Hail the heroes!

Glorious views on the Cheddar Marathon

Glorious views on the Cheddar Marathon

I’m feeling a bit tired after completing the scenic but hilly Cheddar Gorge Marathon yesterday. Still I made it in under six hours, so slightly better than Bath three weeks ago.

Both events were put on by Relish Running Races. Both were very well organised; excellent snacks en route including flapjack, bananas and jelly beans; good camaraderie among all the runners; and really friendly, encouraging, efficient marshals.

Marshals are the unsung volunteer heroes of races. They turn out in all weathers, wait at their post for sometimes several hours as runners pass by, they usually offer kind words of support – they enable events like this to happen.

The unsung heroes of life are carers. They can be at their post sometimes 24/7, often putting their lives on hold to support loved ones – they enable others to have a better quality of life, perhaps the greatest gift there is.

At the hotel, the night before the marathon, I met Michelle. She cares 9am to 5pm for her mum and dad, both of whom have dementia. Her dad also has diabetes and is on insulin. She talked about how difficult it is looking after them and how hard she finds it. But she’s committed to doing it for as long as she can.

It’s two years now since my dad was diagnosed with dementia and he’s gradually becoming less able. My mum is effectively his sole full-time carer. I know she finds it hard at times, but she’s doing an incredible job and will keep going as long as she can.

I know quite a few other wonderful people who are carers. They cope with the stresses and strains of their own lives and those they care for, yet they often down play what they are doing and question is it good enough. I’m telling you guys – it is. IT IS. IT IS!!

Our fellow hotel guest Michelle told me several times how brilliant she thought I was for running so many marathons and to raise money for dementia research.

I don’t think that way about myself at all. I’m just doing what I feel I can to help. It is tiring and sometimes challenging, but I am committed to it and hope to keep doing it as long as I can. And like the marshals on the runs, it’s something I’ve voluntarily chosen to do – my choice to spend my time that way.

That’s what makes carers so amazing and special – they give their time and support without the luxury of choice. I doubt they would call themselves this, but they are the REAL heroes.

Finally, on the therapy front, I’m closer to getting rid of my demon. It’s quite mentally challenging, but my therapist is now on holiday, so I’m looking forward to a break from it. And a rest from long runs too – my achy legs need time to recover.

We all need to recharge our batteries to better keep going.


6 thoughts on “Hail the heroes!

  1. Rosemary Bishop

    Well done yet again, I find myself looking forward to the next blog, shant know what to do on Mondays if & when you stop. RB

  2. Cherie Ransom

    Very well done Jo! Cheddar Gorge and Bath are on my ‘to do’ list but they both sound super tough (perhaps I will put them off for a couple of years till the legs are stronger, haha)!! I love the Marshals at running events as they are so encouraging and helpful – eg filling my water bottle up when I am too weak to do it myself and telling me I’m doing well (even though I’ve been going for hours). They are amazing 🙂 Hope those aching legs ease soon and I look forward to your next blog.

    1. Jo Earlam Post author

      Thanks Cherie. It’s strange how you get used to the aches. And it does make resting afterwards a real pleasure. Good luck with your own challenge.

  3. A. James

    I just read your August 19 blog entry and was touched on many levels, as I am a runner; have lost a best friend to dementia; have a friend whose mother is in its grips; and another friend whose son is well down the path to being lost to it. I admire what you are doing and wish you well.

    1. Jo Earlam Post author

      Thank you! Dementia is a terribly cruel disease. Several of my other family members and friends have been affected by it. I’ve always been involved in fundraising on some level and it seems right to now be using the running and writing, both of which I enjoy, to help raise awareness and funds towards research into a cure. It’s great to have so much support from people.


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