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Barry Light's 60th Marathon 'Blog'

WOW Here we go my last blog, for the time being anyway. Apparently according to my Word document draft blog I’ve written a total of 81,624 words over the last year. And, to my amazement I’ve had a few messages from people saying, “Barry we’re really going to miss reading your blogs, what are we going to read now on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays”? Well, I reply, maybe “War and Peace”. Yeah, I know I’m often accused of waffling on occasions but I can’t help myself. People who know me well are aware that I’m normally a shy, quiet retiring person, in a crowd I prefer to listen rather than add my two pennyworth. But when I’m behind a keyboard I find it hard to hold back my emotions – words and phrases come flooding into my head as I try to express myself. Add to that the fact that I’ve been officially diagnosed (if that’s the right term) as dyslexic then you have the right combination for a lot of verbal diarrhoea. Of course spelling and grammar checking tools are a big help when you’re dyslexic these days but even they can droop you in it big time. So it’s nice to have a well-educated partner at your side with a bucket load of ‘A’ levels to proof-read your little gems of wisdom. Each week when I hand over my draft blog to Patsi she reaches for her reading glasses and lets out a groan, I always adapt a gag from comic legend Eric Morecambe - “remember darling, there’re all the right words, but not necessarily in the right order” she groans again!
 
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I digress; get back to the running Barry I tell myself. Yes, folks it’s all over I’ve completed my 60 marathon challenge and I’m black and blue with pinching myself as I can’t really believe I’ve made it and it really is all over. My 60th Marathon at the Littledown Sports Centre on Sunday was an incredible day and another one that I’ll remember for the rest of my life – well until Alzheimer’s kicks in anyway. Friend and club-mate Littledown Harrier, Ade Holloway of ‘Run Yer Socks Off!’ pulled out all the stops to arrange a fabulous day for my family and me. Thanks Ade you’ve helped me out so much during my challenge when others dumped me before I even started – no names no pack drill (I think is the correct phrase to use). Most of you will have heard or even taken part in the inaugural Littledown Marathon on the 17th June. It was run around a measured 1-mile circuit at the back of theLittledown Sports Centre and was a huge success, so much so that it’s happening again this year on Saturday 15th June. The entry limit has been increased to 100 but still best to get your entry in as soon as you can, I’m in and I’m sure it will fill up. Well, some time ago Ade suggested it would be a great venue to run my final marathon and he was spot on. Patsi and I arrived just after 9.00 and Ade and another Harrier, Sarah Siviter, together with Paul Reade from Wessex Autism were there setting up and soon other Harriers started arriving.
 
It was a beautiful morning with the sun shining even though there was a cold wind blowing and I felt nice and relaxed chatting to everyone. We eventually started at 10.15 and I was off to run my last 26.2 miles with a bunch of guys and girls including two of my best supporters Helen Ryder and Dave Randall. The first few laps seemed to pass by really quickly and it was great seeing Patsi, my daughter Lussi and little Thomas every 9 or 10 minutes. I could also see that gradually more people were arriving and other runners were joining in to run with me, Including Roger Hays all the way from Newton Abbot in Devon. Roger was later to present me with a sponsorship cheque for £300 from the Teignbridge Trotters, £5 for each of the marathons I had run – cheers all you cute little trotters! Also joining in were some guys who I hadn’t met before like Howard Lewis of Poole Runners who later sponsored me for £60 – thanks Howard. The time seemed to be flying by and before I knew it I had reached halfway in about 2:12, much faster than I had anticipated. By now other Littledown Harriers were also joining in after running the Lytchett 10 earlier in the morning and it was amazing running through the finish area with everyone cheering as the laps were counting down. With about 10 laps to go I was running along the back straight and I heard music blaring out from the cricket pavilion. I thought blimey they’ve cranked up Lussi’s CD player it’s gonna blow up! Only to realise as I approached the cricket pavilion that there was a guy with a guitar and enormous speakers, bloody hell it was Neil Diamond singing  ’Forever in Blue Jeans’ yes it was one of Ade’s many surprises of the day, how the hell did he manage to book Neil Diamond? And who was paying him? Next lap would you Adam and Eve it there was David Bowie singing ‘Starman’. I thought all we need now is Tom Jones to make an appearance and blow me as I ran past next time with 8 laps to go, there he was singing ‘Delilah’. Yes, Phil Lowen can impersonate them all, he really rocks and had come along to entertain us free of charge – cheers Phil, you’re a real Rock Star! He continued with songs like ‘Keep on Running Barry’ and ‘Sweet Sixty’ Phil’s a great singer and will be appearing at the Littledown Marathon – check out his website here www.phillowen.com Martin and Liz Yelling arrived with little Ruby to cheer me on, no Liz wasn’t going to run with me it was very muddy in places and it would have ruined her high heels.
 
With just a couple of laps to go the funnel of people on the finish line was building and so was the cheering as I ran through, I was starting to be all overcome with emotion although I was trying not to show it. On the last lap Patsi joined in with Thomas in the buggy. It was almost just like the way it had started all those marathons ago, I was incredibly happy and incredibly sad at the same time if that’s possible. Happy that I had made it to the end, but sad that Henry, little Elsie and our other daughter Karleh couldn’t have been with us to join in the celebrations today. They now live in Australia and couldn’t visit, they have their own lives to live and I have to accept that we will not be able to see them very often – but I like to think they were with us in spirit. We crossed the line with party poppers going off and everyone cheering, it was a fantastic feeling. I had done it and completed the challenge I set out to accomplish, I couldn’t quite believe it. Ade had more surprises up his sleeve including a specially printed T-shirt with “I’ve Completed 60 Marathons in 60 Weeks at 60 Years… 1,572 miles…” then on the back “…and I’m Knackered!!” Also a large cake he had made. He then read out all the 60 marathons I had completed while kids burst balloons to represent each marathon. Then Martin Yelling said a few words and read out a text message of congratulations that he had received from Eddie Izzard – in 2009 Eddie ran 43 marathons in 51 days, bloody awesome! I then popped a bottle of bubbly and made a pathetic attempt at a speech before we all started on the food and drink which had been paid for by the Littledown Harriers Committee – thanks everyone for that contribution, much appreciated. It was then time to tidy up and head back to our place for the after party. Needless to say we all had a great time and I finally hit the sack completely exhausted and a little worse for wear.
 
Barry's 60th Marathon pictures
I’m the first to admit that if it hadn’t been for the help of lots of people I’m sure I wouldn’t have made it to today. My family have given me love, support and made sacrifices so I could succeed and family life has suffered because of that. Not to mention the financial cost involved which has been a lot more than I budgeted for. My main focus now is to make up for all that so therefore running, especially running marathons, will have to take a back seat for a while. But fear not folks, Barry aka 60 marathonman the blogger will be back – so watch this space! http://60in60at60.com/
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