It’s 86 days to the Lakeland 100 and the South Cheshire 20 in cold, wind and rain on Sunday took me to 338 miles in the first four months of the year. I’ve got to do 1,674 more.
I was in the area, just across the county border in Stoke-on-Trent, for the anniversary of my dad’s death. Florence Bowls Club, where he was an active member for the best part of 20 years, had organised the Florence Classic Ken Platt trophy in his memory. The competition attracted some of the best bowlers in the midlands and north west and herculean efforts to clear the greens of water meant the final could go ahead despite the floods. The day started with a moving speech by a club organiser and 30 seconds applause for my dad and finished with another moving speech by my brother and the presentation of the trophy and cash award to the winner. We raised £201.20 in a raffle and collection for Whizz-Kidz.
The day after, still tired from Sunday’s 20-miler, which I’d done on the back of a 13-mile training run and 5k handicap race on the Saturday, I stayed at my mum’s so that she wouldn’t be on her own after all the emotion of the bowls competition. At 1am the phone rang. It was my cousin Dianne, saying her mum – my aunt – had taken a turn for the worse in hospital following a stroke. Dianne was coming straight up to Stoke from London but meanwhile her dad – my dad’s brother – was on his own. I rushed over to the hospital to be with him but arrived just after my aunt had died. You don’t get many brothers closer than my dad and uncle, and you don’t get many couples happier than my uncle and my aunt. For him to lose them both within a year of each other is especially cruel.