Thursday, 16 May 2013

Paris Sera Toujours Paris

Welcome back to the Arc to Arch / fivemarathons blog. This latest thrilling instalment comes only three weeks before we head to Paris to start our Arc to Arch cycling adventure. I'm looking forward to being back in the City of Light. The last time I was there, in January, I came back engaged to be married. This time, given that I'm rooming with Chopper Chaplin, I'm hoping that there's no repeat.

Proudly wearing my Macmillan jersey in the starting pen, before the Philadelphia Marathon (November 2012)

My training continues to progress reasonably well and the miles are rolling by. Over the bank holiday, I put in about 85 miles on a return trip from Menstrie to St Andrews. Belatedly, I’m beginning to realise the importance of checking, before you set out: a) the gradient profile; and b) the prevailing wind. Otherwise, you’ll rattle off the out lap in record time, only to realise you’ve been going downhill with the wind at your back. The 3 hour 10 return leg was in stark contrast to the two hour out lap.

Steffan making it look easy

Last week, I spent the day volunteering at Grove House Hospice (see in Hertfordshire. Grove House has been supporting people affected by cancer and other life-limiting illnesses in St Albans since the early 1980s. It provided the first Hospice Care Team for St Albans, with the aim of providing specialist Macmillan Nurses for the area. Regular readers will know that Macmillan is a cause close to my heart and is, with the Christie, one of fivemarathons’ supported charities. Not that I needed any reminder, Macmillan's vital work was brought home to me with the care Jayne’s Mum received during her recent battle against cancer.

My Olympic torch comes home. The nurses looking after Jay's Mum pose with the torch (Macmillan was the reason I was nominated to carry the flame).

My particular skillset is obviously best suited to less cerebral pursuits and I spent the morning cracking rocks as I dug the foundations for, and concreted, a platform for a garden bench within Grove House’s superb gardens. Very much against the odds, and in true Ground Force style, we managed to complete the platform, lay the paving flags, and have the bench installed in time for afternoon tea and medals. The photo of the spirit level, below, reflects our incredulity that the bench was relatively straight.

Feeling suitably smug with ourselves at Grove House

Tommy Walsh would be proud

Volunteering at Grove House was every bit as fulfilling as, and much less gruelling than, the days I’ve pulled on my Macmillan jersey to run one of the marathons. You get a real insight into the great work that the hospice, and Macmillan, are doing to help our loved ones when they need it the most. Speaking of jerseys, this week, we’ve finalised the shirt sponsors for our Arc to Arch cycling tops. Many, many thanks to our corporate sponsors, whose logos we’ll be proudly sporting as we tear out of Paris (and crawl into London two days later):

2 Hare Court (see

Carrley Business Consulting (see

Crown Office Chambers (see

Datamere (see

Elior (see

Marine Harvest (see

Tangle Teezer (see

Wilson Gunn (see

I hope you’ll tune into our blog updates throughout our preparation and the Arc to Arch event itself. You can support our endeavours, and these great charities, at or contact Paula Ferdinales ( / 0161 603 5000) to hear more about our corporate sponsorship packages.

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NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004