Some of us more sedentary types think of those who will push themselves around the 26.2 miles of the Windermere Brathay Marathon next Sunday are madmen. Crazier by far, are the small group who will run round the lake ten times this week, who have made a start on their epic challenge. This is The 10 in 10.
Thats’s right, 10 marathons, in 10 days, culminating in the actual Brathay Windermere Marathon race. Even more impressive, this group have been doing it for a number of years now. Supported by physios and kilometres of surgical tape, they do it for charity, and because they love running.
The start of the Brathay Windermere Marathon is a particularly poignant week for the organisers, the Brathay Trust, after the death, during the London Marathon, of their great friend and supporter Matt Campbell. Matt was running the race in memory of his dad, Martin, who was the longtime cameraman for the 10 in 10, and himself an ardent supporter of Brathay Trust.
That news was followed by the death of a runner in the Belfast Marathon, and the death of a runner in the Lakes during a recce for the 24-hour Bob Graham Round.
No one tackles events such as these unless they are sure of their own fitness. Even the slowest of marathon runners will have been putting in the miles in training (and slow runners spend much more time out on their feet than the guys at the front, believe me). Runners know the risks, and run in spite of them, and in spite of the obvious pains and struggle involved.
To quote Richard Askwith author of running classic Feet in the Clouds,
“But most fell-runners I know feel – and dislike – the sport’s pains. Those who persist see them as the price that must be paid for the compensatory pleasures. These include the scenery, … the conversation, … the joy of being outdoors in the wilderness, … the joy of making full use of your physical powers, … and the joy – which applies all the more when the other pleasures don’t – of it all being over, and of being able to share your relief with like-minded people.”
So they run in spite of the risks, because the far greater risk is to do not do it at all. Running, especially at the extremes, once started, becomes a habit, passion and then, often, addiction.
As leader of the local mountain rescue team, I know a lot of people who take risks in pursuit of their outdoor habits and addictions. Indeed many of our guests can be counted amongst this group – the FRA, for example, stay with us every year for a training weekend. One has enormous respect for people who will train themselves to their own limits, risking getting hurt, injured or worse. But studies prove conclusively that sport, exercise and the outdoors are essential for good mental health as well as physical fitness.
So give a cheer and a wave all this week as you see those guys and gals running round the Lake, and come out on Sunday to support the fantastic spectacle of a mass participation marathon. And of course, good luck to anybody out there running, after all, “There is a pleasure in being mad which none but madmen know”.