….8 years on from losing Lloydy and 1 year after the first (somewhat unexpected success of) The Blacksheep Marathon I made my way to Edale for the second running of an event that I had dubbed to my partner in crime John Nicholson as ‘lacking in longevity’ due to the sheer mentally demanding nature of the challenge. How wrong I was!
So where do I even begin? Saturday 15th June 2019 was spent in the company of 34 incredible humans on one of the toughest mental and physical challenges out there, paying tribute to a man they never knew.
Why? I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer that other than to guess that the way my little brother lived his life, always striving to be the best he could be, no matter the obstacles in his way, has had an impact on some of the wonderful friends I’ve gained since losing him.
I set off from home with my good buddy Alex, just after 4am arriving in Edale not long after 6, people had already arrived and some were already on the hill. At this point I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to John Ridgers and the Gone Tabbing guys who have unequivocally supported this event and me (over the years) and that was backed up once again with an incredible showing from the group on the day.
It’s very hard to help people understand how mentally tough this challenge that John Nicholson created is. A marathon is tough enough as an endurance event for most, but you add 20 monotonous reps of ‘Jacobs Ladder’, 500ft and half a mile up, 500ft and half a mile down with the 3 miles to and from the Ladder even and you have to question your sanity. However, that’s what makes it beautiful, it’s purity as a test of mental and physical endurance and it attracts my kind of people.
I’ve noticed since kind of taking my foot off the ‘competitive’ nature of events that I’m chomping at the bit, especially now with the condition I’m in. I’m like that when I MST for Immediate Action Fitness events and this was no different. It was tough having to stop myself whilst everyone was beasting themselves up and down that hill, to not get drawn in. The purpose for me on the day was just to make sure that morale stayed high and that we kept everyone safe out there, although it didn’t stop me firing out a quick five hill reps, one of which will live with me for a very long time thanks to Handsome Bob!
The biggest thing I will take from the day is the sheer joy that people carried with them, despite the hurt and at times suffering they were experiencing. You see those first few reps pass quite quickly and very happily and then you watch as steadily that resilience has to kick in, and those grins become grimaces until a word of encouragement sparks a smile and pushes those chests out and with lighter feet more reps get ticked off. I’ve seen resilience in action, I’ve had to be resilient, it’s a mindset you develop quite quickly when you’re well outside your comfort zone, otherwise you perish, seeing people not only conquer this challenge but themselves was something truly special and so inspiring.
The premise of the event really, as much as it is to try and achieve the Marathon distance, is to just see how many reps your can get done, before your body says I’m done. Seeing guys hit 7 reps and then going for an 8th to celebrate #8ForLloydy was truly heart warming and filled me with so much pride to witness.
To be honest I want to keep this one short, the event was a truly special one, taken on with all the ethos of what makes this group special and every bit of why it is what it is and what it’s become for the reason it was created in the first place. You all did my little brother proud.
John Nicholson without you, none of what was achieved would have been possible. You created something special. Matt, Steve & Lesley thank you for your dependability, again the day wouldn’t have been possible without you all.
Julie, Barrie, Christine, Andrew, Mick, Danny, Callum, Jim, Brian, Jenny, Neil, Jon Proctor, Saul Williams, Handsome Bob, John O’Boyle, John Dunkley, Darren Roberts, Duncan & Boys, Sarah Harris, Marie, Paul, Alex, Terri Ellam, Kim to be inspired is great, to be inspiring is incredible.
Because of you, this event lives on as does my little brothers name, as I said at the start of this post, how wrong I was! Thank you all for leaving no trace except awesomeness. See you all on 13th June next year!
Big love to each and every one of you for making The Blacksheep Marathon something that I will remember for the rest of my days, you will never know what it truly means to me to honour my little brother in the way you all did.
HOPE & PRIDE 💙❤️