On Starting the marathon des sables not knowing
if he would even finish it, or worse :
"In April 2016 I boarded the plane en route to that year's MdS, not convinced I would finish the race but knowing that my foot would cross the bloody start line and that alone was more than I could ever have dreamt of after that day on the 6th of November, 2014. The race was all it was cracked up to be, make no mistake. Severe heat, more sand than you ever can imagine, extreme thirst, massive dunes and a camaraderie amongst the entrants like no other I have experienced before.
"In tent 105 there were 8 of us who didn't know each other and all had challenges and/or aspirations. We all struggled in some way or other but we all finished. I managed to finish 562nd out of around 1,200, so if that didn't give cancer another punch then I don't know what could.
"Since that week all the 8 of us have stayed in touch; Jeff has scaled Everest, not bad for a guy with replacement hips; Chris is running a marathon a week in 2018 for charity; Rory has run his 1,000th marathon and 14th Marathon Des Sables; and lastly, Nick is running 196 marathons, one in every country in the world and doing it for Prostate Cancer UK- because of me!
"I have always pushed myself as I feel that just doing the same, year on year, is not a challenge so in 2017 I had to do more. I also wanted to raise more money and awareness. So I decided to undertake 1,000 competitive or organised miles in that year. Why 1,000? Well, quite simply, because that is how many men we are told die, roughly every month, in the UK from Prostate Cancer. So the number has some real significance to it as far as I'm concerned.
Clocking up those 1000 competitive miles over 2017
"The events I undertook were all different. I ran a few UK ultramarathons and then set off to The Marathon Des Sables, again, and finished only this time in tent 107 with a different set of mates.. apart from Rory who was there again!
"I then joined the legend, Jeff Stelling from Sky Sports and did 15 marathons in 15 days around the UK; followed by a Spanish race called 'Al Andalus', which is 230k over five stages, one of which was during what turned out to be the hottest day on record in Grenada- 47.5c!
"Next it was off to the Fire and Ice ultra which is the same as the MdS, only this time in Iceland with nights at sub zero temperatures and finally, Rory's 1,000th marathon in Nottingham (whilst I was injured from Iceland). Throughout all these races I had to carefully balance my cancer treatment with the race and training, not always easy but a necessity. The disease and treatments are taking their toll but only insofar as it niggles but it never actually stops me.