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16 May 2018

This Saturday (19th May) our Head of Development Gareth Price is attempting to run 50 miles for the first time to raise funds for London Youth. Here he tells the story of his effort to get to this point.

They say the journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. But they leave you to figure out the remaining two million or so steps by yourself.

After running a second marathon last year I wanted to take part in a longer race and a different sort of experience. On the evening of 22nd November last year I found a 50 mile race online, signed myself up and set off for a run. My 1000 mile training journey had begun. It ended 23 weeks later alongside Lake Wood Nature Reserve as I ran home into Uckfield. Between those two landmarks running became second nature.  On the day I got to the 1000 mile mark, there was a moment which I can only describe as an out of body experience. I was conscious I was moving. My arms and legs were working away. The ground flowed rhythmically under my feet. But it all seemed to be happening outside my conscious will. My body was set to cruise control and moving along by itself. For a time running up the hill into Piltdown everything felt utterly effortless as I watched seemingly from afar…

It hasn’t always been like that. I’ve run with knee pain, calf pain, thigh pain, a hurty back and a persistently niggly Achilles. All of us who trained outdoors in this worse than most winter of 17-18 have done it in the dark, the cold, wind and driving rain and quite a lot of snow as well. One 22 miler early on felt like extremely hard work and I very nearly gave up.

And then Dad passed away on the 8th of January. The day after the worse happened I was stumbling along a pavementless dual carriageway on the outskirts of Norwich, horns blaring at me in the morning rush hour, feeling completely lost – both literally and emotionally. But I completed the 5 mile run and my desire to stick at it, to carry on towards my goal, hardened within me.

A few months later after a day disposing of Dad’s belongings I ran into the North Norfolk countryside, heading off into what felt like the middle of nowhere in a cold rain. I felt resigned to getting wet and strangely self sufficient. And hour or so later after barely seeing a single soul, the clouds parted and as I looked across the big open skies to my left, the sun came bursting through, the temperature lifted about four or five degrees and steam rose from the glistening road surface. There were many days like this when the beauty of in-the-zone running felt like exploring a faraway country.

I ran up the hill to work as the sun rose and back down again as it set, I ran long every weekend and then again the next day and again the day after that. 40 miles a week became 50 and then 60. I missed my Dad but found renewed purpose.

Now there’s just a few days to go before my big day and I am as excited as a small boy waiting for Christmas. I checked out the route in the car at the weekend and the 51.3 miles feel a scarily long way. But I’m going to remember the effort and sacrifice that went into the training and give it my best possible shot…

You can find out more about the Westcountry Ultra Flat 50 mile race here and sponsor Gareth here

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