It was the strength of people’s reactions when I told them about my plan to run 7 marathons in 7 days that, at times, had me wondering whether this had been such a great idea. I had run several coastal path marathons and was training for a mountain one in Switzerland, but the cumulative effect of running 26 miles, day after day, was still a big unknown which would only become clear as the week progressed. Several years ago I worked on a project in Bolivia in a village that shared a single water tap. It had made me much more aware of the importance of water and how we take it for granted, so FRANK Water seemed a perfect charity to raise money for.
On the Sunday I travelled with my family to a little village in the Cotswolds in search of the stone that marked the start of the Thames Path. This was to be the beginning of my week of marathons that would take me from the little brook at the river’s source to the massive expanse of water straddled by the Thames Barrier.
The first day was hard work, mainly due to the difficult terrain of boggy fields, muddy paths and even wading through water up to my shorts at one point. It also didn’t help that I managed to get myself lost a couple of times, once to the annoyance of an angry farmer who came after me, chasing me on his motorbike. My family left me in a B&B that afternoon worried about how exhausted I was looking after the difficult 29 miles.
From then on, though, it was pretty much plain sailing. The first of seven friends joined me the next day to run my second marathon and I ended it feeling much fresher than the day before. Each night now I was staying with friends or family and was treated to great hospitality and was fed and looked after really well. On the Tuesday I arrived at my parents’ house in time for my dad’s 80th birthday party, so it was great to be able to share that with them.
The course wound its way through places where I had grown up and gone to school. In Henley I was greeted at the finishing line by the deputy head of the sixth form college I went to, and he had primed strangers along the route to cheer me on which was a great boost.
The final day arrived all too quickly and I was joined by family and friends at Kew Bridge to see me and a couple of friends off for the last 26 miles. Running past the London landmarks was an amazing way to finish, no more gates to open, just the odd groups of tourists to dodge. We managed to complete the marathon in less than 4 hours and were met by a welcoming committee and a bottle of champagne at the Thames Barrier.
I had never known quite what to expect from this week. One thing that did take me by surprise was quite how much I enjoyed it all. More importantly, though, I have been amazed at the generosity of supporters who have helped me raise over £6000 - more than enough to meet my original aim of funding a water project.