I can now honestly say that I have run in one of the world's toughest road races - the Brathay 10in10. This is 10 marathons in 10 days over a demanding Lake District course.
Having only run one marathon in my life - even in training - I did not know how I was possibly going to manage 10 marathons in 10 consecutive days over such an arduous course, particularly with a painful calf muscle injury. I had completed over 1,000 miles in training, which was tough, particularly during the winter weather. But I was absolutely determined to beat this one.
There were dark moments along the way. But we had a fabulous support team led by the wonderful Aly Knowles and all the messages of encouragement (and the generous donations) that continued to flood in kept me going when it might have been easier to quit. There was one song in particular that kept leaping in to my head during the darker times - and some of the sheep even got to hear a strange rendition from this passing excuse for an athlete:
When you walk through a storm hold your head up high and don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm there's a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark
Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain, though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart and you'll never walk alone, you'll never walk alone.
I achieved something I shall always remember with pride and along the way I met some very special people. I finished last of the 14 runners who competed in this epic challenge, but I only ever wanted to complete the event - the time and position were irrelevant. The final results can be seen at bit.ly/1kaHvUS and the video updates (including my tearful finish) can be seen at bit.ly/Ri1Hs7.
A big thank you to all who have sponsored me very generously already. It really helped to motivate me through some difficult (and painful) times. Your continued support has been hugely appreciated as I have been attempting to raise funds for two fantastic and very needy causes:
The Brathay Trust is a fabulous charity with a mission to improve the life chances of disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people. It's a charity that makes a real improvement and it has the research to prove what a difference it makes, not only to the children but also to their families and communities
The Udaan School in Mumbai offers children life-changing opportunities. It provides an education that would otherwise not be available. Without the opportunities provided by the Udaan School the boys and girls would end up on the streets or in very low-paid hard manual work or married off by the age of 13. The school provides a chance for these children to realise their dreams and leads to jobs and career opportunities, such as teaching, that would be otherwise impossible.
The full day-to-day report by Charles Cowling can be found here