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Leon’s Quest for the Vest – 100 marathons

My journey really started in April 2012 after a visit to the doctors and being given notice that a) I was very overweight b) I drank way too much c) my blood pressure was sky high and I would need to go on tablets if things didn’t change and d) I was quickly approaching 50. Thanks Doc. With a 3 year old and another one on the way things had to change and fast. Well I decided on that day to do the London Marathon, so I chose a charity and applied. In fact I had to choose a few charities as they are quite hard to get into. I found out I had got a place in the July so on the 6th I stopped drinking alcohol and started doing parkrun. I was 19.5 stones.

There was no way I was going to join a running club looking like this I said, so I cut down what I was eating and the fat started to disappear. Strange that. To be honest I’m really lazy and I new I wouldn’t go out and train so I looked around at running clubs and gave a couple a go, I was very disappointed and struggling as I didn’t feel welcome, but I decided to come to a Tuesday night run at Sandhurst where I was greeted by the great Ron who took me under his wing and got me around through the woods and trees with all the warmth you could have wanted. I’d found my running home.

The training went well and I made friends, lots of them. If you would have told me then that less than 5 years later I would, could, should have done a 100 of these bloody things well I’m sure you know what I said, especially after the first one. Not being able to drive the car home, stairs become Everest, walking like John Wayne. Never again I said. Unfortunately for me I had already booked another and if it wasn’t for this race I probably would have stopped at two but I fell in love with the Loch Ness marathon and have tried to do it every year. I had the unfortunate pleasure of running with a mad man called Greg one evening and being told that he had run a marathon on Sunday and was out on a club run Tuesday then going and running two marathons that weekend. What a mad man, how and who does that! I ran listening to his tall stories, nobody does twenty plus marathons a year or sixty plus… really come on. I ran Greg’s 100th marathon in January 2015 and got thinking could I do 100?

I thought and thought and whilst running the London Marathon with Richard I said I want to give it a go. Be sensible, do it over five years, twenty a year, that should be doable. So this is how it went. 2013: two marathons, 2014: two marathons, 2015: fourteen marathons, 2016: twenty nine marathons (went a little over!) 2017: fifty four marathons (someone introduced a medal and shirt) has to be done then. 2018: not as many I promise. I have run lots of different marathons and do have lots more to come, I’m now doing the ones I want as opposed to the volume but my goals for the next three years are as follows. 2018: 2 x 100 milers this year with 24 marathons. 2019: 1 x 215 miler, 2 x 100 milers, 24 x marathons. 2020: 100 x marathons in 52 weeks. Fingers crossed.

My journey has introduced me to many many people I’m happy to call great friends many more as my running family as we meet up at races and have a great gossip and I have always got someone to run with. I’ve also visited lots of wonderful parts of the country. I’m really sorry if I’ve bored the pants of everyone with my posts over the last couple of years. There are so many so many people I have to thank for the help and support over the years, in fact too many to mention but you know who you are so thanks. Please feel free to ask me about races to do, where to find them or just coming for a training run. If all I’ve done is encouraged one person to run, just proved no matter what you look like, how large you are, how fast you can do it in, please just believe in yourself and give it a go. You can do it, yes you can.

On Saturday 7th April I was lucky to be joined by over 150 runners and supporters to run and celebrate my 100th marathon. I woke up quite early, around 5.30am so made a quick cuppa and started to sort out my kit yet again probably for the tenth time. To my surprise I had butterflies and felt very nervous (it’s not like I haven’t ran one before). So I gave my brother a call as I wanted to make sure he was on his way down. I managed to force down a little breakfast just before my lift arrived, being greeted by Tracy, Nigel and Chris was great.

When we arrived at the race it was already heaving with runners and I was overwhelmed by all the good wishes and people chatting to me before I new it the race briefing had started. Rik the race director and I had discussed a walk of silence for a fellow runner who had sadly passed away suddenly a week before so the walk to the start was a time to reflect on how lucky we are and to pass on our thoughts to the family for their loss. The race started a few minutes late but we were soon off and running. The weather was perfect for running and I was joined by my brother and Simon for the whole race but at points during the race I could quite happily have pushed my brother into the Thames. But thanks to him and Simon I was only three minutes out of my predicted time.

To say the support on the day was overwhelming would be an understatement. All the shouts of ‘well done’ and cheering at the start / finish area. Seeing so many Sandhurst Joggers doing their first marathons and halfs was amazing. So many friends just turning up to support, family, who have given up so much time so I can run. As I approached the finish it felt like I was running into a tunnel of noise. I was so pleased that I had to run another 50 yards beyond the finish line which gave me time to compose myself as I could feel myself welling up. Done done done. I’ve got there. I had so many people to see, thank, and hug, I just didn’t know which way to turn, so if I didn’t get to you or thank you for everything I’m really sorry. I was presented with my 100 medal and shirt by the great Greg War who flew back just to do this. I will be forever grateful mate! Now new challenges start but a little rest first. Thanks all.

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