25th May 2014 is a date that will be etched on my brain forever. It’s the date I completed one of the most amazing challenges I’ve ever attempted. It’s the day I completed “The Hairy”. I want to tell you about my proudest achievement, 10 years on.

I lost my Dad to cancer in 2013 and later that year, I wanted to do some fundraising for Macmillan in his memory. In order to raise a lot of money, I knew I’d have to do something exceptional. Most people knew me as someone who runs a marathon every year so I knew I would have to do something exceptional. That’s when I decided to take on the greatest challenge I’ve ever done, “The Hairy” at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival.

What’s “The Hairy”?

“The Hairy” is to run all four adult singular races at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival weekend. That’s a 5k, 10k, Half Marathon and Marathon. 4 races in 2 days. The 5k and the 10k were on the Saturday and the Half Marathon and Marathon were on the Sunday. The 5k and 10k on the Saturday were the ‘easy’ ones as they were well enough apart that I’d have around an hour between the races.

The real challenge was on the Sunday as the Half Marathon started at 8am and the Marathon at 10am. Not only that, the finish of each of these two races weren’t in the same place as the start, meaning that I’d have to arrange transport to pick me up after the finish of the Half Marathon and take me back to the centre of Edinburgh to run the Marathon.

After speaking to a few of the guys who had done this previously, I realised that I’d have to race the Half Marathon (finish as close to 1hr 30mins as possible) in order to get back in time for the Marathon. This idea blew my mind but it made me more keen to do it as I knew it would get me right out of my comfort zone.

Unexpected Challenges

Both races on the Saturday went well, I rested up for the rest of the day before getting up on the Sunday to go run the next part. I finished the Half Marathon in 1hr 33mins before literally grabbing my bag and heading to meet my friend Fraser Band, who was waiting with his motorbike. 

We had a few unexpected challenges with hitting heavy traffic and pretty much every set of traffic lights at red on the way back. Unfortunately, the shortest route was the marathon route and so we had to go the long way. By the time we got back to the centre of Edinburgh, it was 15mins after the Marathon had started and so I jumped off the bike and literally sprinted to the start line. They were starting to dismantle all the signage and I had to shout to everyone to make sure the timing mats stayed down until I crossed them otherwise the challenge would be over.

I think they knew I was on my way and were waiting for me but in my head, I had to make sure!

Welcome Distraction

Once I got going, I quickly realised that I didn’t have to race the marathon and ‘all’ I had to do was get to the finish. I could probably have walked it and be fine but that’s not what I wanted to do. My body kept running, as that’s all it had been doing, and the real bonus came at the 21 mile mark.

I ran alongside a guy I recognised from the gym I was based in and he told me he was running his first marathon and was beginning to struggle. I didn’t have the heart to tell what him what I was doing as that would be a real kick in the teeth! We started chatting and it turned out to be a welcome distraction for me too as I all the mileage of the weekend was starting to catch up on me.

Digging Deep

The last 2 miles were the toughest I’ve ever run. I had to dig deep and find ways to keep myself going. It wasn’t that I wouldn’t finish it but my body was screaming at me to stop. Lots of people were cheering me on and that really made a difference. The next thing I knew, I was turning the corner and ahead of me was the finish line. I gave it everything I had left and pushed to the finish line.

There are no words to describe how I felt crossing the finish line, knowing I had completed my goal and I could stop running! The following photo describes my emotions perfectly. Not only had taking on this challenge and completing it made me feel proud, the following photo appeared across the Edinburgh Marathon social media feeds and I became the poster boy for Macmillan the following year.

Start Here | Steve Bonthrone | Anything IS Possible

What things have you done that have made you feel proud? It doesn’t matter how big or small they may seem, tell everyone about them. You never know who you’re inspiring :-)