Wednesday 15th November
Mark and I unfortunately share something in common. We’ve both owe a tremendous amount to The Bristol Children’s Hospital. Skimmo’s son Albert was born in April 2013, thirteen weeks premature at just 2lbs 10 oz. He spent the next 12 weeks in The Bristol Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit as Mark and his wife Joy took turns to sit by his bedside. Over the coming years Albert spent weeks at a time in and
out of hospital, his respiratory system left him susceptible to infection from his traumatic start in life. A cold can turn into Pneumonia and frequent trips to PICU. To date Mark estimates Albert’s care to have cost somewhere in the region of £300,000 and this year he has also taken on a challenge of his own. In September 2016 Mark completed a high altitude trek to Everest Base Camp. He chose the fundraising challenge especially as the thin air at altitude would replicate Albert’s ongoing respiratory suffering.
On my first day back at work after Autumn had been in hospital back in November 2015 Mark invited me for a coffee and a chat. It helped immensely given the traumatic weekend that we had experienced. Besides Autumn’s health, Katie and my relationship had been seriously stretched. Her maternal instinct was on full alert and there was little I could say or do to convince her that I needed to take her home to sleep after 48 hours in a hospital with no sleep. It’s completely understandable but pretty destructive. Mark’s experience and sympathy was desperately welcome and extremely helpful.
It was dark before we started running tonight. By 3 miles in the conditions were laughable. Pitch black, on a canal tow path. Skimmo illuminated the path with an offensively bright bike light as he scooted along next to me. The wind bellowed and rain slashed sideways and I was dodging, jumping and skipping around puddles that spanned the width of the path. Skimmo offered about as much sympathy as you’d expect from a swimming coach…zero. On a bright sunny day the towpath from Bath to Bristol Upon Avon is a stunning walk that cuts through the steep hills on either side. There are 2 gorgeous Georgian viaducts that we could merely sense in the darkness. Needless to say we were alone on the path. When Mark got stalled as the towpath narrowed under a bridge I was plunged into darkness as I ran ahead, forced to stop immediately in fear of ending up in the water. Having survived the hopscotch along the path I then twisted my ankle on the most innocuous of paths, under a streetlight on a concrete path as we switched sides of the canal… 5 minutes later I did it again! Coming off the tow path at Bradford we were greeted by some streetlights and a further helping of sideways rain. By the time we made it to Trowbridge I was well and truly done. Soaked to the skin, cold and shattered.
For future reference: The perfect way to finish a run is (and in this order): Chocolate Nesquik, water, warm shower, pub, pint, Caeser Salad (no joke), Eton Mess, bed by 10pm in a Lightening McQueen bed spread.
We both owe a tremendous amount to the hospital and it’s staff and I’m delighted to have shared a run with Skimmo, the conditions just added to the adventure! Good luck for the future mate.