David’s marathon report
We’re hugely proud of our marathon runner and Pegasus parent, David Shorten. He should have been running in the 40th London Marathon for Pegasus on Sunday 26th April but instead he ran it in 134 socially distanced laps of his own garden! His report of the day is below. It’s not too late to support David who hopes to be able to take part in the rescheduled London Marathon in October.
“So finally the day arrived that we had all been training for. For months through the wet and windy winter, runners up and down the country had been slogging for this day. The Coronavirus had put a spanner in the works for sure and many runners have deferred until next year or are still holding out hope of the race taking part later this year in October. For me though, with a garden big enough to support the race, I sensed an opportunity of victory, something I had never imagined possible before.
My main contenders – Kipchoge mainly, but also anybody running under four hours, had all fallen by the wayside. The field was so reduced by self isolation rules that all that remained was my dog Midge who got a late entry, a wasp and two butterflies who had emerged unseasonably early because of the good weather. Shocked by my dogs betrayal I barely slept the night before. I thought the butterflies weren’t serious opposition, but having stood on a wasps nest as a boy and been chased by several of these creatures all at once I knew this was a serious contender. This one in particular was a queen and harassed me by buzzing round my head on the race morning and by landing on my glucose enhanced drinks bottles – and she just stared me down with her compound eyes, clearly a seasoned campaigner.
The course had been laid out carefully – 157m down a track to a tree and 157m back again to the gate. Complete that 134 times and you have got yourself just over a marathon. Throw in a few metres of rise every lap and the extra challenge of climbing Snowdon and descending it was chucked in for good measure. The organisers devised a clever system for lap counting based on species – I had a stone to discard from a bowl for each lap completed so 134 in total, my dog had dog biscuits to eat (I secretly hoped eating this many would slow her down) and the insects had pieces of pollen on top of a flower head. My daughter had a stereo microscope to make sure they took off a single grain at a time.
So at exactly 7am on Sunday morning the race began. Steady, steady slow and steady. That was what I had trained for. I never really considered any other option. The sun hadn’t got high yet – it was cold – so the wasps and butterflies couldn’t even take off. The dog on the other hand took off like it was a sprint and had soon lapped me after just one lap! Steady, steady, slow and steady, don’t deviate from the plan Dave!
Midge then stopped and waited. What the heck was she doing? Bless her she was waiting for me. Years of walking together, sitting together on the sofa, heaven forbid being on the bed sometimes, made her unable to be parted from me! Ha ha! She couldn’t beat me even if she wanted to I mischievously thought to myself. So we carried on together jogging side by side at a steady pace for 3 hours.
I knew it would happen – everyone had talked about when it gets hard towards the end – the gradual slowing, the mind confusing, the self doubt creeping in – nothing that I don’t deal with on a daily basis so nothing out of my comfort zone there! But no one had warned me about the legs! Holy moly what was happening to them?! I couldn’t show anything to the competition – the sun was out and the insects were right back in contention buzzing round my head and Midge was looking strong. But my legs, oh ouch they were starting to hurt big time! My daughter Eve confirmed from the microscope that we were all neck and neck heading into the last quarter of the marathon, but there were still thirty laps – I seriously wondered if I could make it.
At this time messages of support were pouring in from social media – I was at an advantage here as I was the only one with any accounts. A family of friends turned up at a safe distance on bikes to cheers me on – “Go Dave, you can beat an insect – you can do it !”. Ah the pain was disappearing with the support, and then I really focused on all the kids, and the dancing and the acting and the amazing staff at Pegasus and my legs kept moving. And I said to myself ” Dave, Dave – I will not be beaten by a bug!”.
I found my second, third, fourth wind and the last stone was cast back onto the track with only 300m left to go. We were all still in contention. The dog’s tongue lolled and her mad eyes flashed as she tried to keep up, the butterflies were right behind in my slipstream, and the wasp buzzed loudly in my ear. We emerged out of the trees for the last time……
You can’t see it from the photos – but there’s a wasp by my right shoulder, and two Orange Tip Butterflies to my left camouflaged against my race vest, and Midge had gone the wrong way because of a marshalling error. I just felt so happy to have finished and have the support of my family and the odd friend at a safe distance. Nobody could tell who had won. It didn’t seem to matter it was going to be a photo finish. That didn’t seem important anymore.
It was a draw. First in the London Marathons history. I couldn’t believe it. I’m so proud. I will take fifth behind three bugs and dog. It was a better day than I could ever have ever hoped for and I won’t forget it. I want to thank everyone who has supported me in this journey. And thanks to Pegasus for the opportunity to represent them – art, creativity, imagination, youth…it’s what they are all about, it’s what we all need right now.”
Thanks David and well done!