The Ultimate Ultra-Marathon Challenge
Gavin endured his way across the UK
Saturday 27th April until Sunday 26th May 2013
“This is a challenge to highlight the daily challenges people with type 1 diabetes have to live with every day, whilst showing those with it that we can achieve anything we set our hearts to accomplish in life – diabetes cannot hold us back.”
To DONATE to both Diabetes UK and JDRF UK in support of this immense effort, please see the following link (donations automatically go into a 50/50 split between charities) : http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/GBR3030
A thanks to GlucoMen who donated some sponsorship towards the challenge in support.
|Saturday 27th April 2013||John O’Groats Sign Post||Lybster Golf Club|
|Sunday 28th April 2013||Scotsburn Road, Tain||Inverness Castle|
|Monday 29th April 2013||Tulloch Caledonian Stadium||Mosset Park, Forres|
|Tuesday 30th April 2013||Insch Train Station||Esplanade Aberdeen|
|Wednesday 1st May 2013||Pittodrie Park, Aberdeen FC||Johnshaven|
|Thursday 2nd May 2013||Links Park, Montrose FC||Overgate Centre, High St, Dundee|
|Friday 3rd May 2013||Tannadice Park, Dundee Utd FC||Black Watch Castle, Perth|
|Saturday 4th May 2013||Curves Perth Gym, Perth||East End Park, Dunfermline AFC|
|Sunday 5th May 2013||Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow Rangers FC||Memorial Park, Wishaw|
|Monday 6th May 2013||Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie||Edinburgh Castle|
|Tuesday 7th May 2013||Edinburgh Castle||Dunbar|
|Wednesday 8th May 2013||Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle||Roman Vindolanda Museum, Hadrian’s Wall|
|Thursday 9th May 2013||Bardon Mill||Carlisle Castle|
|Friday 10th May 2013||Brunton Park, Carlisle Utd FC||Derwent Park, Workington|
|Saturday 11th May 2013||Lancaster||Highbury Stadium, Fleetwood Town FC|
|Sunday 12th May 2013||Blackpool Pier||Ewood Park Blackburn Rovers FC|
|Monday 13th May 2013||Old Trafford, Manchester Utd||Anfield, Liverpool FC|
|Tuesday 14th May 2013||Goodison Park, Everton FC||Queensway Sports Complex|
|Wednesday 15th May 2013||The Racecourse Ground Wrexham FC||Gresty Road, Crewe Alexandra FC|
|Thursday 16th May 2013||The Potteries Museum, Stoke||Telford Athletics Club|
|Friday 17th May 2013||Central Park, Telford||The Bull Ring, Birmingham|
|Saturday 18th May 2013||Villa Park, Birmingham||Worcester Cathedral|
|Sunday 19th May 2013||Worcester||Gloucester Athletics Club|
|Monday 20th May 2013||Stratford Park, Stroud||Bristol Cathedral|
|Tuesday 21st May 2013||Cheddar Gorge||Somerset Country Cricket Club|
|Wednesday 22nd May 2013||Somerset County Cricket Club||Saint James’ Park Exeter City FC|
|Thursday 23rd May 2013||Plainmoor, Torquay United FC||Plymouth Harbour|
|Friday 24th May 2013||Home Park, Plymouth Argyle FC||Bodmin Jail|
|Saturday 25th May 2013||Bodmin Jail||Saint Agnes Post Office|
|Sunday 26th May 2013||Saint Agnes||Land’s End Sign Post|
Saturday 27th April 2013, start point at John O’Groats.
Halfway through Day 1, Matt Wood (who joined me in running the whole day for the first ultra run of 30 and his wife Clare was the support car driver for the day), and I stopped in at Hamsworth Park, home of Wick Academy FC in the Highland League.
I had a great nights sleep at the Golf View in Tain before setting off from Tain to Inverness. A great thanks to Stephen Bourne who was a support driver for the whole day. Also thanks to Esk who I happened to run by as he went for a Sunday morning cycle and he ended up guiding me through half the journey!
After avoiding cars on the A9 through Day 2, Day 3 saw me take on running from the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, home of the very supportive Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC of the SPL, to Mosset Park in Forres – home of the likewise supportive Forres Mechanics FC from the Highland League.
The Inverness Diabetes Support Group saw me off and I was also joined a few miles by Roddy Riddle – a former professional cyclist who represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Games and the first Type 1 Diabetic I believe to ever complete the Marathon De Sables – which he recently accomplished!
Day 4 had an hours long train journey, which stiffened my legs up before even starting. I went from a random and empty town named Insch to Aberdeen – and am very grateful to the Aberdeen Combat Center for their support, taking my bags in the morning and having me at their gym afterwards. It was a lonely route out there on my own for a whole day!
Here I am on Day 5 with Jim Leighton – a legendary former international Goalkeeper of Scotland and the Goalkeeping coach at Aberdeen FC.
I ran from Aberdeen to Johnshaven, very grateful for the support from Bee, Phil McLean, Bill and Margaret Ferries on the day – Phil and Bill being with me in support the entire day!
Day 6 started with a real lift – I wasn’t running alone – I had a class of eager school children joining me for the first mile at Montrose! Then I was accompanied for 15 miles by Wendy who also donated £300!
Come Dundee though, I was in a bad state in my legs…
I gave a talk in the evening after reaching Dundee at Ninewells Hospital, to the Taykids diabetes support group. The group also donated £250!
I stayed at the Aabalree Guest House in Dundee and the support of John and Linda Bell there was magnificent – John even went a bought me a knee strap to help me on my way. Day 7 didn’t go to plan, suffering badly with my legs on the back of 7 marathons in distance, unaided, in 6 days. I managed a number of miles – but come Perth I had to limp my way to the rainy finish line – Type 1 Beth saw that I did it!
Day 7 began at Tannadice Park home of Dundee United FC
I had a bright start on Day 8, my parents and my kind of aunt and uncle (I guess would be the easiest way to describe close 2nd/3rd cousins..) had come up for the bank holiday weekend with my Dad and Gary joining for the second week. I was seen off by the ladies at Curves Gym in Perth – and here modeled their new seated exercise machine…
Finished Day 8 at East End Park, Dundermline Athletic's ground - as they played their last league game of the season in a defeat against Airdrie. The club gave me a cuppa and a pork pie to keep me happy - I forced movements but legs were in a right old state at this point!
“Does anybody want a bit of quiche?”
The mighty Rangers were celebrating becoming Division 3 Champions on the back of difficult times at Ibrox and I started Day 9 from there to Wishaw – a day I spent limping in some agony.
The Excelsior Stadium, which currently hosts Airdrie United FC, was the start point for Day 10: Airdrie to Edinburgh. I had a number of troubles early on and couldn’t move well at all – to my frustration I had to rest for half the day and run the last part into Edinburgh – with extreme difficulty!
This is the very supportive Diabetes UK Edinburgh Voluntary Group – and the lady on the far right (arms folded in blue) named Cloutilde, is the sports masseuse that I would say saved my challenge! She gave me a check over and highlighted the seed of my problem – a previous injury 4 years back where I tore ankle ligaments, the left did not heal as well as the right and left a weakness, which was exposed by the excessive amount of exercise and strain I had enforced on my feet in the past number of Ultra runs back-to-back. This meant with an in-balance on my feet, I naturally counteracted it by leaning more on the right side, causing the limp, and also put added pressure on my knees – which I was feeling the impact of! I had to strengthen the left foot back up if I was to stand any chance of completing the next 2/3′s of the challenge.
With my Dad and Gary we had a few Newcastle Brown Ale’s in Geordie Land that evening, not too many but enough! This, I feel, was needed. To wind down a little. The following day was Newcastle to Hexham and if I was to be successful a lot depended on this day – could I get moving again without limping?
I was walk-run-walk-running, taking it easy to not over-do-it – even though I was still covering 30(+) miles. But the important factor was that I was doing it! I was moving and I was moving with much more comfort again, able to keep an even balance. The exercises on my legs had been effective and the challenge was back on!
…we did get lost on the wrong side of the River Tyne that day though
When I made it from Bardon Mill to Carlisle Castle, hitting a sudden burst into a 10mph pace to finish the day off on Day 13, I knew in my mind the I really could achieve completing 30/30 – the problems were behind me, I could run strong again!
Holding the Torch is Type 1 6 year Old Angel, who really is an Angel! She gave me a wooden Angel to protect me for the rest of my journey.
Day 14, Carlisle to Workington, started at Brunton Park home of Carlisle United FC. The 10th of May is a date where on both sides of my family an important member to me has been lost. In 1998 my Grandad Harry passed on that day, and recently in 2011 we lost Uncle Michael that day. So I wanted to get through the day and dedicate that to them and my family on the 10th – I ran with Angel’s angel in my pocket for the first time – ironically enough.
Day 15, the halfway day, was filled with non-stop rain!!! 4 hours of rain to start the day = #unpleasant
I ran from Lancaster to Fleetwood – finishing at Highbury Stadium home of Fleetwood Town FC, whose hospitality of me was incredible: a tour around the ground, a meal, a shower, a beer, a box to sit and watch the FA Cup final in. I was delighted to be running strongly and this was the icing on the cake! Thank you Fleetwood Town FC!
Day 16, over the halfway mark and feeling very confident. I was joined by Danny Moon on the first 15 miles from Blackpool into Preston, he done brilliant as a 15 year old with Type 1 diabetes who’d never ran more than 5 miles before!
I finished in the rain at Ewood Park.
In the evening of Day 16 I went back to Preston to speak with the Preston and Area Junior Diabetes Group, before saying goodbye to Dad and Gary and being picked to to go to Bury, where I’d stay at fellow Type 1 Hannah’s families home, before travelling to Manchester in the morning!
Jude Sutton took me from Bury to Old Trafford and then took my bags on from there, her twins both have Type 1 diabetes!
We had a tour around Old Trafford, with thanks to the Premier League Champions, Manchester United FC, who were super on the day.
The day was raising for DWED (Diabetics With Eating Disorders) and is dedicated in memory of Sian Howarth, who was taken far before her time at just 23 and was a Type 1 diabetic that worked to inspire – hence DWED being set up. Kathryn from DWED joined my final 10 miles of a very hard day, and we finished at Anfield home of Liverpool FC!
Tom Jones, from Wales of course, joined me to run the whole day – Tom is a fellow Type 1 like myself and a Everton fan.
This is the finish at Queensway Wrexham – I was pleased to make it alive!
After a wet and long day the day before and in being without a sports masseuse or any professional help since Edinburgh, on Day 19 I was feeling the affects again. Fortunately we were able to see a physio! The route was Wrexham to Crewe, but in seeing the physio I couldn’t do a full day being against the clock (any later than a 8pm finish and my recovery for the next day would be under pressure) so I was pushed up a couple of miles. This didn’t matter too much, I’m only human and needed to be fit for the next 1/3 of the challenge having already covered more miles than I should have and over 20 marathons in 19 days. Tom supported as a driver with my bags, and when approaching Crewe I got my pace going strong again and finished very well.
Day 20, Stoke to Telford. I started at the Potteries Museum in Stoke-on-Trent and after finding my way out of the city center, made my way to Telford on a day that registered over 35 miles!
Andy Clifton supported me as a driver and a runner – parking up and running 5 miles before running back to get the car!
My spirits were lifted on my Telford finish. We couldn’t find the originally planned ‘Central Park’ anywhere and so went to Telford Athletics Club – there I ended up doing an additonal 400m with around 50 young athletes around the track! They each took turns at carrying the Olympic Torch!
I stayed at the Stone House Guest House and can’t thank the Taylor’s enough for their support and hospitality, having me for dinner as well as for Bed and Breakfast!
I stopped in at Molineux Stadium, home of Wolverhampton Wanderers, on my run from Telford to Birmingham – which again clocked up considerable miles more than the intended 30. It wasn’t easy going, the canals for many miles appeared like I could get mugged at any moment!
Met my family on the morning of Day 22, which was a boost, and my sister Kaylie I hadn’t seen in around 8 months – she’d be with me on the support team for the remainder of the challenge! Villa Park to Worcester – very grateful for the support of Aston Villa FC!
I had my family in support for the final day until the final weekend, so it was a good boost for the route from Worcester to Gloucester. The Glenvum Voluntary Group at Gloucester donated £150 at my finish!
Jeff Astle (in the photo) ran 2 full days incredibly back-to-back! His daughter, Mimi, a 9 year old Type 1, was the star of the day running the Torch past her class mates at the start of the day through Cheddar and then finishing the day with it into Somerset County Cricket Club.
I was struggling along a bit as I entered Devon from Somerset on my route from Taunton to Exeter. The night before the town of Mark had a fund raiser at the Pack Horse Inn pub which raised £1200 for the cause – so on this day my spirits were lifted.
I can be your hero baby…
It was an extremely difficult run to Plymouth though…
Kevin Winchcombe joined up with me for the remaining 4 days, along with Kaylie and aunt Jayne who were the support team for the final week.
Kev would cycle each day beside me.
‘Support Team’ were enthusiastic… (this video contains some bad language from my support team, I do apologise..)
After a look around the spooky Bodmin Jail, my second to last day was a route from Bodmin to Saint Agnes – very hilly again!
Amy Winchcombe, a Type 1 12 Year old (holding Torch), joined me in defying diabetes as she cycled for a day meeting me with her family at the top of this crazy 500ft hill out of Bodmin! Amy done fantastic – even running the final MASSIVE hill into Saint Agnes with the Torch!
The final day was Saint Agnes to Land’s End – an absolute monster 40 miles (after Matt Wood – again running a full day – and I took a wrong turn 12 miles in). Kev met us and cycled from Hayle, what was meant to be the 15/16 mile point but probably was more around 20 miles!
I was in a eager mood to get the job done and hit some quick speeds in good spells. It was a long old day but come the finish point, I had to go full out. Before I started the challenge I knew a Sprint Finish would be the way to do it, as I always have forced out in the past.
A sprint finish it was!
There was little rest. The following day I needed to make it to Wembley Stadium, finishing my tour of football stadiums, to watch Crystal Palace get promoted!