This has been the 'FAQ' that I've been asked frequently over the past few months. Even today, someone expressed surprise that I was running not working. Perhaps it's because I'm behind the scenes at many races rather than 'racing', or just my increasing bulk and decreasing speed.
It got increasingly worrying when my sanity appear to be in question, and I spent the winter months thinking hard trying to find a good reason not to take part. I certainly don't want to be the 'fat old git' at the back, arriving late each evening. But I can cope being the slightly fat chap finishing in the middle of the pack. .
There is a bit of a song and dance about me doing a fourth DBR in twenty five years, but I don't see it as a big deal. I'm just lucky that I was around in 1992 (just coming into my fell racing prime, actually) and I'm still active now ...and can get fired up for the right occasion.
Last time, in DBR 2015, someone put a camera in front of me as I trundled South on Day Three.
Q: 'What keeps you motivated?' they asked. My immediate thought was 'wtf' that's a bit of a stupid question and I struggled for a reply. 'er..don't know really..? Somewhere on Youtube there is 27 secs of riveting video.
I trundled on. To be fair, I didn't realise they were filming and I was just in my own enjoyable space and have trouble wasting energy on smiling.
A: But, it is just about keeping moving, and enjoying it. Walking and running down Wales for five days - what's not to like? No laptop, no work commitments, no Wifi - no phone signal. It's not a joke or cliche, I'm looking forward to a holiday.
Q: 'But surely it's a bus men's holiday for you?
A: Maybe. I'm happy to muck in and help with the event team and I'm not tolerant of prima donnas who expect everything done for them, but first and foremost I going to enjoy some 'TFM' and the j-o-u-r-n-e-y! Eek.
I've also been fortunate to spend some quality hill-time out with fellow Dragoneers recently. It's been a pleasure and honour to offer my own advice and support to them but it's two-way street and I've reaped support from them, too. I'm looking forward to spending some quiet time with a few friends, both old and new. but equally so I'm fearful of the hype and egos.
So. no reason not to do it again - I'm not as old as Facebook thinks I am - and twenty-five years is now't. I know of two people who are have done events for 30+ years or more, year in year out. A few years ago, I went to a lecture by a guy who had done every London Marathons. He'd done like 28 at the time, and he was the youngest to do so, so clearly had his sights set on being the 'last man standing'. Generally people were in awe, but I remember asking him, 'Have you ever thought about choosing NOT to do it?' The question led to a uneasy pause in the room.
This 4/4 DBR is nothing special.
Steve Redgrave's five consecutive Gold medals is special Katherine Grainger's Olympic record special too. Casper and Katie's joint BGR is special, and in a DBR context Helene's fourth place in 2012, twenty years on from winning was very impressive along with Jim Mann's run that year.
Q: What changes have you seen over the years?
Not a lot really, The distance and terrain is much the same. There are good mountain running performances from well prepared mountain runners. A growth in the event infrastructure, of course. Sadly, in recent years, a greater proportion of people getting out of their depth ... and some high expectations from a demanding race community and media.
A Personal Potted History
1992 - Fit, Young and Ambitious.
Quietly confident but enjoying racing just behind my role models, heroes and leading runners of the day. Sadly, my partner Steve Dubie put his foot down a rabbit hole on the last afternoon and so we lost several hours as he hobbled with severe cruciate ligament damage. We missed the Saturday morning presentation as we sat in A&E in Cardiff, I remember driving home to Cumbria, non-stop, with a bit of a sulk on.
2102 - Very Fit, Not-so-Young, Tired.
But a bit tired and battered from a week's AR Exped race the week before. Shane's extra special Day One was tough, we dug deep, I nursed my battered body efficiently to the finish, Overjoyed, yet a little jealous of Helene's 4th place performance, it was an evening of very mixed emotions as we waited for Wendy Dodds to finish late in the evening. And all a bit of a head mash, as I'd got some tragic news as phoned home, just after the finish line. A week later another tragedy.
2015 - Fit Enough, Getting Older and Wiser. Try Again.
So, this is the last time? Let's get it right and finish on a high, please. Finished strongly, enjoyed all but five minutes, but perhaps under-achieved. Bugger...!
2017 - Not Dead Yet - let's have fun.
2019 - tbc....fit enough to take part, or working on the event side which is harder?
Have fun, everyone.