Cheese alert: this is where I come over all sentimental, gushy even. It is my Sally Field, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet moment.
Before I head off on my epic adventure at the end of the world I want to say thank-you for all of the support that I have had so far.
Firstly I want to thanks my sponsors and partners large and small.
Askharad was the first partner to come on board with a generous cash donation towards the costs. This made the dream a reality. Also the supporters who provided smaller cash donations and who are credited on the Partners and Supporters Page.
Gillian and Nadine at Material MC have done a sterling job with the PR and got plenty of press and media coverage for the challenge and fundraising for Alzheimer Scotland.
James at Bene Fit Therapies has provided nutritional advice and developed an excellent nutrition plan for me.
Pamela at Sports Injury Scotland has kept me running injury free with her evil thumbs of steel.
Eugenie at Cirrus Associates for helping review and edit the partner packs and the website copy.
Gary Birnie for the amazing website!
Secondly, I want to say a really big all the individuals for their support. I am truly blessed with an amazing group of friends. I would love to name and thanks all of you individually, but there just is not room to do it. So, here goes and I really hope that I manage to include everyone in some way.
Thank-you to all my fellow runners and the ‘Ultra Dafties’ who have supported, advised, run with me, motivated me and have been my extended family over the last 12 months. Also, the race directors and marshals, especially the SUMS race directors, for all the events I have participated for their encouragement and support and their brilliant events. I have enjoyed every one.
Everyone involved in the Loch Katrine running Festival. I was amazed by the turnout and the goodwill that my inaugural event received. So much so, that the event will take place again in 2014. Most of the marshals and support crew at that event were new to the task and they did a fantastic job, and also thoroughly enjoyed the experience. So much so that some have offered to do it again.
Time to name names now.
Karen & George, thank you for ‘Do Epic Shit’. That has been a bit of a mantra for me this year, and I suspect it will be shouted out across the Antarctic snow. Karen, thank-you for dragging my ‘sorry ass’ along the last stage of The Fling. Boy did I make mistakes that day and I can honestly say I don’t know how I would have finished if it had not been for you. George, you love running mountains but you ran your flattest ever run with me with a total elevation of less than 20 feet: respect.
Emma who ran the first 11 miles of Loch Ness Marathon with me, and whose good company helped make the day special. That last event was a bit of an emotional one and it was really special to share part of the day with you. Allan and Elspeth who accompanied me on my last ultra distance training run and who both did their longest run in a while and I think fair to say banished some demons. It was a great achievement and lovely to share it. They provided good banter and excellent conversation en route too. What more could I ask. I am generally a solo runner and content with my own company, but sometimes you want to share the experience and run with company. This was one of those occasions.
Now for the special ones who may be last but are most definitely not least.
Robin Wombill. My Antarctic Odyssey journey started running the GO33 with you. What a day. I had the demons of 2 consecutive DNFs to banish and just had to finish and get that first milestone under my belt. We finished and we had a blast. It was slow relaxed run, and we chatted (and sniffed) our way round 33 miles. It was a pleasure to share your West Highland Way experiences and little did I know that it was the first step in you taking on the role of sports psychologist. Your support, wisdom and your messages have always arrived just when most needed and hit just the right note. You have also provided a great mantra. So here is a public and really big and heartfelt thank-you.
‘D’: David, an old and special friend. Quite apart from providing me with some truly excellent and entertaining material for my blogs, your gentle teasing and humour has kept me grounded. In a subtle way you have ensured that I questioned, thought through and assessed what I am doing, ensuring that I never take myself too seriously. Then, with absolutely perfect timing, when it really mattered you have provided re-assurance and positive affirmation calming my ‘wobbles’. Not only that, but an amazingly beautiful scarf that seems to have acquired ‘good luck charm’ status. I am now, today, feeling calm, focused and ready. You and Robin have been a pretty powerful double act, as indeed have you and Alasdair.
Before I speak about Alasdair I want to mention my amazing and beautiful daughters who have to put up with this mad, insane Mum. The girls (young women) who now think it ordinary and every day to talk about their mum going to Antarctica, only to then see shocked looks and have to explain the madness. They have also got used to Mum disappearing for hours to run since they were small, and have spent many a long and boring day hanging around events over the years. Often the thought of them smiling and cheering at the finish line has kept me going. Their support is invaluable and much appreciated, as is their great taste in music. They have provided an eclectic collection of music for my Antarctic playlist, which I know will raise my spirits and give me the strength and determination to keep on to the finish. I hope that I have inspired them in some way and shown them that they can achieve pretty much anything they want.
Alasdair, my husband with the patience of a saint, and my support crew stalwart, has accompanied me to almost every event I have done since 1998. You can count on one hand the events that he has not attended. He puts up with my growling, stubbornness and refusal to eat and drink. He has even broken his collarbone for me, when he came off a bike one day at the top end of Loch Katrine while supporting a long training run. Recently he has had to start ‘spotting’ for me when I am weight training, which is no mean feat when you see the weight of barbell that I am squatting. He has poured me into the car and then had to prise me out of the car. He has run countless baths and helped me in and out of them. We have lost counts of the number of massages. He has had to put up with me talking about Antarctica on a daily basis for the last 14 months. And don’t even mention the packing; how I did not end up stuffed in the bag is a miracle and true testament to his patience. The list is endless, and I am high maintenance and hard work. It is often joked that I am the boss in the relationship, but I am not so sure.
Coming back to double acts he and David has been a good double act in keeping me grounded with their humour, but that is not surprising as they have been good friends and sparring partners since school. Alasdair teases less, but has a lovely gentle but very sharp observant wit with perfect timing, and which he uses to great effect. It has kept me on track, stopped me taking myself too seriously, made me laugh and stopped me mid-rant and turned it into giggles. His quiet strength and ability to keep calm is legendary.
This all began with Alasdair, when I ran my first 10k back in 1998 to raise funds for the ward where he was treated. Little did either of us know the passion that it would become or where it would lead us. I don’t think that either of us would have predicted this, and I know that I would not have got this far without him. Alasdair, I know that hearing about Antarctica everyday must have become a ‘groundhog day’ nightmare and you must be dreading dining out on it for heaven knows how long after I get back. I will try to curb my enthusiasm; and I promise to recruit additional support team members and give you some relief next year.