Yesterday I completed the 12th Marathon of the year, I couldn’t find an organised marathon to run so me and a few hearty souls set off in search of running 26.2 miles round Richmond Park, London.
I didn’t know what to expect when I crossed the final line, we’ll it wasn’t really a line, just a point we thought was the end of 26.2 miles, I think in the end we did 29 miles…I’d been thinking about what it would be like when I crossed the final point of the year knowing that I had run the 12th marathon. I think I was kind of expecting a burst of euphoria and emotion as I had completed the goal I had set myself. All I felt was relief that I had done it, for one reason or another, I never expect to finish all the marathons. I tried putting the whole year in perspective whilst running yesterday, but I found it quite hard to do, I managed to do fair bit of thinking though and this post is what I’ve come up with..
Let me just begin by saying that what I’ve attempted to do this year, is the most challenging and testing thing I’ve ever done. I’m not trying to grandstand or anything like that, but I never really expected the year to be so tough, I was very naïve at the start. The amount of times that I’ve questioned what I’m doing and thought that I should just pack it in has been countless. I’m pleased to have carried on through those times, because each time I’ve struggled, it has helped me respond to the next test. When you are running you dread that moment when the pain kicks in and you are fighting for the finish. I used to feel this way, but what I’ve learnt is that when that pain starts shooting up my legs and through my lungs rather than let it get me down – I’ve started to embrace it. In fact when I’m running I love that moment when I know my body is pain, because I love being able to tell my mind to shut up and just smile my way through. Without that agony brewing inside of me and would never finish the races as strong as I have.
This doesn’t just go for running. Emery our translated in DRC, always had the biggest smile on his face and was so positive about life. I couldn’t understand it at the time as he had spent years speaking and helping the women and children who had suffered rape and sexual abuse, how did he still remain so positive? I asked him and he explained that when he first started, he was upset, but then he realised that he had to stay upbeat because if you are down, angry and upset then how can you help people stay positive and see life in the future in a positive light. I think that is a great philosophy and one that I aim to embrace more than I currently am.
Keeping this going is tiring though. I found the months after coming back from DRC tough and I’m so grateful for the support I had from friends and family. I don’t know if I’m tired, but I think I probably am. Not so much from the running, when I completed my first marathon, I couldn’t walk properly for a week. Now when I run a marathon my legs are fine the next day, I’ve just been to the gym and did a fast 10km on the treadmill!
The combination of the tiredness and the ease in running a marathon that I now have makes me realise that it is time to move on. If I carried on the way I am for a few more months, I would really begin to drop, and secondly it wouldn’t be a challenge anymore. It would just be this guy running a marathon again, I don’t want to be a one trick pony known for running marathons, I want to be a whole field of ponies ;-). Because if we are going to create change in the DRC then I need to move on from being that runner and put my efforts into practice in different ways and ways that more people can be involved in.
I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported me this year and I know I’ve said this a lot, but honestly without the words of encouragement that you’ve given me none of this would have been possible – I’m so grateful.
There have been certain people who I owe so much to this year. I didn’t know how to thank them at first, but now I do. I’ve never wanted a medal for what I’ve done this year, but have managed to pick up 12 through the marathons, these mean a lot to me an awful lot. To show my thanks to the people who have believed in me and helped me achieve what I’ve set out to do I have decided to give them one of my medals.
The thinking behind this, is this is the only way I can show how grateful I am and secondly I hope by having this medal it will mean they never forget about the Congo and those who have suffered such injustice.
I plan to send Christine Karumba in the Women for Women office in Bukavu my London marathon medal to say thank you to her and her team that were so accommodating and friendly when we visited the DRC and most importantly the work they do there everyday. My New York marathon medal is going to be sent to the Women for Women London office, they have given me such support this year and helped spread the message far and wide of 12 marathons in 12 months.
Millie Harvey and Nicola York will get my Congo and London ultramarathon medals – working and spending time with them in the DRC this summer was fantastic, a real pleasure working with such talented people who care so much about the DRC.
The blog that I’ve set up has now had over 11,000 hits and has been such a great way to get the views, support and perspective of so many people. Because of this I want to give Alex Doorey my South Downs Marathon medal. I’m no computer whizz, but Doorey was patient and took the time to explain to me the workings of the internet and how to do a hashtag and the wonders of cntrl+C. Michael Cooper has supported me from the very beginning in this and I would like him to have my Cornwall Marathon medal, it means a lot when people from the beginning believe in what you are trying to do..
I’m lucky to live in a flat full of 3 great friends. It is quite hard to explain how much they have done for me this year – be it buying bags of ice for me so I can try out an ice bath, putting me in touch with ironman experts to alleviate my nervousness, trekking up to Bolton to watch a 12hr ironman race. Most importantly just being there to have a pint and talk things through.. For that reason I’m giving my New York marathon medal to Jonathan Tanner and my IronMan medal to Will Hardy. Simon doesn’t get a medal because he has plenty himself having run Nottingham and Edinburgh, but this isn’t to dismiss how much he’s done for me this year, he knows what this year has meant to me and has helped me every step of the way.
I plan to give my Mum and Dad my Nottingham Marathon medal to thank them for always being there. Lastly, I will give my Grandma my Edinburgh marathon medal, the reason for this is that I lost my Grandad on the Tuesday before that race and I want her to know for that run, I did it for them. My Grandad told me to make him proud, I hope I have.
This is my way of saying thank you.
So here it is the end of the year. This all began because I didn’t want to be that guy that sees something awful and think that’s a shame and then walk on by and forget about it. The challenge of running 12 marathons in 12 months has been the elephant in the room this year for me, always knowing another one is round the corner and trying not to let it get in the way of things. I’m glad to have finished, but just because I have finished I’m now eager to make sure that I don’t think that I’ve done my bit and forget the DRC, this won’t happen.
People have asked what’s next for me……You’ll find out soon enough, but for now I’m going to focus on resting and spending time with friends and family, because one way or another I think I might have neglected them this year as I’ve been so focused on running for Congo.
I need a break now for a bit, a chance to recharge my batteries, mull over some ideas and get my drive back, because I’m fatigued, in a good way. I’m glad I feel like this because I know that I’ve done as much as I can. I was worried that I could do more, but as this year has come to an end with the last marathon I know I’ve done my best and that more people are now aware about the Congo.
Chris Jackson 12.12.10