An October marathon date means that the training distances increase quite significantly over the summer - whatever the weather, and wherever you are. Is it worth it - all for one long run around London?

I think it's fair to say that there's a good dose of self discipline required to drag oneself out of bed early in the morning to get outside when it's cold, dark and probably wet (for winter training, such as in February 2020), but it's also fairly hard to convince oneself that a 'run in the sun' is going to be fun: as soon as it is light and the summer sun is up, the temperature can start to climb pretty quickly too, and - when coupled with high humidity - the heat can make conditions hard going. It is, however, a real treat to get out early when the weather is fair, and the sea and sky provide a fresh masterpiece each and every day - God's handiwork.

Rustington seafront on an early summer morning

The UK heatwave in July fell in part whilst I was on the road hosting my colleague Victor (Eurasia Ministries Director) on a brief visit to the UK, during which we visited several supporters around the UK. It was wonderful to see how people engaged with him as they were able to hear firsthand how the work in Ukraine and Russia in particular has been impacted by the war since February. I managed to fit in a 23km run around Scorton in Lancashire before (a generous) breakfast on the Saturday morning, after which we drove via Grange-over-Sands up to Keswick, before spending the night in Penrith. We covered a lot of miles (by car) over those four days; there were many fruitful and encouraging conversations.

A welcome breakfast after a 23km run!

Shortly after returning to the south coast, I had to head back up to Keswick where I was exhibiting with a Feba stand at the annual 'Keswick Convention'. We've attended each year since 2014 with the exception of the past two COVID-affected years; it is a great opportunity to meet with existing supporters as well as meeting new people, and it is always a joy to get to the Lake District. The days on the stand can be long and tiring - not finishing until after 10.00pm, but the training plan knows no mercy and therefore more early morning alarms were required! When at home, I do appreciate the coastline and nearby South Downs - I really do, but I think the sheer splendour and majesty of the Lake District are hard to beat: it's hard to know when / when not to take a photo for fear of missing that perfect snap! One of the things I enjoy most about getting out for a run is being able to explore trails in the countryside rather than plodding on pavements, and you're spoilt for choice around Keswick.

Breathtaking scenery of the Lake District

The hills in the Lakes are obviously more dramatic than the Downs, which makes not only for stunning views but also some challenging running. Planning routes is important in order to ensure that the right balance of distance and elevation is achieved - not wanting to tire excessively from the climbing, when the goal at the moment is to cover the kilometres/miles. In the last two weekends of July, my long runs were 26km and 29km respectively, with total ascents of 174m and 284m. Both went reasonably well - as did my midweek runs (i.e. Tue/Wed/Thu), and I'm ahead of my training plan by a couple of weeks, which all helped build my confidence...

The Cape Town marathon consider running not one but two marathons in October! I had a trip to South Africa already in the diary - to attend the annual meeting of our international association, and discovered that it coincides with the Cape Town Marathon on 16th October. After a little research and some thought, it seemed that it might just be possible to complete both London and Cape Town - only two weeks apart from each other! The course includes views of Table Mountain and the coast, so should be quite impressive. I will need to be careful/sensible and see how I recover from London, and will have to take Cape Town more steadily, but - theoretically - I should be fit enough in general terms, so long as I don't sustain any injuries between now and then.

It's official: I'm aiming to complete both London and Cape Town marathons!

Having achieved the virtual marathons in April and October 2020, there was a part of me that wanted to make 2022's effort a bit more of a stretch than a single event: given that I am seeking sponsorship again, I felt I should push myself a bit further - to aim for something that I honestly don't know I'll be able to attain, that requires some real commitment and determination. The training is physically and mentally tough - and the actual event(s) even more so, but I'm inspired to keep going by the fact that I'm raising funds for Feba's work. I'd be really grateful if you could possibly support my efforts please - whatever you can contribute would be greatly appreciated, but I do understand that you might not feel able or inclined to do that.

So, just as in 2020, I'm aiming to do a spring and autumn marathon this year - but this time in two different hemispheres and only a fortnight apart rather than having five months to recover/prepare!

Whether or not you choose to sponsor me, thank you very much for taking time to read, and for your kind words of encouragement and prayers too. I can assure you that I'll keep going - and will update you again at the end of August if not before.

To sponsor Bob's double Marathon efforts, please click here

To read more blog posts about his preparations, please click here

Banner image: Sussex summer countryside - Ferring Rife