Our amazing patron John Reynolds, who completed a record-breaking fifteen back-to-back half marathons beginning last Thursday evening from Glastonbury Tor. He reachedBath Abbey at 9.34 a.m. on Sunday morning, with just ten minutes’ sleep and over 200 miles under his feet. He arrived to a hero’s welcome for the team photograph at the runners’ village before taking part in the Bath Half himself, helping to get the runners he had trained around the course, encouraging them every step of the way.
By Tuesday of last week, John’s epic run looked to be in doubt – after months of planning, the seizures he suffers from in his legs, due to the waste product from radiotherapy, were becoming the most problematic they have been for some time. Miraculously, John was ready to go on Thursday evening, followed by local camera crews who documented the start of his challenge from the Tor.
“All through the area, Bristol and Bath, people were recognising me wherever I went – shouting out and blowing horns, wanting to know how I was getting on. It fuels you up and gives you one heck of a boost, but you need that to make up for the minutes you’ve lost talking about it! But it’s more of a good thing than a bad thing.
“So many people this year were shouting out for me in the crowd at the Bath Half – I spoke to so many of them.
“One lady I met in Dundry turned up at the Castle of Comfort where she knew I would be having a brief break and refuel. She left some money on the table for Time is Precious. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it was £100. Another had put out flags and bunting outside her home in Stratton-on-the-Fosse, which I’d be going through at about 4 a.m. on both days. She had put out a bag of goodies for me – and on the second night, I had found a pen and some paper to write a thank you note. As I put the note in, there was a tapping on the window – she’d been looking out for me and gave me a wave. I met her again at the Bath Half – so many people that were complete strangers are now like old friends.
“I had an incredible support crew who were even waiting for me at around 3.15 a.m. outside the White Post in Midsomer Norton with bacon butties and coffee. With all that eating, I still managed to lose half a stone during the challenge. (John had to consume around 20,000 calories).
“Restaurants were giving us free food along the route – I had bangers and mash on the suspension bridge!
“I also managed a Radio Somerset interview whilst running up Dunkerton Hill and spoke to Ali Vowles from Radio Bristol, too – there was such an amazing amount of support.
“At one point, I thought my phone had converted to morse code, because of all of the pinging it was doing – I could not read or respond to messages as time was so tight, but I am going through every single one of them now – I have around 650 emails to get through!”
John’s sheer determination is remarkable. Having had to retrain himself to walk again after treatment for a thyroid condition and having had serious heart issues, his love of running has quite literally kept him alive. But when faced wtih 200 miles to run, does he ever feel like giving up?
He says: “On the Sunday morning I just couldn’t get any speed up, fatigue had set in and in the early hours it had absolutely poured it down, so I was cold and wet. It was a really hard challenge and I was pushing it to the limit.
“But part of the reason I was doing it was to inspire the other runners and to take their mind off of their own challenge – to show them it could be done. And the faces and the smiles of everyone in the Time is Precious marquee on Sunday made it for me.
Everyone really went for it on the second lap of the Bath Half, and seeing and being part of their sense of achievement is the best feeling in the world.”