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I was 95 miles into my run and had been up for 26 hours. So far my journey had been less than pleasurable. The weather was awful, the route in some places treacherous and more than anything, it was lonely. Out of everything I had previously been through on this journey, it was the lack of human interaction that I missed the most. I couldn’t even check my Grindr in case it ate up too much of my battery power (I think that should have been the real challenge. 60 hours without Grindr). But this was soon to change. It was 7am on Saturday and I was on my way to my next check point, Marlow. I couldn’t wait to get there as my support team were going to be there. This will be the first time I would have stopped and chatted to anyone for a decent amount of time. I couldn’t wait!
I left Reading at 7am and carried on from where I left off. I felt refreshed and raring to go. It was a bit chilly, but I didn’t mind too much. Mainly because I was in a set of clean clothes and it had stopped raining (about bloody time). About half an hour from when I set off, I got a phone call from BBC Radio Berkshire. Now would be a good time to tell you, that from the Thursday I travelled up to Kemble for the start of the run, I had been doing radio interviews with BBC Radio Berkshire. On the Thursday and Friday, I did a piece with the legend that is Tony Blackburn and on the phone this time, was Paul Ross. Now, I’m actually pretty good on the radio. I’m funny, charming and witty (or that’s what I tell myself at least); but I had never done a radio interview at 7:30 in the morning whilst not having slept for over 26 hours. All I can say is, I must have come across so stupid.
I was trying so hard not to say something rude or inappropriate (it was early morning and the beeb) that would get me in trouble. I heard it back a few days later and it actually wasn’t that bad. The piece was about what I was doing and why and then it was to be followed by a weather forecast for my whole route whilst in the Berkshire area. Well the day started off so well, it was only a matter of time before something came along to ruin it. The weather was going to start off clear and sunny, but by midday there was heavy rain predicted, which would last until about 4pm. Well that’s just frigging great! That’s the exact time I’m doing a 4 hour stretch of my journey.
After the interview I carried on up the river, passing some beautiful places, Sonning, Lower Shiplake and even Henley on Thames. Henley was a fantastic place and had a great charm to it. I really wished I could have stayed a bit longer in Henley, but I wanted to make the most of the daylight and dry weather, so I ran straight through and before I knew it, at 11:30, I was in Marlow. I think I found the place where I want to live. This is quite possibly the nicest place on earth. Not only is it scenic (the bridge alone is worth a visit) with a great sporting legacy (I saw rowers. Lots of stunning rowers), but the people of Marlow are so welcoming and hospitable.
I arrived slightly earlier then I had planned to, so decided to shop for a pair of gloves whilst in the area (I had left mine at the hotel restaurant in Reading). I went into a local charity shop to buy some, when I got chatting to these 2 ladies that work there. They were so amazed by what I was doing, that they donated £10 there and then to BBC Children in Need and then offered me a cup of tea and a slice of cake! Now when does that ever happen anywhere else? Then one of the ladies made a quick call to their local radio station, Marlow FM, to let the show’s producer know what was happening, at which stage, she handed the phone over and I was doing a local radio interview. After a little natter with tea and cake, I headed off to meet my friends at the Marlow Bar and Grill. Now I had chosen this place because it was the first place to show up on my google search of bars in that area and I have to say, I’m glad I did choose the Marlow Bar and Grill.
Every single member of staff we encountered there were just so incredibly nice and they were all genuinely happy to have us there. The manager was even kind enough to bring out a platter for us so we all had something hot to eat. I was amazed by the level of hospitality. But the best part for me was seeing my friends Stuart, David and Matt. For the first time in 30 hours, I had seen people who I knew and who I could properly talk to. It was amazing. For the first time since I had set off, I felt happy. I had this new burst of energy stream through me. I was telling them everything that had happened and what was still to come. I was in my element. But the talking couldn’t go on forever as we had business to take care of. We had Pudsey with us! We took Pudsey down the High Street in Marlow where he greeted loads of fans, both young and old. It was actually a great sight to see. After about 15 minutes, I had to leave the guys and head off to Maidenhead, where I was to meet them all again in 4 hours time. Yes, this was the stretch of the run through the dreaded rain Paul Ross had told me about.
I left the beautiful town of Marlow and headed along the river. Again I was awe struck by how beautiful this part of the world is. I can’t believe I’ve lived in London for over 10 years and have never even ventured out here. The silly thing is, it’s only about an hour by train. I was crossing through some fields in my waterproofs, sheltering myself from a light drizzle that had started. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I carried on walking, when I noticed that I had to go through a field that was full of cows. But even worse than that, there were 2 bloody cows right in front of the gate I needed to go through!
I’m pretty sure cows aren’t high up on the world’s most deadly animals, but they’re big. I mean, really big. I had no idea what they do when people get too close to them, so I slowly walked towards them, making sure not to make any sudden movements and not to make eye contact in case it freaked them out. Now, to a local, I most probably looked like a right douche, but I honestly didn’t know what the right thing to do was. Luckily, I managed to survive this life threatening ordeal and made it through. Once again, I was on the move. I was feeling quite spritely, so decided to jog this part to make up some time. I was getting swept up in the scenery, and before I knew it, I was entering Maidenhead. I was only about 10 minutes from my next check point and was nearly an hour early! This was great, but as I got to the check point, I felt my knees starting to go. That gentle jog had pushed me a bit too much.
I arrived at Jenner’s Riverside Café in Maidenhead and met up with my team, Stuart, David and Matt. They had walked about a mile to get to the café and said that the town was virtually empty. We spoke to the staff and they said that when it rains, there’s hardly anyone about. This would explain why we were the only ones in the café at this time. I was talking to the owner who told us that in the summer, the place is heaving. I could really believe that as the location is great and it has something for all the family. Then the owner went on to tell us how he’s the Mayor of Royal Windsor and Maidenhead…yes…that’s right. The Mayor! I had a great chat with him and we got his official support from the mayor’s office. How cool is that?!
But after the pleasantries, I needed some medical attention. One of the guys on my support team, David, is a nurse and had brought along with him some medical supplies to be on the safe side (my first aid box consisted of Snickers bars and compeeds). I had suffered some soft tissue damage around my ankles and my knees. This run was slowly taking its toll on me. After I had some lunch and some warm drinks, I set off for the next stop. Windsor & Eton.
It was 4pm and my next stop in Eton was only 2 miles away. I had planned to do this leg of the run in 4 hours, so I had plenty of time to get there. Again, the houses along this stretch of the river were just stunning. In the space of about 10 hours, I had seen so many houses that I want to buy! Going along the route was fine, the rain had stopped, and the wind had died down. The conditions were pretty good. But there were 2 issues. Firstly, the ground was soggy and covered in puddles and mud. My feet were getting soaked and this could be bad. Secondly, my knees were in great pain. I could finally feel the strain and it wasn’t pleasant, I can tell you. And then the darkness crept in. This wasn’t as bad as before as there was a main road running not too far from the Thames Path, so there weren’t really any scary noises coming from the bushes, plus there was always a touch of light streaming through the trees from the street lamps.
I felt a lot safer this time round than how I did running through towards Oxford, that’s for sure. I came up towards Eton and had to swing on to the main road to get to my next stop, The George Inn. Again, this was a quaint little town that had a lot going for it. I met up with my support team and Pudsey, and we decided to take a stroll around Windsor. We had such a great time and Pudsey was definitely the star attraction that night. Everywhere we went people were stopping and wanting their picture taken with him. People were stopping in their cars to throw in some change to our collection buckets. It was great. And the children just loved seeing Pudsey out on a Saturday night. They were so excited and happy, that it really did make me feel like I was part of something special.
After a little walk through Windsor, we headed back to The George Inn, where I stoked up on food and received a bit more medical treatment. This time, it was my ankles. The soft tissue damage was making it difficult to move, so I needed some extra support. At this stage, I could really feel my body trying to tell me that enough is enough. But I had to keep going. I had been going for 36 hours. I had travelled for 121 miles. There was no stopping now. I had to continue. I said goodbye to my friends as I headed off into the dark for the last night time leg of my run. Saturday had been a great day, but then it dawned on me that I was again going to be alone for another 16 hours, most of which will be in complete darkness. This started to get me down. I started to go in to a bad head space. All that mixed with exhaustion is a recipe for disaster. It’s so bad, that it nearly caused me to give up. Read about the final leg of my journey next week.
There is still time to sponsor me and show your support for BBC Children in Need by going to the following link: www.justgiving.com/Daniel-Lynch6