Saturday 2 November 2002

Consett to Sunderland Marina

This was the most challenging day yet. I had 5 hours in which to reach the finish line. The press were to be at the Hospice at 1pm so I had to run a decent time in order to get my photo taken. I had to run at a pace slightly quicker than last year's New York Marathon if I was to finish in time.

It was a nice and easy first 15 miles downhill into Washington. I had asked Katy to meet me in Washington as I would do the first 15 miles unassisted. This was a key factor in getting me to the finish line on time. I had a quick sandwich at Washington Wildfowl Park before embarking on the remaining 9 miles.

The weather wasn't great but that still didn't stop me putting in a decent time. The 9 miles to Sunderland Marina felt like 19 miles though. The long winding cycle path along the River Wear seemed agonisingly long and winding!

At last though, as I passed Sunderland Glass Centre I had the Marina in my sights. And there was Katy waiting for me. I made it to the coast line at 3 minutes to 1. After getting my photo taken I quickly jumped into the car and we drove to St Benedict's Hospice. I got out just before we arrived and ran into the Hospice grounds where a small crowd awaited.

It was so nice to receive the applause of the crowd. Aunty Joyce presented me with a small home made medal and Katy received 3 sets of flowers. 1 from me, 1 from Aunty Joyce and 1 from the Hospice. The Sunderland Echo were on hand for photographs.

Anne Oliver and a couple of Hospice volunteer staff had organised a buffet and cups of tea for everyone. Just what you need after running the width of the country! I also received St Benedict's equivalent of a Blue Peter Badge which will sit proudly in my trophy cabinet.

After I had freshened up most of us went to a local pub for a pint or 6. I think I lasted until about 7.30 and as usual Dan and Amanda outlasted everyone else. Thanks must go to Dave Cook for a double Jack Daniels which ensured I had a bit of a sore head the following morning.

I got a couple of nice surprises in the pub. My sister in law and her husband upped their sponsor money to £1 per mile. Yes £140. Dave and El Cook wrote the Hospice a nice big cheque for £50 as did Alan and Elaine Coleman. And an old work mate, Joe Docherty, popped in and dropped some cash off. I hadn't seen Joe for some time and he obviously knew where I planned to be by reading my website. All in all an extra £200 was added to the fund. The fund stood at £1632.80 as I downed my 7th(ish) pint of the afternoon. I'll drink to that!

Friday 1 November 2002

Allenheads to Consett

I knew I had to make up for the shorter miles during the last 2 days and really went for a big run today.

At last a bit of dignity though, as I was able to use public toilets in Allenheads and not a field or a derelict house. Bliss!

I took an off road alternative following a footpath which should have been signed as a "Public Footswamp". Not only that but I got a bit lost and ended up having to climb over a barb wire fence. I nearly did myself an injustice but managed to continue on the official route.

By the time I ran through Rookhope the weather was turning nasty. Freezing fog and rain made for a very depressing run indeed.

It was an easy first 6 miles downhill into Rookhope. Then a climb up and over the moors at Stanhope Common into Stanhope made things a little more difficult.

Now for the most depressing part of the whole run; Waskerley. Now do I not like Waskerley. Waskerley Park, Way, Reservoir or anything else Waskerley.

At the 100 mile point in Waskerley I could only see about 10 meters in front or behind. Now what should spring to mind. A scene from an "American Werewolf in London". I had strayed from the main road onto Waskerley Way and kept looking around as far as I could in the fog for anything lurking in the bushes. Not the high point of my life I must admit.

The next 10 miles into Consett seemed to take ages. I was cold and tired but at least I had got out of a trip to Safeway as I had told Katy to go ahead and do the shopping and I would meet her at the 110 mile point.