10 marathons in 10 days

So here we are, the finale of the Brathay 10in10, and it started like any normal race day. I had a disturbed nights sleep, woke far too early and felt sick in the morning.

Everything was an hour early today, to get ready for the 9:30 kick off on the Brathay front lawn. For the last 10 months or so, I'd visualised that moment. Walking out into the throng of hundreds of spectators, supporters and running peirs. And it was everything that I imagined it to be. The 14 of us stood there for a few moments, as we were introduced and it was magical. People who know me, know that I'm not one for blowing my own trumpet, not one to make myself known in a crowd, but for that moment, yes, I'll take it, I've earnt this moment.

Once the introductions were over, the traditional huddle and rousing speech from Foxy, we made our way to the start line. I've watched the start of the 10in10 for the last 3 years, and to be on the receiving side was surreal. But soon enough we were off. Yes, the niggles and pains were there but today seemed a brighter day, and not just the calm weather forecast. As with the previous few days, my pace was very steady and controlled, walking the sharp down hill sections to preserve my taped up knee. More spectators & family at Hawkshead, another lift - things felt good.

The yellow drinks boxes were in the same places, but with no support crew today, things felt more like race conditions, a race where we'd been given an hour head start before 'the pack' were let loose. And the pack caught me at 8 miles, and the leader and race winner was flying - a man on a mission.

As more and more runners came by, almost every single one of them offered their own personal nod of respect or gracious comment. As much as I would like to have been more articulate, thankyou and cheers, seemed an appropriate response.

By Newby Bridge, there was a large gathering of supporters, not just for the 10in10, but other marathon runners, another atmospheric moment to treasure.

But during the climb to Fell Foot at 14 miles, I felt a twinge in my left hamstring. Nothing too sinister, but enough to make me want to stop & stretch out. Off I continued, running confidently up hills, and taking all necessary precautions down hill. By 16 miles, the hamstring twinge had been replaced by a rather more concerning tightening in my left quad. Again, I stopped to stretch it out, but it quickly became apparent that this wasn't going away. And despite my best efforts to release the tightness, its grip increased, until by 18 miles, I couldn't put power through my left leg. Such an agonising pain, and with only 8 miles to go I was faced with a decision. Do I try to run through the increasing pain & tightness and risk a full blown tear and non-completion or do I cut my losses and walk in. After everything that I'd gone through over the last 9 days, after 9 full marathons, after all of the pains & worries, physio, after considerable quantities of pain relief, my 10in10 fate was laid out with just 8 miles to go.

So I chose to walk. I knew that time was slipping through my fingers but with each step I knew that I was edging closer to the finish. As runners streamed passed, all were very congratulatory, how it was a wonderful achievement, and I knew that they were sincere, but I didn't feel it. I felt that I'd let the side down, my 10in10 glory was in ruins with less than a quarter distance remaining.

I said previously, I had visualised the start but I had never visualised the finish. Perhaps this is why? A the training weekend, in my interview video, I made an off the cuff comment about wanting to see how far my body could be pushed before it broke. I rue the day I made that comment. It would appear, 252 miles - which in itself is no mean feat.

And with less than a mile to go, a friend from home was out on course, sent to see where I was, and I was informed that the presentations were about to start. I knew that would happen, I've come this far and I'm going to miss the ultimate finale of this entire adventure.

After 9 days of running the drive way, I had to walk this final day, my wife & kids anxiously waiting at the top, but I had already decided that I was going to walk the runway with my head held high, well I couldn't run! I crossed the line to applause of spectators and supporters, but I was glad it was over. My fellow 10in10ers were so gracious in the congratulations, and as luck would have it, I didn't miss the 10in10 presenation, which happened pretty sharpish after my finish.

Were all stood on stage, presented to our supporters, running comarades and numerous photographers, and awarded one of the most treasured running prizes I know of, the Brathay 10in10 slate, and at that moment, I knew it had all been worth it.

The last 10 days have been like an out of body experience. I've watched this guy run 10 consecutive marathons. I've heard other runners tell him that he is an inspiration, a true hero, an immortal no less. I've seen his pain, I've seen his raw emotion and I've seen him find depths of courage, determination and sheer bloody mindedness, that I could only wish for. But hang on, take a closer look, that guy is me. I've never wanted to let myself believe it was possible. I've never gone shouting from the roof tops, lording my supremecy. I have been humbled by the whole journey, a journey that I am truly privaledged to have been part of.

The finish wasn't what I had hoped for, and I can't blame anyone particular thing for that, but what I can say, with my head held very high, is that I am now a fully fledged member of one of the country's in not the worlds most exclusive running clubs. I have completed 10 fully certified marathons over 10 consecutive days. I have put my life on hold for the last 9 months and I have put my body through such punishment over the last 10 days that I think I deserve it.

And now, we rest.