7 May 2011 – Belfast Marathon
So, we did it. Three marathons in just over three weeks. The best of three was the final one, the Belfast Marathon. You go up the Falls and down the Shankhill. The climb up the Antrim Road over 5 miles of continual incline. And return to sea level in the space of 2 miles. You run alongside a motorway, passed an airport, through the docks and around leafy suburbs. It was brilliant. We didn’t break five hours but the sense of achievement reduced me to tears nonetheless.
I have now run five marathons. I only ever wanted to run one. I have learnt more determination in the last few weeks than in the previous 40 years. I am not an athlete. I’m not even particularly fit. I am just dogged and I have the support of wonderful people. It was tremendous seeing so many of my family and friends at different points of the run. It made a huge difference.
But now to other projects. Tomorrow 80 ladies will run the Glasgow women’s 10k wearing the vest of the Wobbly Williams TryAthletes. We have a fantastic reaction and will obtain some great press coverage and increase awareness again. We will have one of the biggest teams in the women’s 10k and our aim is to have the biggest of all next year. We have some momentum and we have the best people possible to keep the momentum going.
Tomorrow is a whole new ballgame for us. We have been donated money to cover the cost of overheads and we’re using some of that to have a place in the charity village and distribute flyers to try and recruit more TryAthletes and raise awareness of the Funding Neuro charity further. The charity is structured such that all the overheads are covered by sponsors so that all the money donated through fundraisers goes to research projects. Nothing that is donated is spent on running costs, travel etc.
Tonight I’m going to Burntisland to a Funding Neuro ball which has been organised by a local fundraiser. It is amazing what people are doing for this fledgling charity. We’re going to try and raise £500,000 over the next 18 months to 2 years to fund part of the GDNF trial and the chemotherapy trial being conducted by Prof Gill at Frenchay hospital in Bristol.
The Scottish elections ballot paper revealed a party I hadn’t heard of before, The Pirate Party. They are campaigning on copyright and piracy issues. The thought occurred to me that we should enter the elections under a Pirates for Parkinson’s banner. It is established fact that the incidence of neurological disorders has increased as the number of Pirates on the high seas has decreased meaning that the pirate life is truly neuroprotective and we should campaign for the legalisation of living your life as a pirate. It could save the country millions. A new political movement has been born.
14 May 2011 – Headlines
I’m still sore. Two weeks after the Belfast Marathon, the aches and pains are still there, with the result that I haven’t been out for a run. I haven’t abandoned my marathon training entirely, I am sticking to the high-fat diet of takeaways and meals out. It would not be sensible to make such a drastic lifestyle change as eating healthily because I’m not running. These things have to be phased in. I have put on about a stone in weight. The running regime will recommence this week.
I was planning to take a month off and pick it up again in June, but being the media tart that I am when jogScotland e-mailed me to say that Sky Sports were interested in covering the Wobbly Williams story as part of their Edinburgh marathon coverage, who was I to say “No, I’m not running and I refuse to be on television”. For the greater good of mankind I will selflessly get out of my scratcher next Sunday at ungodly hour for a live television interview at 7:45 on Sky Sports. Probably Sky Sports 4. On the red button. A timeslot normally reserved for television shopping programs featuring Nick Knowles selling a mandolin which can not only slice tomatoes into transparently thin slices but, by rotating through 180 degrees and connecting to the attachment (which is free today only), can be used to cut the grass. I feel it would be cruel to the Sunday morning your to switch on the television expecting to see Nick’s permatan, only to be faced with my peally-wally face. I think I might apply some wood stain on Saturday night.
In preparation for the program, Sky came round to the house to interview me and a few of the TryAthletes (Alan, Matt and Adele). The interview was conducted by Bryan Burnett, a BBC Scotland radio presenter and runner. After the interview we needed a bit of open space to do some filming and the two obvious candidates were Douglas Park Golf Club and Glasgow Golf Club. Given that Alan had brought Mr Jelly with him, an outfit which would test the relaxed of dress codes, we decided to go to Douglas Park. Glasgow Golf Club would have required Matt to wear a shirt and tie underneath Mr Jelly, and trainers on the 18th fairway would simply not be acceptable. Douglas Park takes a more pragmatic view and positively welcomed a man in a pink raspberry suit cavorted in the bunkers.
The women’s 10k was great fun. The Miss Scotlands were good fun and smiled continually. Until half an hour before the race when the organiser came over to me and said “where are their numbers?”. “Ouch” I thought. Rather inconveniently I had forgotten to enter the beauty queens in the race. Given that the Miss Scotland awards are sponsored by The Sun, a newspaper which can deliver death blows to the incompetent, this was not a good mistake to have made. The headline flashed before my eyes:
“Parkie Misses Chance to Enter Miss Scotland Hopefuls”
However, what on the face of it appeared to be a disaster turned out to be a great stroke of luck. The girls, and Mr Jelly, joined the back of the field without being accosted by any of the over-officious neds dressed in yellow coats which these events attract, and completed the run. Because they didn’t have numbers on, the TryAthletes logo and sponsors branding were not obscured, and were plastered all over The Scottish Sun. Jeff Edwards, the owner of sponsor Enovate, thought he had won the lottery. It is unlikely Jeff will ever get to nuzzle into the belly button of Miss Scotland so seeing his logo do exactly that was an excellent second best.
The Miss Scotland’s were only a fraction of the team of TryAthletes that came out in the rain last Sunday. In total 81 girls pulled on the Wobbly Williams shirt, about 30 of them running in their first 10k. It was a truly gargantuan effort and one that made me feel ecstatic and humble in equal doses. Last night the TryAthletes were finalists in the Daily Record Our Heroes awards. Given that we were up against a 16-year-old boy with no hands who is going to be at the Olympic Games next year as part of Britain’s Paralympic table tennis team, I knew we wouldn’t win, but it was still a magnificent honour for the team to be shortlisted.
We need to improve our gong winning ratio, we have been nominated for three and only picked up one. It is a bit reminiscent of my record at the European patent office in which I have a record of two wins and three defeats in hearings for patent cases. Not as bad as one of my colleagues who is known as Ryanair because he has lost around 80% of his cases.