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H is for ...

Hello? Hope? Here again? Health? Help? Decent Human? You choose ...

At Brathay we know everyone has the capacity to do extraordinary things that can inspire and benefit others. This drives our mission to improve the life chances of children, young people and families by inspiring them to engage positively in their communities.

When I'm completed the Brathay 10 in 10 in 2019, I felt I'd nothing to prove to myself. Throughout the event there was a glimpse, albeit for 10 days of the man I almost was, happy, relaxed, fulfilled and I felt I had focus in my life, I knew and understood what mattered. The last 12 months like tens of thousands of other individuals I've struggled but regardless of my situation when the opportunity to apply for Brathay's 10in10 for 2021 came round there was no hesitation. The need to do something, anything to try to help others that were, indeed are in a more precarious situation than me was too great. Brathay as I understand it is not a charity that deals in handouts but gets to the nitty gritty, they work hard with those they help to inspire the individual to make a positive change. The spark for change, the 'audacity to hope for better' comes from the individual. Because, that person desires change surely that's a better and more lasting outcome for all? The entry this year was all about trying to do more for Brathay. Afterall, I believe that just being here has helped me. Lots of previous finishers of the event comment on the Brathay Bubble, even refer to the place as their spiritual home, maybe it's situated on some mystical lay lines, all I feel is that when I'm here, I'm at ease.

So without further adieu, I'm back for another attempt and that's exactly all it is at the 10 in 10, an event I've managed successfully twice before. I say attempt because I can honestly say my training has been nothing less than sporadic, uninspiring, poor, inconsistent and I've left myself with a mountain to climb to aim for the finish line on day 10. The furthest I've ran since November 2019 is 20 miles just a month ago. I can't believe I've got the neck to think I could actually do this. But, I had to make a decision a few weeks ago that if I get to the start line injury free on Day 1, maybe fortune will favour the brave (or daft), I can hope that my body will hold together for a few days, it's not a lot to ask for is it?

'Let your feet drop,' was just one of the bits of advice from the great 'Iron' Joss Naylor. He speaks with passion about Brathay every time I meet him and has been the patron for the event since it's inception in 2007. He also thanked all of the 14 runners for their contributions to help the charity support young people who through no fault of their own now, with Brathay's help have the chance to become 'decent human beings.' This phrase when he said it struck a chord within me and reverberated throughout my run. In the past, week I've had serious second thoughts about turning up, struggling with the lack of training, leaving my children for the next ten days, missing income from self employment but then the 'thought termites' from my ex ringing in my ears telling me in no uncertain terms that I am 'selfish, disgraceful, self important, insulting and arrogant.' Everything that I know I once was but, now hope I'm not. I've worked hard to change from the idiot I know I once was; I've remained sober for over 5 years, I've remained honest and dedicated to being an authentic version of me. I still make mistakes; after the year we've had with the pandemic I know my finances have taken a battering and I've done very little to help myself but even doing one marathon today has shown me that by keeping going, I can and will work myself out of the situation I find myself in, this too will pass, I've every reason to hope for better, for me, for my children.

Whatever situation I find myself in I also remind myself that people have lost loved ones over the last year, wives, mothers, aunties, sisters. My little attempt to do something for a stranger I'll perhaps never meet, surely makes me better than I was doesn't it? When do I qualify as a decent human being?

So, on Day 1 of the Brathay 10 in 10 I roll into the start line with a desire to just get through Day One, be sensible, walk the ups and downs, arrive back at the Hall in 26.2 miles niggle free, give myself a chance to start Day Two. It's a slightly different atmosphere to previous years, slightly more nervous, perhaps because of expectations, personal experiences, perhaps because someone who should have been here was denied the chance through tragic loss? We're here now. 14th May 2021, just nine more days to go after this one. A day at a time, a marathon at a time, a mile at a time, I need to remember the three rules my son and I agreed on (never give up, try your best and simply enjoy whatever you do), each day I've go to keep going and never stop pushing.

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