It is the end of 2010 and for many reasons the best year of my life. I thought about documenting this years events for my own records and decided that I may as well share it with you. I hope you enjoy reading about it and wish you all the very best for 2011, Mark.
Thinking back to January 2010 feels like a lifetime ago. I started the year run down and worried. Worried for the task that lay ahead. I had decided to run from Amsterdam to Barcelona in memory of my Mum. I had set the bar higher than any previous fundraising targets. £25,000 would be the amount I would try and raise for the Edinburgh Headway Group.
The goal, if successful would mean the equivalent of 50 marathons in just 56 days but as anyone who has ever set up a large challenge/expedition will tell you, getting to the start line with everything in place is the hardest part!
The first challenge was getting an event website built, I had met the team from Edinburgh Spotlight in November 2009 and had been excited by their support. Through this meeting I gained not only Friends but guidance, help and the all important website, which was built by the amazing Fourth Wall Web.
At the start of 2010 my fundraising target was at £6,241, respectable but in the grand scheme of things, not enough. I needed to set up some events, the first of these was to take place on February 5th. A charity gig in which my band
The Nature Boys and three other bands would play with us. The evening was a roaring success with a sell out crowd of 350. We raised more than just the roof on the night, £3,000, fantastic.
After the gig I returned home and set to work on the logistics of the trip, I remember clear as day sitting in my room for hours scanning over maps and trying to work my new Garmin which was kindly donated by the Good Run Guide. I fell asleep in my room at roughly 1am, when I awoke at 3am I was stricken with panic. What if I don’t raise enough money? What if I don’t get the proper sponsors on board? What if I cant do this? Had I taken on to much? I promptly decided that I would deal with these doubts as I usually do, get out for a run and think about them as I went. That’s the thing about running, it allows me to be alone in my own head, my best thinking is done out running.
I ran 23 miles through the night and came home feeling ready to address the worries head on, after a sleep of course!
One of my big challenges was funding the trip, I had a figure in my head and wanted to get as much of the capital from companies. I had already received a £2,000 donation and a good amount in corporate sponsorship from my employer DLA Piper. After months of rejection I decided to leave it be, it would be ok in the end. I would get a bank loan if I needed to.
Training by the time March came was anywhere between 90 miles per week to 110 miles per week. On top of a 9-5 job, social life and being in a band it was a hectic time by any standards. I managed to remain focused because whenever I went running it would clear my head, calm me down and make everything seem achievable.
I had set up three fundraising events in the month of March, I would run a marathon three Saturdays in a row on a treadmill in Edinburgh’s busiest shopping centres.
The events were profitable, raising over £4,500 but as far as being fun, they certainly were not. I run to be outdoors, the dreadmills were a killer.
It was during the 3rd treadmill marathon I met Julia Armstrong. Julia had come to Edinburgh to interview me for her blog. We instantly hit it off and I knew she was a great person and I wanted to be Friends with her. Julia would run the 49th of my 50 marathons and it would be one of my favourites.
In March I also began talks with Your Sports Fuel, I was so impressed with their products and genuine desire to work with me that I instantly agreed to sign the contracts. They would be my official Kit Supplier and Nutrition provider.
Also at the end of March I received a call from Artemis, they had been alerted to my challenge by Mark Beaumont, I had been in touch with Mark while he was cycling the Americas. He had shown me unbelievable support during my preparations.
Artemis had asked me to meet with them to discuss the expedition, I knew they had a history of backing adventures so I was very excited to get my foot in the door! The big day came and I met with them, they told me to keep my phone handy and they would give me a call with a decision. A couple of days later I was out on a Sunday training marathon when the phone vibrated in my pocket, I saw who it was and answered nervously, “Mark, we have had a discussion and we would love to back your trip.” I could have said I love you but I remained calm and thanked them from the bottom of my heart.
That call meant everything to me, it was the answer to all of my problems, I could now “relax” and get on with looking towards the start line.
Come the big day I set sail from Newcastle towards Amsterdam. The support vehicle had been given to us by Peter Vardy and I loved it, kitted out in high tech gear and decked out in my official logo/website it looked amazing and made the trip even more tangible.
I want to say now that getting all the backing made the trip possible but it did add to the pressure a little, these companies/people had shown a lot of faith in me and I didn’t want to let them down. It was something that played on my mind a lot.
Long story shot was that I completed the 50 marathon distances, raised over £33,000 for the charity and met some incredible people along the way. The support I was shown was unbelievable, I genuinely did not expect it, each update was met with thousands of views and the donations came rolling in and picked up towards the finish. To see a new donation come in literally every second as I stood at the end in Barcelona blew me away.
I have to say now a massive thank you to Ferelith, Jude, Matt, Euan, Ian & Diane. Without their help on the trip I would not have been able to do it.
You can watch my 50 marathons video by clicking HERE
I learned many things in 2010, I learned that to achieve something all you have to be is passionate and committed. I also learned to trust people and that the good in people is far stronger than the bad.
Looking forward to 2011 has me full of excitement and since returning I have had the great honour of speaking at many corporate/educational events. Sharing the stories and lessons that I have learnt is a thrill and something which I feel very privileged to be able to do.
My challenges for 2011 are set, there is a new business idea, new career paths, a book, a few ultra marathons and hopefully a new World Record.