I have been running for close to a decade and, in that time, have completed six marathons. It took much effort to finally dip below the three-hour mark. Chasing another ‘personal best’ didn’t seem appropriate (let alone motivate me) at this time so, despite being entered into the 2011 London Marathon, it wouldn’t be enough to entice me back into training. I needed something bigger to aim for. I also wanted to do something to raise money for my Grandparents – for which a marathon alone would ‘not do’.
I looked at the possibility of marathoning on consecutive weekends, but the big marathons were filling up fast, if they weren’t already full. And I wasn’t interested in a series of low key marathons. I started to think beyond a marathon. Meanwhile, the inspectors came to work and my training would have to remain on hold for another week.
I thought about the races I had withdrawn from in the autumn and focused quickly on marathons in the Swiss Alps. I soon discovered The Swiss Alpine Marathon in Davos at the end of July, coinciding with the start of the school holidays. At 50 miles, it would be the furthest I have run, on the most difficult of terrains in the most difficult conditions. It was just what I wanted.
I discussed it with friends for a few days to test their reaction and to see if they would be interested in joining me. On 10th December, I entered the race and, almost instantly, my weekly mileage went from 5 to 25. I started telling people of my plans and immediately started to focus on my training. I went for 8 miles alone on the Saturday, and met The Emu and TFP the next day for what would prove to be a difficult 10.
The Emu had already picked up on my Swiss plans and started to tell me some plans he was hatching of his own. He was looking at running the Paris Marathon, the London Marathon the following weekend and running from Paris to London in the 6 days between. I informed him that I had already looked at doing the Paris Marathon in conjunction with London, but that Paris was full. He was aware of this fact – and was already working on how to overcome this hurdle.
I thought about it for a few strides, but it didn’t take long. The marathons being a week apart would reflect the time between my Grandparents deaths. The run from Paris to London would turn the event into a single worthwhile challenge. Suddenly, I was hooked. I wanted to join him. I told him straight away and thought about the prospect non-stop for the remainder of the run, save a brief debate on university tuition fees and the recent riots. In fact, I seemed to think about it non-stop for the following weeks. I had a few concerns, but definitely wanted to do it.
I discussed it with some friends but, aware of the scale of the challenge, I was worried that I couldn’t do it. I wanted some feedback and some opinion, but I didn’t want to appear to be wimping out at the first opportunity. I was scared of failure. It quickly became apparent that we had three hurdles to overcome as soon as possible to be sure that we at least had a chance of completing the task.
We both had entry into the London Marathon, but needed entry into the Paris Marathon. We would need somebody who would be prepared to support us while we were running outside of the two marathons. And we needed to be reasonably happy that we were capable of being sufficiently fit. We had our work cut out on all three counts.