So. It started on a chair-lift in Courchevel in 2007, when I said to Rob and Hannah "Let's enter the MdS". They looked at me as though I was an idiot - it turned out I had to explain what MdS stood for (fair enough). They then continued their stares but, bless them, the three of us paid our deposits in late 2007. Neither are running with me but I'd never have entered if they hadn't. Thanks, guys.
In the intervening years, I started writing this blog, predominantly to make the running a bit more interesting and also to chronicle the last year-and-a-bit. I've run in New York, Pembrokshire, Orlando, the North Downs (twice), Farnham, Turkey, Castéra-Lectourois, Basel, Cologne, Epping Forest, Berkshire and Las Vegas - as well as (obviously) rather a lot in London. I've run dressed as a penguin in Pauillac and as a gorilla in the City. I've climbed 42 stories of tower block. I've seen riots, a woman's parts and the aftermath of one of London's larger fires - on my own street (above). I've had swine 'flu and pneumonia. I've seen monkeys and a grasshopper that my grandfather helped to make. I've applied surgical spirit to my soles and learned to tape my toes. Since this blog started, I've run 1,000 miles and burned over 120,000kcal. It's been (mostly) fun.
I have a lot of other thank yous to get through too.
- Firstly and most importantly, to family, friends and colleagues - not just for all the generous sponsorship (but thanks for that too), but also for putting up with my dull chat and constant training. In particular, Gluckers, Al, Lotte, Refik and Freya deserve special mention for various reasons, but everyone's been very understanding.
- My part-time medical team - thanks to Jonny, Refik (again), Andi, Amy and Jane for helping out with various swine 'flu/pneumonia/ankle/drug/fluid-related questions. You've been hugely patient and very helpful.
- Sophie Cox, my podiatrist, sorted me out with the orthotics I've been using for the last few years and gave my plenty of foot-taping advice (and some tape). Thanks Sophie!
- The guys at Aegis Training, particularly Greg and Zahid, have trained me for the past two years. I'm sure my introduction to free weights has helped keep my relatively injury-free. Thanks guys!
- Tom Crisp, a sports doctor, sorted out my patellar tendinopathy with a few painful injections back in 2007. They worked pretty well. I'm not cured but I'm more than functional. Thanks for injecting me with stuff, Tom!
- Alex Marek has given me a few sports massages over the last few weeks. I have been known to scream. Thanks dude, and sharpen your elbows for my return!
- Sam Murphy met me for a training session a while back and I bumped into her at the North Downs 30k a few weeks later. Anyone who has more than a passing interest in running should buy this book. It was good chatting to you Sam!
So, Marathon des Sables 2010 - in the immortal words of Delia Smith - let's be having you.