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You can read Part 1 of the 184 mile journey for Children in Need here.
So far on my epic run from the Source of the Thames to the Thames Barrier for Children in Need, I had encountered torrential rain, gusty winds, electricity pylons, a bull in a field and even quicksand! The first 25 miles of this run had pretty much dampened not only my clothes, but also my spirits.
I was in Lechlade-on-Thames and saying to myself “why am I doing this? It’s just ridiculous”. But then you stop and realise, I’m only putting myself through about 3 days of hardship and pain. 3 days is nothing when you compare it to some of the things that many children have to go through day in and day out in their lives.
I remember reading a story on the Children in Need website (www.bbc.co.uk/pudsey) about this young girl who had tragically lost her older brother whilst he was on a school ski trip and how one of the great charities Children in Need supports helped her to cope with her grief and loss. This was something she would have to live with and remember for the rest of her life. Then there was another story of a young girl who was in a house fire where she lost her father and received 60% burns herself. She had to have both hands amputated and her leg. When I looked at the bigger picture, I realised that yes, what I was doing was something a bit silly and that it was going to push me to the edge, but it was only going to be for three days. After that, I go back to my usual life in London, where I’m fortunate enough to have pretty much everything going for me. These young children, and many more like them, have to deal with these things for the rest of their lives. For them, I’m more than happy to put myself through this ordeal. Especially if what I’m doing can help make their lives that little bit better.
After I had given myself a little pep talk, I set off from Lechlade-on Thames to Oxford. This was the longest stretch of my journey, 33 miles. I didn’t really see that as the issue though. What I saw as a problem was the fact that it was 4:30 and I was 4 hours behind schedule AND it was getting dark. Really dark. In this part of the world, it’s all countryside. As soon as I left the comfort of tarmac roads and street lights, I hit the fields with only my head torch and moon to provide light. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t looking good.
To make up for the lost time, I knew I was going to have to run, or at least do a gentle jog. But how could I do this when going through soggy fields which had trip hazards at every turn? I was trying, but in the end had to resort to walking at a fast pace. As much as I wanted to pick up the pace, I knew that if I was to slip over, there was a strong possibility I could be done for. The path was about a meter wide and there was nothing to stop you falling in to the river. This was potentially dangerous. As I was going along and trying to wonder how I’m going to get through this, I then saw what I can only describe as an old world war 2 bunker in the middle of the field. It was this grey concrete block with a small slit at the top, which I imagine they would poke their guns out of. 2 things crossed my mind at this time. Firstly, were the Cotswolds high on Hitler’s list of places to invade? And secondly, was there something terrifying hiding inside it that was going to kill or possess me? Ok, my imagination was running wild, but this thing looked creepy as. Like Blair Witch creepy. I could actually feel my heart rate increase as I went past it.
Then the noises of nature kicks in. We’re fortunate enough in Britain to not have any dangerous animals. That said, we have some bloody vicious ones that make the most god awful noises you could ever imagine! I was seriously freaking out. Any noise I heard would set me off. I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed to do something to get me out of this environment. I checked over my map and found another route I could take. What I didn’t realise though, was that the new route was actually down a dual carriage way.
I managed to track down a bridle path which led onto a main road, which in turn led to a small village called Farringdon. From Farringdon, I carried on another main road all the way to Botley, then Oxford. Now, this wasn’t going along the Thames Path, but it was going in the same direction and was only a mile shorter than the route I should have taken, but with the extra mileage I did at the start of the day, I was still running more than what I had planned too. But what was really great about this new route was the fact that there were pavements for me to run along, and I mean run. It was great! I could actually make up for my lost time along a route that was lit and where I felt safe. I had managed to arrive in Oxford at 9pm, 2 hours behind schedule. But this didn’t make me feel good.
It had been dark for so long and I had travelled so far, but it was still only 9pm! I had been going for only 15 hours. Yeah, it’s great I made up for 2 hours, but I still had the rest of the night to run. I had about another 9 hours before I was to see sunlight again. So, instead of moaning to myself and getting all worked up, I sucked it in, strapped myself up, and ploughed on. I stuck to the path this time and headed to Wallingford.
At the start of this challenge, I had decided not to take headphones with me to listen to music. The reason behind this is because I knew I was going to have to keep my wits about me if I was to go through the night without having any accidents. I’m not sure if that’s logical or me just being silly again, but I kinda wish I did have my headphones with me. I love to talk and socialise with people, but at this time of night and where I was, there was no one to talk to. I was alone. And I was bored. 2 things which are very dangerous. To make the time pass I decided to go all out crazy. I showed off my party talent to the world…well, at least the world of Oxfordshire.
Now before you set your filthy minds in to overdrive, my party talent is singing (I think it’s a talent, a few other people think it’s abuse). I started to sing songs from Les Miserables. Not just the well known tracks, but the whole show. From start to finish. I was a one man band. Once I had completed Les Mis (and taken my bow), I set to work on my next one man show of… Jesus Christ Superstar! I wasn’t quietly humming the songs or muttering the lyrics under my breathe, oh no. I was full on belting them out. It was magical! The best part is, it actually worked. It took my mind off what I was doing and got me through the night.
I had blitzed past Wallingford and was just about to arrive in Reading… 30 minutes before schedule! This was fantastic! I was over joyed and a tad emotional. I went to my check point at the Crowne Plaza in Reading and met the manager. This guy is now my hero. I told him what I was doing and why and without a moment’s hesitation, he gave me a hotel room key and told me that I could use the bath to freshen up and that he’d get my clothes quickly washed and dried. When I came back down from having an amazing (and much needed) shower, he then escorted me to the restaurant where he had a cooked breakfast waiting for me. This was just what I needed to really boost my morale and set me up for the next day. I was 25 hours in to my run and had travelled 95 miles. I was half way. Things were looking great. Not only that, at my next stop in Marlow, I was going to meet my support team and a very special celebrity. But as this journey has shown so far, nothing goes to plan.
There is still time to sponsor me and show your support by going to the following link: www.justgiving.com/Daniel-Lynch6