Challenge639



A different way

On Sunday 17th April 2011 images of the London Marathon filled the television screens as tens of thousands of runners took on the marathon distance. For many this will have been the culmination of months of training and have represented a challenge of a lifetime.

For my friend Tony's two young sons Alfie and Arthur their challenge of a lifetime is dealing with the reality of Muscular Dystrophy.

They won't ever be able to enjoy the endorphin rush of athletic endeavour.

For this reason I decided to take on a range of physical endeavours to raise awareness of Alfie and Archie's condition, challenge639.com was born.

On Sunday the 17th I took part in the Coventry Way as my 2nd challenge for Alfie and Arthur. This is a 40mile circular loop around Coventry. It is a small, low key event designed for runners and walkers. It offers staggered start times, numerous aid stations and a post race meal. All for £12.

As I drove to the start I was looking forward to a long day.

It is impossible to bluff your way around 40miles. Whatever ones reasons for not training if you haven't adequately prepared for an ultra endurance event then it will hurt. No point rolling out excuses for missed sessions.

In a beautifully informal manner I set off with route book in hand to navigate my way around the 40m loop.

A whole 5 minutes into the run I felt a 'stone' in my shoe. The temptation was to ignore it and hope it moved itself to a more convenient location. Fortunately I stopped as the 'stone' was in fact a thorn that had gone all the way through the sole of my trainer. Always best to check ;)

As the early morning mist cleared the route wound its way along footpaths and bridleways. The sun was out. Life was good.

The first 14m or so passed by without further incident. It was quite simply a pleasant, pressure free run.

Not too long afterwards my legs started to remind me that they were ill prepared and my pace eased. This didn't worry me, the cut off time was generous and as long as I finished the day would be a success.

The aid stations were friendly and well stocked with drink and food. The organisers even managed to add an extra couple of aid stations in due to the glorious weather.

From about 28/ 29 miles I basically enjoyed a walk in the English countryside to the finish. I shared this with several fellow competitors including Colin who was recovering from a medial ligament injury. Together we completed the loop.

At the finish I treated myself to a cup of tea and reflected on the day. My legs were stiff, the sole of my right foot bruised and I had some chaffing from my rucksack, but I had just covered 40miles.

In a few days my legs and everything would be fine and I would be a little bit stronger from the experience.

Alfie and Arthur will never be this lucky. It is far too easy to forget how lucky most of us are to be able to enjoy sport and physical endeavour.

Next time your legs are burning from a run, or bike be thankful that your body allows you to pursue athletic endeavour.

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