep me busy.  

And that is you bang up to date.  Thanks for taking an interest in my exploits over these past 7 weeks and thanks for sharing it with so many.

Best Wishes

Finally, here is a piece from Channel TV about Dad.


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