After 26 hours of running, after 170,000 steps, after countless periods of darkness and light, this is the moment I turned the final corner to complete something for much of my life I would have thought utterly impossible, finishing the Centurion Running Thames Path 100 Mile ultra.
The very idea that someone, anyone, let alone me, could run 100 miles in one go would have seemed completely ridiculous just a few years ago. About 8 years ago I ran a 10km race and I thought anyone who had the stamina to go on and run a half marathon was unbelievable. Then I ran a half marathon and I considered anyone brave enough to run double that, and complete a full marathon, to be a total hero. Next I finished a 31 mile ultra and I looked at people who ran 100kms with disbelief. Eventually I did the 100km and I still couldn’t fathom how anyone could run almost twice as far in one hit. What kind of super human could take on 100 miles?
The truth is each milestone has its own heroes. Whether you’ve run your first 5km or your first 100 miles you’ve had to dig deep to find something in yourself to reach that finish line. Dedication, commitment, discipline, stubbornness, self belief, blind faith, these are the things you need whenever you’re reaching for a new goal. And if I’ve learnt one thing from all this it’s that every goal is equal. One person’s molehill is another person’s mountain.
Two days ago I climbed another of my mountains and I got to finish it in front of my family. My nephew Darcy ran across the finish line of my first 100km and here he was again for my 100 mile baptism and my first ultra running belt buckle. This time we were joined by my 2-year-old son (who as you can see was more interested in hunting down some blueberries than our moment of glory but some people are hard to impress).
I’ve learnt one thing from all this. It’s that every goal is equal. One person’s molehill is another person’s mountain.
Finally, I had all the important women in my life by my side. My wife, my sister, my mum, my niece, without whom I would never have achieved any of the distances I’ve conquered so far and definitely not this 100 mile race. They were there at the darkest moments to keep me going and their self-sacrifice and support is what helped me through.
So what’s the most important thing I think I’ve learnt from all of this? Simple. Anything can look impossible but if you don’t try you’ll never know what you’re capable of.