A very good friend once said to me "You only know your an athlete once you get an injury" - That friend is Andy McMenemey and a week today he will have completed his first marathon of 66. - This is not a typing error!
Andy will be running 66 (ULTRA) marathons!
In the 66 major cities of the UK!
In 66 consecutive days!
Have a look at the website http://www.challenge66.org/ . The world record attempt he is about to undertake is truly incredible and truly inspiring, not only pushing himself to the limit but raising both money and awareness for ABF 'the soldiers charity'.
When Andy first talked to us about this 'idea' he had we called him barmy, a looney, insane (amongst other things!) and then decided if anyone could do it he could. Challenge 66 was born and he ran with it and we ran with him, over the last 12-18 months it has been incredibly exciting watching his dream come to life and listening and following to his journey.
He has helped me along my incredible journey as I have mentioned before in my blogs and it only seemed natural that my first ever marathon would be ran with him on the Hull leg of his journey (who'd have thought that Hull was one of the 66 major cities of the UK?). I was honoured that he'd mentioned it and I would be honoured to run with him so training was set and I was out on the street running, pounding the treadmill and clocking up the miles.
By the beginning of October of last year it became very apparant that I was having a serious problem with my left shoulder. I went to the Dr who sent me for physio. After 2 1/2 months the physio wasn't helping so back to the Dr to be referred to a specialist. After various prodding, poking, scans and cortisone injections it was determined I had a rotator cuff injury that needed an operation to remove some excess bone that had been growing, give it a good scrape out and a clean up.
My training was abandoned! My life had fallen apart because my dream of running my first marathon with my mentor was shattered.
All I could do now was watch Challenge66 unfold from the sideline, encouraging where I could and following the blogs that were being released. That was until 2 weeks ago!
On 24th Febraury (which happends to be my Mum and Dads wedding Anniversary!! - call it fate if you will) Ray and I saw a post on Facebook that pricked up our ears and started us thinking.
The Challenge66 team were looking for a driver for their journey who would be responsible for a 36ft American left hand drive RV. We had a talking point. . . Was it too short notice? . . . Would it need a special licence and if so could we get one in time? . . . was it 'do-able' with holidays and dates that we were already commited on?? We talked a lot over that weekend and it was heartwarming and heartbreaking all in a session. I was still out of the loop as my shoulder operation had taken place on the 21st February and I'm unable to do an awful lot for a while but by the Monday Ray had made the all important phone call and offered his services as a driver for Challenge66.
Ray is now part of the Challenge66 team comprising of Andy(The Legs!) McMenemey, Barry Groves (Project Director), Sophie Vowden (Physio), Ray Birch (Driver), Kevin Jones (Driver) and Nicky Groves (Admin)
Has Challenge66 come at a bad time??
In a lot of ways it couldn't have come at a worse time!!
My shoulder in a lot of ways is worse than it was. I am at the moment living on pain killers and struggling to even dress myself.
We have decorators, workmen and contractors crawling all over the place sorting jobs out that are well overdue!!
At the moment I'm neither allowed or able to drive and we live 3 miles from the nearest supermarket. Ray and the team depart on Tuesday and until I get to physio next Thursday I won't even know when I can drive!
AND we have a 5 year old son!!
BUT and it is a HUGE .......................... BUT!!
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, that will NEVER be replicated and should never be missed!!
Andy is a true gentleman, a great friend and has helped give me my life back. My initial objective of Challenge66 was for me to run my first ever marathon with my mentor Andy. Because of my shoulder that will never happen (but there is a marathon with my name on it in the future!) In the meantime, for me to give him my husband for just 2 months is only a fraction of what I owe him and not nearly what he deserves! I really do wish him all the luck in the world and I'll be with him 100% of the way and seeing him whenever I can.
To my wonderful husband Ray - Am I jelous???
DARN RIGHT!!! You can bet your life I am love!!! I would give anything to be in the position you are in right now, but you really do have my 100% blessing. I love you unconditionally and will be here with Benjamin waiting for you when you get home.
Benjamin and I CAN and WILL cope and I promise not to struggle and ask for help if I need it!!
We have mapped out the 66 cities and there is a flag waiting for every completed marathon.
Good luck and safe journey to you all.
All my love