The January training weekend forms a key component of the Brathay 10in10 experience. The opportunity to meet the other sixteen runners fortunate (and crazy) enough to have been selected for Team 2017. Introducing ourselves to the amazing support team who will look after us and tend to our broken minds and bodies. Sharing stories of running, training plans, fundraising successes and failures. Understanding the stresses and strains we are going to put ourselves under, and how to prepare in the right way (you can’t find many 10in10 training plans on the internet). Learning more about Brathay Trust and meeting some of those who are directly impacted by its work with vulnerable young people, their families and communities. And yes, the opportunity to run the hilly and undulating course around Lake Windermere in the stunning Lake District.
But it’s not the start of my 10in10 journey. As I drove up the steep drive at Brathay Hall (which marks the rather challenging final 400 metres of the marathon course) on a cold January Friday afternoon, I realised that I had already been on this journey for some time. It was May 2015 when I first found myself at Brathay Hall, running the Windermere Marathon and supporting a teammate as they completed the 10in10 themselves (and who is back for a repeat effort this year). I saw at first hand the amazing sense of achievement and camaraderie that the 10in10ers had and I knew it was something I wanted to experience for myself. A year later I was back, watching the 10in10ers finish again, and within a few weeks had submitted my application. A few weeks later I received the phone call that would change my life.
Since then I have begun to tell my 10in10 story, to anyone who will listen; explaining what it is I am doing and why, and about the crucial and inspiring work of Brathay Trust. I’ve planned and begun my training, which will see me run more miles than I have before and take me to the delights of Rotterdam, the Leeds/Liverpool canal and Gravesend. I’ve started my fundraising; hosting a Hog Roast and Quiz Night, running a Timmyslam sweepstake and learning to play Jingle Bells as a duet with a ten-year-old. And I’ve been stocking up on trainers.
At the start of the journey I was certainly more nervous about the fundraising than I was the prospect of running 262 miles over 10 days. However, the response so far has been amazing, both in terms of donations and kind words and encouragement. But there is still a long way to go, and I will need all the support I can get before I climb (or crawl) that drive for the last time on 21st May.
Because in the end, that’s what this challenge is all about. I’m not doing it for me. I’m doing it for the thousands of young people who Brathay work with every year, helping them to make positive choices that will change their lives. Young people like Adam, who inspired us all with his story and the positive impact that Brathay’s Aspiring Leaders Programme has had on his life and his outlook for the future. It was the highlight of the weekend. It was why we were there.
On the Saturday morning we went for a run. Unfortunately, road closures meant we weren’t able to run the full marathon route (an anti-clockwise circuit of Lake Windermere) so instead it was an out-and-back effort along the west side of the lake. A beautifully clear and bright morning showed-off the stunning countryside, and although I ended up running 26 miles on my own, this probably wasn’t a bad thing as it’s likely to be a feature of much of the 10 days. But it was hilly…very hilly, and I did struggle a bit over the last 10 miles. So, plenty of hills and strength work to fit into that training plan between now and May.
It was a fantastic weekend. I met some incredible people and was inspired by why they are running (or supporting) this 10in10 challenge. I experienced the beginning of friendships that will be forged in the ‘Brathay Bubble’ in May and will go on to last a lifetime. I learnt plenty that will prepare me for the challenge ahead, including “less running and more stretching/conditioning…not that runners take any notice” and “forget the running, it’s a 10-day eating and drinking contest”.
I learnt that I have an awful lot to do over the next 113 days. And that at time’s it’s going to hurt…a lot. But I know I will get there, and it will most definitely be worth it. So, whatever challenges you have set yourselves this year, approach them with the certainty that you will achieve them, and that you are surrounded by those who will help you along the way.
Set those goals, make those plans, lace-up those trainers…and I’ll see you at the start.