Life lessons: Part I.

by Julian Harriman-Dickinson

I suggested doing the Snowdonia Trail Marathon to a friend of mine, half hoping he would say NO, half hoping he would say YES.

We left the call both of us undecided, then ten minutes later I got an email with his confirmed entry into the race, so subsequently I entered 5 minutes after that. The die had been cast.

I have always run, ever since the age of seven, I can clearly remember the importance of running for me from that young age. When I used to run with the Hash House Harriers (all grown men) when living in Yemen and me a seven-year-old with eyes bigger than my belly.

I have never run a full marathon and never really wanted to, to be honest, I get bored of running on pavements and roads, I find it monotonous, but what does light my fire is running in nature. (No headphones)

I have run about 12 half marathons on roads and was quite happy with that and enjoyed most of them, but they never really inspired me to progress to a full marathon, so kind of fell out of love with running for quite a number of years and just continued going through the motions.

So it was to my own surprise that I had just suggested and agreed to run my first marathon. A marathon with 1,685 meters of ascent over 27 miles of iconic spectacular trails, taking in Wales’ highest peak and visiting Rhyd Ddu, Beddgelert, Nant Gwynant, Pen y Pass along the way. This race (I use that term very loosely) is also recognised as a UTMB qualifying race, so basically it is not for the faint-hearted. The winners complete the race in about 3hrs30mins, with the rest of the 600+ strong field running for up to ten hours to complete the course with a lot of other DNF’s behind them.

For the last 2 years, inspired by lock-down, I have been consistently running more or less every other day, slowly running further and further, now two stone lighter and getting faster as a result, to a level of vague respectability. Subsequently, little by little I have fallen back in love with running, to the point where it has become a necessity.

The run provides solace, clarity, therapy, context, freedom, and the obvious health and mental benefits. I have never meditated, but to me running is my version of it. It is very much about living in the moment, so much so that there is little room for anything else to busy the mind. The trail doesn’t care why you run or how fast you run, that bit is down to you.

Soon to reach my 50th year I felt compelled to mark it with something that quite frankly isn’t easy for me! (I have friends that are ultra-runners who would eat this for breakfast) But for me, this is a BIG challenge and I guess that is the point. I want something that will test me, not only physically but mentally, test my metal. Will I come up short? The way I look at this is the way I look at most things… If it is easy, is it really worth doing it in the first place?

At the time of writing this, I have another 369 days, 12 hours, 20 minutes, and 19 seconds left to make sure I make it as easy as I possibly can do.

“Doing hard things helps you do hard things.
Doing hard things builds respect for yourself”.
David Hieatt.

#dothework #noshortcuts #lifelessons #thetraildoesntcarewhy