LOROS CEO recalls moment Hospice fundraisers celebrated after completing back-to-back marathon challenge
24th July 2019
It was an early start for all of us, 4.15am in fact. We are so used to seeing each other in smart clothes, as we delve into deep debates and conversations during various LOROS operational meetings, or in clinical uniforms assisting patients. So it seemed slightly surreal that there we were, 18 faces from across a number of departments within LOROS and of course, a few friends of ours, dressed head to toe in our sportswear, as we headed to the start of the ‘Race to the Tower ‘ along the Cotswolds Way in Gloucestershire.
For the next two days, we were to head through some of Britain’s prettiest countryside, as we took on the challenge of a lifetime, an ultra-marathon, a total of 52 miles. None of us had done a back-to-back marathon before and some of us, not even a single.
It was windy, drizzling and cold but we’d all spent months training for this weekend with one clear uniting purpose, to raise money for the Hospice.
We were among nearly a thousand people taking part but the chemistry between our little group was truly magical; you could sense it immediately.
At 7.55 am the starting gun released us and the race had begun. Within a few miles, we hit muddy terrain, which was only a sign of things yet to come. It was all off-road, the winding paths joined together by hill after hill. The rocks were slippery, especially on the descent downhill; even as a regular runner myself, it was testing.
With great team spirit we pulled each other through – some of us walking, others running, as we found ourselves sharing life stories with complete strangers who we met on route, comparing reasons why we were taking part, sharing mutual running war stories.
The sun was beaming by the end of the day and our final uphill climb, which was an absolute stinger; we were all ready for the marquee full of food that was waiting for us at the top. That was definitely the toughest climb of the event.
The buzz at the top only reflected the atmosphere I had felt throughout the day. The sun was shining, music was playing and there were endless amounts of food for us to enjoy as we shared our war stories from the day just gone.
There was a sense of complete comradery between everyone taking part, from complete novices, to elite runners, everyone was welcomed into the tent with open arms – it was probably the least judgemental event I’ve ever taken part in.
By 9.30pm we were all in bed, safely tucked into the tents, hundreds of which were neatly lined up one after another not far from the marquee, port-a-loos and tepee bar.
By sunrise we were back up and in the food tent. It still amazes me that some people were able to stomach a whole fry-up, complete with eggs, bacon, the lot, ahead of a further 26 miles. I opted for muesli, coffee and a muffin, a much better suited pre-marathon meal, if you ask me.
The sun was shining from start to finish, as we checked off mile after mile, the finish line getting closer with every footstep.
Everyone seemed to have a certain air of confidence the second day, I think it was because we had all got through day one and we knew what was to come.
The day was once again a course of off-road forest trails and farm tracks, set amongst the beautiful Cotswolds countryside, with the ending point being the Broadway Tower, in Worcestershire.
We had a Wattsapp group, which relentlessly pinged, as people crossed milestones, taking selfies with one another, or sharing words of encouragement.
As we all began to finish, we stood together, awaiting our fellow runners, clapping and cheering as more and more crossed the line. It was clear, some of the team had to really dig deep to push themselves through those final few miles.
By 6.45pm that evening, we had completed the route and once again, the tightness between everyone was clear, as we clashed cold beer cans in celebration and embraced each other with exhausted hugs.
Embarking on challenges like this is part of who I am but seeing my colleagues, my fellow runners, come in, one-by-one, that was the real sense of accomplishment for me that day. You can’t forget those who agreed to ‘giving it a go’ back in February, starting out completing their local Park Runs, going on to achieve back-to-back marathons. I am in awe of what they achieved and that they did so for LOROS.
This is something we will all talk about to everyone we meet, forever.