Marks 1 Mile Challenge…….completed!!
For those who have been following my friend Mark’s story, yesterday was a big day for him. It was the 1 mile event organised for the Robin Hood weekend of running. For Mark it was an epic challenge in so many ways. Mark is a wheelchair user so even getting to the event was going to be a new experience as he’s never travelled that far in his electric wheelchair. I didnt feel it was right to take a manual one as I wanted him to be as independent as possible for the whole day. I was slightly nervous about the journey itself as travelling with someone who uses a wheelchair poses issues that we able bodied folks dont even consider. Things like kerbs and steps become an issue but thankfully the local pavements are fairly well suited for those who use wheeled carriages. Being able to get the tram straight through to the meadows was brilliant and access at that end to the race village posed no issues at all.
Mark was incredibly nervous and I felt it for him. This was such a big challenge for him in so many ways and I could see what it meant to him. When we got to the race village the team from Virtual Runner were there and made Mark feel really welcome. He was given a t-shirt, a number and we had a team photo.
We headed to the start and a journalist from the evening post wanted to interview Mark about his story. He proudly showed them his picture he carries of when he was 4 stone heavier. There were a few waves going off before Marks so we watched and I could tell he was getting more nervous. Its hard to reassure someone who has never, ever been in any situation even remotely close to the one he was currently in but I tried my best. Finally it was time to line up on the start and we were off. Mark’s goals for the event where to walk over the start and finish line and do as much walking as he could inbetween. He later told me he’d been worried that his back would begin to hurt as this is where he had been effected by his cancer. As we set off he set a steely look of determination on his face. It was great to have barriers along the route as he could use his stick and the barrier for a bit of extra support. We steadily made ground chatting about how proud his parents would have been if they were still alive to see him.
Mark had only walked about 100 metres in total whenever we left the gym so I wasnt sure how much walking he’d actually do. So I was absolutely blown away that he managed a huge chunk of walking. He had 3 sit downs in his chair and I pushed him maybe 150 metres each time. We planned to approach the last 100 metres in his chair then he could walk the last bit over the finish line. As we approached the finish line the crowd were cheering his name and shouting words of encouragement. He had said he didnt want to get emotional but I could see he was welling up. He dug deep though and walked across the finish line, even giving the announcer a high five.
He got his medal and I gave him a huge hug and I could feel him shaking. He was so proud of himself and kept saying he couldnt believe he’d done it. More photos followed and we headed for a well deserved ice cream.
One of the things that Mark mentioned was how friendly everyone was and I am really proud to say that I am part of a hugely supportive running community. The team at VR are amazing and I know Susan works really hard supporting runners of all abilities. Its never about smashing times but about being a better you and achieving your own goals.
Mark has done something he thought he would never achieve and hopefully this will give him confidence in other areas of his life. He’s already talking about doing something else and I am super proud of his determination to be a better ‘him’.
Well done Mark and a huge thank you to the fab team at Virtual Runner and the Robin Hood Mile event