Top 2 Toe

10 Marathons in 10 days and 100’s of miles of cycling

A combination of running & cycling between John O’groats and Lands End, 1000 grueling miles! Every morning starting with a marathon (26.2 miles), then exchanging trainers for cycle gear and cycling to that night’s destination, on average 16 hours a day on foot or in the saddle.

John O’Groats onto Drumnadrochit, Loch Lomond, Lockerbie, Lancaster, Stoke, West Bromwich/Birmingham, Weston super Mare, Okehampton, Truro and finally Lands End

Not satisfied with running 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents, Dave decided to explore Britain from Top2Toe, certainly with a difference! The journey started on 10th August the very birthday in 1884 of the charities founder Douglas Macmillan. To celebrate their 10 decades in existence, Dave decided to complete the grueling journey in just 10 days, each day representing a decade.

The first marathon of 10 began at 4am in the morning in what seemed like perfect weather conditions! The day suddenly changed turning into be the worst recorded rainfall since Scottish records began. Could it get any worse?  And this was just the first day!

The team was heading south and looking forward to our final destination, Lands End! In Dave’s words, “It was an unbelievable journey, fighting the elements, rain, hale, fog, cold and sunshine, hills, valleys, A roads, B roads, Dual Carriageways, traffic. There was pain and pleasure, physical and mental fatigue but with support from a great team around me, the journey, the challenge, the adventure was a great success for both myself and more over the charity, Macmillan Cancer Support in their centenary year,”

The journey completed, was another first, a world record, running 10 marathons in 10 days and cycling 700 plus miles, John O’groats to Lands End certainly never being done in this way before, possibly never again either! The days were long, starting in the main at 5 in the morning, then running and cycling well into the evening. Hydration key whilst running, eating on the bike or at the relevant pit stops. Accommodation always a welcome sight or feeling! First food, then shower, kit ready for the morning, physio and then bed, which was never before midnight. On average four and a half hours sleep before the day started all over again, mind with only two time zones this time! AM and PM! The weather through Scotland wintery, getting warmer the further south we traveled.

Looking back at the Top2Toe challenge and its success it’s amazing how it all came to be! Firstly the idea, then 12 months before, Deb, the girls and I, sitting in the car at what was to be the start of an amazing adventure. The girls with pens and paper in their hands, me with a tape recorder and Deb holding the steering wheel, driving from John O’groats Deb clocking miles, pit stops, land marks, Deb chuckling to me at every hill, her comments “Rather you than me!” The training started in earnest, on times up at 4 in the morning, running 20 mile and on getting home jumping on the bike and then cycling 50 miles. We did 20 mile back to back runs; we did 100 mile back to back rides! Sponsorship was found, kit sorted, accommodation arranged for the journey and importantly, a team put together! The team came together over a few months, without any hesitation Dave Long came on board, as guide runner; Dave completed all 10 marathons with me. Then Karl Moore, another guide runner, Karl through personal reasons joined us at Gretna Green, he ran and cycled the whole of England with me. Steve and Dave Dourass, looked after the support vehicle, both representing the charity, but to be fair their tasks were endless! Garry Wells, he rode the lead motor bike, working the route with safety his prime objective but leading us all like a true General. Mike Hopkins, principle of South Birmingham College, who piloted the tandem, doing me, proud from Top2Toe, Dave Sinar who was a support tandem pilot, never got on the front but his experience was key. Rosemary Rhodes, a physio of some repute! She not only kept me together but was there to help all the team when needed. Andy Williams, support driver and general gofer, nothing too much trouble and finally the last team member Mr. Steve Dugmore, support cyclist, with certainly much more to offer, without Steve certainly a majority of my tandem training just wouldn’t have happened. There were many, many more involved indirectly with the challenge, but I have to say a team of individuals began the journey out of John O’groats, but a team of lifelong friends crossed the finish line in Lands End.

2011 marked the charities 100th anniversary. For a number of personal reasons, Dave wanted to raise awareness and vital funds. As Dave says ‘Cancer’s effects touch all of us. I lost both my father and father-in-law, and then lost my last guide dog to cancer. Very recently its terrible consequences hit home again when it claimed the life of a long time friend of over 35 years. Staggeringly one in three people develop cancer during their lives. That’s a frightening statistic!

A fitting end was needed for such a fantastic adventure and on the 24th November 2011 we organised the grand finale ball at the Burlington Hotel Birmingham, where we presented Macmillan with a cheque for £126,000. The target figure raised, the team together once again, all celebrating the success of a great adventure, 10 marathons, in 10 days, with 100’s of miles of cycling in this the centenary year for the charity, a fantastic result all round.

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