A few months back I was approached by the charity ‘Challenge Cancer Through Adventure’ to see whether I would be their patron. I was a little taken aback. Patron’s are normally public figures and I don’t really consider myself as one. Challenge Cancer supports people diagnosed with cancer or a life threatening illness living in the Peak District or the surrounding region to undertake an adventure. They regularly attend Cliffhanger and ShAFF and use the events as a way of promoting their cause. I was delighted to accept their request and recently had my first public engagement.
The Derwent Dambuster is their principle fundraiser of the year. It’s a 10 mile road race around the Derwent reservoir and took place last Saturday. I’ve been doing a reasonable amount of running recently and, when asked if I would come along to present the prizes alongside fellow patron Rab Carrington, I decided that I ought to pull my finger out and run the thing. It was my first road race ever, and aside from taking part in the village fell race each year, my first competitive race since being a teenager. I found myself on the starting line, along with some 200-250 others, some of whom were walking, but the majority of whom were running, and set off with the leaders up the initial hill. I’ve been doing a fair amount of fell running so the initial hill didn’t seem too bad and I was up there with the leaders after the first mile. A guy running next to me looked at his watch and said ‘right on schedule’. I asked him what his schedule was and he said he wanted to run the first 7 miles at 7minute-mile pace and then see what he had left in him. I decided to try to stick with him. Rather surprisingly I kept up the pace and finished, having run exactly 7 minute-miles for the whole race, in 8th place. I couldn’t believe it!
I’ve spent most of the last couple of decades climbing and experiencing the highs that come with climbing a new / hard / long route or problem, but this rivalled any of those highs. I was literally buzzing for the rest of the day. So much so that I’m off to run a fell race tonight in Matlock.
Suffice to say that next year I will be running the race again – as a veteran for the first time! – and will be raising money for the charity (who raised around £3,000 through the race).