London 2012 was undeniably an inspiration to the world and will go down as arguably the greatest games ever. Months on since the hights of the summer achievements of Team GB and London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, it could be argued that the Olympic Flame that captured the nation and got every person feeling it, buzzing from the inside, is well and truely extinguished. Even our cycling hero Bradley Wiggins was knocked off his bike by a vehicle on the road!
Yet, although November 2012 was more of a disapointment personally to me in the respect that I’m not doing what I trained for, I’ve been injured and out of running GBR 30/30 challenge for diabetes awareness, I have travelled about to a number of locations across the UK to give inspirational talks to others with diabetes – particuarly the next generation. And with me, helping me to inspire all the way, my golden shining piece of brass with 8000 holes in it… THE OLYMPIC TORCH!
It takes 11 and a half hours to go from London Victoria to Dundee via BUS… as I came to realise. And of course not to mention, another 11 and a half hours coming back home again…
There were seemingly much easier and quicker ways of travelling from London to Dundee, flights would be the first inital thought. Lorraine Kelly does it quite frequently each week so I’ve heard; however, with a late booking price (as I was not expecting to be injured throughout the month of November and in fact intended to be running in to Dundee from Montrose that date) the price of a flight from London City Airport (very local to me) equalled over £200. Unfortunately I only received my graduation from University a few weeks back and therefore am not quite the millionaire I aspire to be just yet… so £19 each way on a bus was the best option!
As lovely as the City of Dundee is I wasn’t going there for any form of luxury. I arrived in Dundee at 7.30pm and hopped off the bus with my bag and big coat on – expecting Scotland to be something similar to Winter Wonderland – got straight into the patiently waiting Margaret’s car after introducing ourselves and went to Ninewells Hospital to do my talk to the Taykids Diabetes Support Group.
On my way in on the bus we went through Glasgow and I did hold some fears when I asked the driver to turn the ridiculously warm heating down a touch. The driver did respond, but what he said exactly is still a mystery to me now. There may be a language barrier here my initial thoughts.
Fortunately once I got to Dundee they informed me there, with good understanding of each other’s accents, that they too don’t quite understand the Glasgwegian accent.
There I gave my talk to the group of young children in attendance with their parents, with also Nuala from Northern Ireland and Kevin who is part of the Diabetes UK Young Leaders advocates there. Kevin done me a great favour in speaking to his friend Stephen who put me up a sofa in Dundee for the night. I’m quite an interesting speaker, with my runs to talk about and past accomplishments it makes the speaking quite easy for me to do with some great stories to tell. But it is without a doubt a key part of my ‘act’ once I get to the part where I then draw out my gold coloured jewel… the Torch and hand it over to the nearest member of the audience to see, hold and pass on to the next person. A sight of that torch seems to light up every persons eyes that touch wider, it brings a smile onto every face that gazes at it and serves a sense of energy to each room it is in.
My talks are about how something like diabetes never could hold me back in life. How actually, that seemingly negative aspect of being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes went on to become a real positive in my life. Giving me a purpose, making me become a runner – as I wouldn’t run if I didn’t have diabetes and therefore would’t have achieved all the accomplishments I have done. And, whats more, I wouldn’t be showing people that golden piece of inspiration I have if I never had diabetes.
I stayed over in Madingly House in Cambridge on my next talking venture, where I spoke in front of a number of medical professionals across the UK. This talk had to be for an hour so I increased the photos in my slide show, however, there were plenty of photographs to choose from with 5 years of Ultramarathon experiences and plenty of stories to tell. My talk varied from the extreme endurance tests on both my body and my diabetes control in running such crazy distances, to the mad lifestyle of a 21st century youngster with diabetes including drinking and holidays. It went down very well I’m pleased to say, and may be travelling around the country more often in the near future!
My next venture was to Blackburn, Ewood Park football stadium, to talk to the Preston and Area Junior Diabetes Support Group. With this talk it wasn’t with a slideshow, just a talk, however, my stories were focused on what you can achieve in life and how diabetes cannot prevent your achievemenets, which I hoped would go down well with the group. It did with the response I got back again and it was great to see a group which has both parents of diabetic children able to socialise and discuss everything, whilst there are the kids with diabetes in common in a local area able to connect and become friends.
Again… the Olympic Torch, my Excalibur sword in many ways, lighting eyes up! I taught a cute kid how I ran with it, as I handed him the torch to run about the room with and wave to the cheering spectators as I had done on that memorable summers day!
I returned from Blackburn by train from Preston to London Euston and made it successfully on time to Selhurst Park to then watch my beloved Crystal Palace remain top of the table and beat Derby County 3-0! A lot of travelling, but I really enjoyed it and appeared to pass on some inspiration to a lot of people. That was just by talking, so imagine the amount of inspiration achievable when I am running 30 miles a day for 30 days from John O’Groats to Land’s End!
One thing is for sure, that Olympic Spirit is far from burnt out. In fact, it was alive before the games and it comes from inside of each person who wants it that much… what are you made of? How much heart have you got in you? What can you do to make a difference? The torch is just a symbol of it.
Bring on my challenge!