• Duncan Evans

Brathay 10in10 – Chapter 10 – Slay the Nine-headed Lernaean Hydra

Updated: May 18, 2019


This morning, on the penultimate game of Marathon Deal or No Deal, ‘Noel’ offered me a glance inside the last box, very generous of him I thought.  An exceptionally generous offer.


I’d like to take a flash back 48 hours, cue subtitles, location and audio commentary.  Thursday, I completed a marathon with shin splints in a little over 5½ hours.  How I thought I needed to do this was to take four ibuprofen before I started running, another four around 2½ hours later and then the last four at the top of Ice-cream Mountain.  That amount of self-medication is absolutely crazy, I know it, but I felt like I needed it to get round with the least amount of discomfort possible.  So, Thursday evening when I was asked how I was getting round and getting quicker I explained.  That’s me.  Heart on my sleeve, I clearly have no emotional filter and say too much.  If you don’t like it, then you don’t have to associate with me.  Your choice.  The one thing I know about myself now is that I will not lie, not even a white one (except of course if the Tooth Fairy or Santa is involved, which of course if Santa is involved, isn’t lying anyway).  Advice delivered and received, don’t take that much medication, mix ibuprofen with paracetamol, be sensible.  So I listened but equally didn’t and made the conscious choice to take a combination of ibuprofen and paracetamol.  So on Friday’s run, I struggled, the swelling and pain didn’t dissipate.

Following the run, there was concern about my health and well-being.  Everyone has been fantastic, and very professional.  All that was asked of me was to medicate within accepted healthy guidelines.  My reaction; stroppy teenager.  Instead of accepting that people were concerned I behaved in true drama queen style; did my bottles (some bottles minus electrolytes – funnily enough essential today – Saturday – due to the heat), missed food and decided that instead of taking some medication to try to get round, I would attempt a marathon, with shin splints but without any form of pain relief.  Why cannot I just accept help and be ‘normal’?  In my state of mind last night I felt as though I was asking myself to climb Everest but the Sherpas had taken away my crampons and ropes.

Luckily, even though I’m a child, we are supported by adults here, people who know what they are doing and talking about.  Eventually they gave me the impetus to get me to the start line.  They believed in me when I had lost all faith.

Back to Noel’s Box.  As of this morning we had 24 refreshment stations to run (we’ve already run through 216 of them, and about 100 of those I’ve done with shin splints).  Inside the last Box (this is a metaphor by the way) was the phrase ‘give up, you’ve achieved more than you thought, the pain will go away and you can still be satisfied with what you’ve already done’.  I was ready to accept it, for the pain to be over, the emotional rollercoaster to cease.  It’s easy to give up, much harder to never give in.  But in this game of Marathon Deal or No Deal, we have supporters, the very same people who I thought were making it extra difficult for me to achieve my dreams 14 hours previous were the very same people that were telling me I was capable of completing not just one marathon but two more days of marathons.  Aly, Katie, Adam and Aimee, I will never be able to thank you enough but by helping to realise that some things are worth going through a little pain for you helped me believe in myself.  It took me another 3 boxes and a little over six miles for me to appreciate and understand that it is possible, and as each drink station box appeared I declined the Bankers Offer.  We now only have 12 boxes to go tomorrow.  There is no glittering prize, there will not even be a new found belief in myself (although this last ten, eleven days has taught me so much more about me that I ever thought possible), but if anything what this has taught me is that if something is worthwhile struggling for you have to do it, one step at a time and one foot in front of the other.

I promised myself that I would not or at least try not to include any clichés whilst writing tonight’s entry so I’ll try to describe a few other things on the run instead.  Getting through the first 2 miles was excruciating, it was no easier getting to 4.5 miles either.  Obviously with it being a Saturday none of the school children at Hawkshead were there to cheer us on, which always pulls at the heart strings, instead there was a placard with the children’s palm prints and each and every 10in10ers name emblazoned boldly.  After eight days of running, your emotions can be stirred by the most random acts of kindness and although it bought a tear to my eye it did nothing to alleviate the pixies and their clubs hammering away at my shins.

From Hawkshead to Newby Bridge is my favourite part of the course, Esthwaite Water is beautiful, the forest, the hills, the peace, the road ahead, even Devil’s Gallop but still I couldn’t shuffle forward with the same impetus I’d had in previous days.  The Principality of Pain I was in had decided to annexe the Sovereign State of Suffering and had blitzkrieged the Territory of Torture.  How I felt sorry for myself.  At box three Paul, Trudi and Aly were there again, telling me how well I was doing.  It didn’t feel like it.  You equally need to appreciate that a week ago my marathon times were a tad over four hours, and I was over the moon with that.  Clearly someone was telling porkies because once upon a time I’d said I’d be happy just to finish ten marathons, perhaps that wasn’t entirely correct and as ever I expected more from myself.  How selfish!  As Mark had said earlier in the week ‘we’ were the lucky, there were absent friends who would never get to achieve what we were trying and succeeding doing.  Just 48 hours previous I’d mentioned to myself that if Jane Tomlinson could run marathons, complete triathlons and Iron-man, I was damned sure I could find something to get me through this.  That talking to had worked once before, but not on Day 7 and not today.  What worked today was actions not words.  Aly said she would be there for me and she was.  Who was I going to let down?  No-one, not Aly, not Aimee, not Adam, not Chris, not Katie, not my children and not me, not ever again.  It’s taken me thirty years to appreciate that whilst I’m not perfect and I have my faults, so does every bugger else, I just have to do the best that I can, whenever I can.

As I write this I think of all the people I’ve previously let down and all the lies I’ve told and whilst it satisfied the child in me it did nothing to help me to grow.  Just like the hydra’s heads, as one betrayal occurred another two sprang to take it’s place.  The last two years I’ve tried to take responsibility for that, sometimes I get it wrong still, sometimes I throw a teenager tantrum, but if I can only put things in perspective and take a moment maybe those steps forward will take me further along that journey towards being a proud person, proud of me.

It is now late in the evening, my shins are still swollen, the ice melting quickly and not reducing any swelling but sharing a room with Mark (someone has overcome real adversity and won) and thinking about how each and every day we’ve got up, got prepared, received physio and gone out to slay a Marathon Monster, we surely, each and everyone of us face tomorrow with a huge sense of excitement.  For me, I hope a new found belief, tomorrow when I believe and expect to finish it (the end of 262 miles) might allow me to exorcise a demon or two, but if it doesn’t we’ve had some fun, some tears, some laughs and found some new friends, each one a warrior of sorts in their own right.

In the words of Stevie G, tomorrow ‘We go again!’  I hope we get to bring silverware back this time though…


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