Well, what an enjoyable experience that was. Battered by strong winds, drenched by heavy rain showers, freezing cold, fingers numb.
I’ve just come back from my first pain free run for four months. A nice, easy, ten minute jog on the limestone escarpment of Cunswick Scar, perched above my home town of Kendal. Every springy step a small miracle of hope. The last time I ran without discomfort was in the sprint final of the World Masters Orienteering Championships, in the heat and bright sunshine of Italy back in July.
World Masters Sprint Final 2021
Maybe pushing myself so hard on that day was too much of a risk with a dodgy achilles. Was a Gold medal really worth being sidelined with injury for four months?
Absolutely! Without question.
World Masters Sprint Podium 2022
It’s been quite a journey just getting back to this stage. Patience being tested after another freak acute injury in September knocking me down again. This time damaging nerves, my foot collapsing. The snakes and ladders of life.
Yet throughout, I’ve been in safe hands. My physio, Sarah Tunstall, easing out damaged tissues, getting back to basics, exercises strengthening withered elastic fibres. Playing the long game. Walk before you run.
Making me realise there’s a kind of pleasure in accepting being injured. When you’re immobile and have your feet wrapped in ice packs, unable to even walk properly. Thinking you’ll never, ever, run again. Then remembering all the other times. Broken bones. Sprained ankles.
Deep inside, you know it’s a matter of time. Just do what needs doing, one day at a time.
So easy when you can simply go out for a run. You take things for granted. Having your choice removed gives way more appreciation when the good times return, as they hopefully always do.
It’s the gift of adversity.
My mind homes in on this realisation, thinking back to COVID19 nearly three years ago. Our family hopes and dreams of a life in France shattered and broken by the pandemic. With combined deadlines of Brexit and our son Ash reaching secondary school age. It was a perfect time for us to make a move. Suddenly everything’s shut. French schools closed. The country in Lockdown.
Unable to travel and check out school options, we realise how unfair it would be for Ash to make a new start in a different country. The shock as reality hits home.
Lakeland Trails in Keswick
All the years of planning, handing over my life’s work with Lakeland Trails to make a new start in a new country possible. Gone.
With situations totally out of our control, we could only make the best decisions under the circumstances. Family comes first. Ash started secondary school here in Kendal just over a year ago. He’s happy and settled. It’s working out well.
Buttermere, Lake District
Accepting our changed circumstances was hard after having such high hopes. Coming to terms with life here in England, as opposed to the warmer climes of the Pyrenees. I guess it was always more of my dream than my partner Claire’s, being always ready for a new challenge.
Just like my achilles injury, it took some time, patience and perseverance to eventually sort things out. It comes good. By looking hard enough, there’s always another gift of adversity. We know we’re very lucky to live here in the Lake District.
Helvellyn, Lake District
Though having no involvement with Lakeland Trails anymore, there’s pride and pleasure seeing my living legacy, still going strong under the leadership of Phil Blaylock. Everything pretty much the same as always.
Helvellyn Trail 2021
Most folk nowadays don’t even know who I am when I’m at the events and anyway, I like keeping a low profile, after being at the helm for almost two decades.
I’m still looking for a new challenge though. Big ideas that push boundaries and inspire others excite me. Lakeland Trails was one of these. Maybe the time is right to start a whole new project here in the Lakes?
As the saying goes, ‘you may have a plan for life, but life may have a plan for you’.
14th November 2022
Founder – Lakeland Trails
World Masters Orienteering Champion 2022