I should start with: I ran the whole way. At one point I was doing a magnificent scream/growl combo but by god it got me up that hill. Not 'that' hill, mind you - which I last saw at about 5.5k - but an entirely different 'that hill' they chucked at us past 8.
This hill-type configuration wore fangs, and carried a pitchfork and attacked me with snakebites to the calves. I scream/growled the entire way up that bastard, at one point trying to encourage another runner in equal agony that it's ok, this is why we're here, let's kick this hill's ass. I ate up that hill with my lungs screaming and thrashing and banging on my face to stop-please-stop-good-grief-what-must-I-do-to-make-you-stop.
But I didn't stop.
I crested the hill grinning. And I ran the whole way.
10k. Up and down hills, across grass, through mud trying to suck my shoes off. I implored myself to dig. Then to dig deeper. And I passed people. If there is anything that fills me with even more pride than merely finishing having run the entire time, is that I trained hard, I paced smart and I passed people. Lots of people. All those people who started way too fast, thinking they could conquer mountains when they hadn't yet beat the hills. Slow and steady wins the race. Oh yes. And so true when it comes to this battle against the big C.
It is entirely why we were there.
I hadn't trained on the route they took us across, so good new sightseeing all around, particularly on the bit where they mis-directed us some 200 metres. I smiled through it because there I was. It was the day. I worked so hard for this day and there I was.
Nearly choked on my tears then, and a few more times thereafter, but then a great line in whatever song was playing would grab my feet and pull them on. One particular burst of energy I owe expressly to Big Head Todd, '...just hold on and run, you're on your way...' Thanks man, I did. I dug deep, I climbed, I scream/growled, and once I hit that magical 9k marker - the all time farthest I'd ever gone - I asked Dad to run with me. I asked that young Dad, that soldier, that strong healthy 19 year old to run with me.
Oh and he did. We rounded that final corner to the awesomeness that is Peter Gabriel's 'Shaking the Tree', just impeccably timed.
The next song started. I saw '500 metres to go'. I was already fist pumping the air, so seriously jacked up that I'd done it. 500 metres and I'd done it.
I saw people cheering. I saw it through the tears welling up in my eyes. My legs saw to it to provide me with my best sprint and we ran like we had wings.
We did. Dad's.
I am so grateful for the support of all my friends who have cheered me on and sponsored me on this adventure. I will never be able to repay the gratitude to my niece and brother in law who not only watched Rukai while I trained and while I ran but managed to capture what are very very precious moments for me on film.
A few months ago I saw Cancer's horrendous power take my Dad. This morning I ran my ass off to try and help take just a little bit of that power away.
As they say, there is strength in numbers. Between hundreds of us there that day maybe, just maybe, we will have done just that.
*Cancer Research UK's Race for Life 2013, Finsbury Park, North London