• Duncan Evans

Gambling – Stick or Twist?

A few months ago I wrote of my silly idea to contact all the bookies I’d lost money to, in the hope that they would give me some cash back to donate to Brathay.  I sent several emails, not once, not twice but thrice, I also wrote letters sent by recorded delivery.  An investment in postage but for what return?  Well, I thought I was like Andy Dufresne from Shawshank writing for books for the prison library.  Unfortunately, none of the book-makers got sick of me, caved in, and donated hundreds of ‘bucks’, except one.  Thank you Ladbrokes.  A generous cash donation of £25, I’ve not popped in to Catterick to collect those ill-gotten gains, yet.

Is it worth another letter or two, do you think?

Equally, I was hoping with childish naivety that our friendly Turf Accountants would perhaps lay some odds on the 10in10.  It’s the biggest field of competitors ever and some of my fellow compadres have completed the event before, some are very accomplished athletes and some of us (I’m referring only to self) are taking on something that is rather a long shot.  Once again the hope (you can see why I lost so much sterling to these dream racketeers) was that if they made a profit from opening a book on us all, they could donate half of their profits back to Brathay.  In the process, they might help raise the awareness of the good work of the charity, give themselves shot in the arm in terms of a better public perception of the gambling industry, but also it might create enough of a goodwill story in the area, for the Trust, for the Windermere Marathon and perhaps in turn for Asics in terms of a positive collaborative project.  Delinquent ideology but with that fanciful notion I still thought it was worth a risk of my arm on a turn of pitch-and-toss.  If only I’d not breathed a word about my loss(es).

Yesterday, I thought I’d chance my legs though.  I’ve enjoyed running these last few weeks, particularly when getting out and doing what I have committed to do.  Never have I been the one, for doing what I said I would, always looking for a shortcut (there isn’t one unless you count the Ferry across Windermere, but I’m sure someone would notice), always dreaming that fortune would drop in my lap, without the necessary hard work.  Last week I spied on social media some of the Brathay ‘Bubbles’ successfully completing a Quadzilla (four marathons in four days) and me thinking, I’ve not done that.  How am I going to do what I’ve set out to do?  Getting all a little green-eyed (I hate to admit but then I promised you honesty) as I’ve had to drop out (due to unforeseen work commitments) of the one and only event (Northumberland Ultra) I had plotted and planned to do prior to May.  I’ve now successfully swapped my entry with Adrian Brooks (who should be joining the 100 Club during the Ten in Ten), thanks for picking up the mantle by the way, have a great run, I look forward to seeing you achieve your 100 marathon milestone, what a fantastic achievement.  Does it really matter that my soon-to-be-colleagues have successfully completed event after event?   No, not in the slightest.  What matters is the preparation; the long, occasionally hard runs and efforts I lay down as foundations for May’s ‘mountain’ (I’ve been reading Dr Seuss).  If it wasn’t a challenge it would be called easy, wouldn’t it?  My brain popped with all of these thoughts simultaneously, the result was a brain fart of such magnitude, I’m sure my head moved a couple of inches to the left (yes I cerebrally excrete out of my right ear), I realised I should be pleased for these guys who continue to achieve what they set out to do, proud that I will be set to join their ranks and equally acknowledge that there is no way out of doing the training needed for what will happen in May.

About 20 years ago (give or take), when I was a stupid teenager (there you go Aurélie, I used the word towards myself), I remember quite vividly not revising for my exams.   How does someone remember, not doing something?  Well, it’s what accompanied the not doing something that makes/made me ignorant, dreamy (but not in the ‘he’s a hunk’ sense) and immature.  Apparently, so I was once told, I was a bright child, I could’ve been a contender, could’ve been a someone …could’ve been The Heavyweight Champion of the World (thank you Reverend and the Makers).  Now, the not revising for my exams is significant, as too were my prayers asking Him upstairs to fill my head full of German words so I could pass my Deutsch ‘O’ Level, even writing in my Bible for a sign that He existed.  The outcome, German grade D.  Realisation now ‘Keine abkürzungen; du bist allein’.  Thank you Google translate!

Back to yesterday and the chancing my legs bit.  My plan this week was to run two lots of 20 miles, so I parked my car at Tebay and made my way to work.  Slight change of plan as I cycled on Tuesday but ran longer than I had planned on Wednesday and then did the return 20 miles back to my car ‘à pied’.  Reflective jacket check, white Bandana check, head torch no check.  Oh well, as Meatloaf would say, two out of three ain’t bad.  Are you a bloody idiot I said to myself, when at 14 miles with no footpath in sight and facing oncoming traffic, in the cold, dark and quite elevated position in the Cumbrian hills I had to keep hopping in to ditches to avoid the returning evening commuters (who I have to say very kindly gave me a wide berth) just in case?  Each splash and splosh christening my new-ish Asics trainers in puddles filled with mud and diluted sheep urine, I was still left wondering what sort of idiot gambles with his life just to get a 20 mile run in because that’s what he said he was going to do?  Happily, I’m able to say that idiot is me.

Thought you might like to see my route?

As I was coming down the hill heading towards Tebay, I thought I could hear the cloven hoofs of herds of ungulates squelchily and softly stampeding in the dark, seeking refuge in the hills from the shiny biped demon soddenly slapping by.  Then a comedy horror thought ‘snuck’ in and I had visions of being bitten by a werewolf as if I were in an adapted and self mutilated scene from an American Werewolf in London, my mind works in mysterious ways.  Maybe I was asleep and I was just dreaming in colour?

Any who next week I’m hoping to do the run again, (stick or twist), only this time I’ll try it in daylight hours.


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