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  • Duncan Evans

New Boy at School



Friday, 12th January 2018, not a stand out day for anyone (unless you have a birthday, in which case congratulations and best wishes, especially if I’ve forgotten to say it to you), nor did I think for one minute it was a special day when I woke up. By 3pm though a different feeling was apparent. The feeling harked back to my first day at senior school aged 11 years and six months young.

At Overseal Primary School I felt like I had never really achieved anything. I had desperately wanted to represent the school at the local schools sports day at Eureka Park and in my final year and thus final attempt to achieve this ambition ended up breaking my collar bone. Failing to qualify through the running events, sack races, egg and spoon or the like, the last chance was the high jump (if you know how tall I am you’ll appreciate the irony here), the bar was set at 1 metre high. First jump, failure. Second jump, failure. Third leap and a hurdled clearance of both the bar and the landing mat. Comfortably crashing on my shoulder on the rock hard ground, apparently the break was audible. Subsequently ordered by the inimitable Mr Sutton to partake of the nasal pleasures of waiting in the boys toilets until my Mum arrived to take me to hospital, where of course all they can do is confirm the break and prescribe bed rest. In the meantime, I hasten to add the very memorable story, which my parents (in particular Mum) loves to recite. In childhood agony, bumping about in the back of an old banger (no seat belts on, after all it was the early 80s) with my seven year old sister leaning over me, asking me whether it hurts and why was I crying and did I know that she knew people that had died from such an injury (which she had much pleasure in repeating several times), I took my ‘revenge’ several years later by splitting her head open, teaching her how to play catch with a wooden clog. Unfortunately, Emma has always had better of one-upmanship (or sibling rivalry if you like) as she was able to explain to me very succinctly when I was being rushed to hospital with acute appendicitis a year or two later, the same – very real – claim that people had died from such a condition, but this time, if that was the case could she move into my bedroom?

Back to 12th January, this year. This was the first day to meet all the other 10 in 10-ers, all the other ‘athletes’, those, that when comparing my running achievements against theirs, had achieved so much, whilst I had achieved so little. The fledgling at’ big school’. That’s how it felt, in fairness it is still how it feels.

I remember my first day at William Allitt secondary school.



Lying my clothes out the night before (all a little too big, of course, so that I can grow into them, thanks Mum), getting ready and at the school bus stop at 8 o’ clock (perhaps the only day in my life that I’ve ever been significantly early for anything) but equally being so nervous that I went down to wait at my friend’s house, Andrew Grice, so that I didn’t have to be alone at the bus stop. When Mrs Glossop (our form teacher of 1FG) called out our names, I was still so terrified that I answered to my first name, Duncan. And, still to this day the reason why my parents and life long friends (Debs and Kim) call me Jason but everyone else knows me by the first given. Butterflies in my stomach, daring not to saying anything for risk of upsetting anyone or becoming involved in confrontation, not saying anything for fear of confirming anyone’s suspicions that I might be a little daft, countered against the desire of wanting to stand out but not wanting to bring attention to myself. And so too, this was exactly how I felt on Friday, 12th January. However, I was there. I hadn’t done as much training as I wanted to, we have raised significant funds though (thank you), I was accepted for the 10 in 10 on the basis of my application, so I had every right to be there just as much as anyone else (I keep telling myself). Did I make a fool of myself? Perhaps. Did I give a good account of myself? I don’t care too much, everyone can choose to think what they wish. At present I’m beginning to understand and appreciate more of myself, thank you.

During the evening get together when we were introduced to one another (by the way, Trudi Dewar amazing feat to remember everyone’s name like that), each was asked why had they applied and why were they doing the Ten in Ten. My answer, was, as I tried to explain, perhaps unclearly, to demonstrate change. I want to be an example that you don’t have to be defined by the things you are perhaps not proud of. I want to show to young and old alike that there is a choice in life. Despite all of my misdemeanours, mistakes, insecurities, hang-ups or others opinions, I can say that I am changing, not hugely, I’m not as amazing as some of the people that inspire me, but I have chosen to do this. Hopefully, what I do now and am doing will continue to help me, to help my children and I hope in some way will help others choose a different path.

My choice is to get on the start line on 11th May. My choice is to train more than adequately. Equally after this weekend, I now have to choose whether to follow the advice from the benevolent experience of all of the people who gave up their time for this weekend to inspire and encourage, nay demand we look after ourselves. I left this weekend, on 14th still not necessarily feeling I belonged, and very much in awe of some of the utterly amazing people in the room, real achievers. However, the genuine outcome from this weekend (even if my current feeling of euphoria only lasts 72 hours) was that the tiny thing I aim to do in May will benefit those vulnerable young people who might not yet have found their voice, nor have the ability to choose, or perhaps are too scared of the risk of change. Your money will help initiate this change.

A quick aside; for the record, if you don’t think change is possible, today I’ve been sober for two years. If nothing else on the basis of that and that alone my life has changed for the better.



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