9 February 2018
We passed the runners with loud cheers and honking of the horn as they made their way through Netley Village. Their next stop would be the Common just after eleven o’clock. We had two hours so we headed to the nearest Starbucks, on London Road. Sitting in the warm drinking coffee felt like heaven after all the standing around in the cold, even if there was a touch of guilt thinking about our runners still pounding the chilly pavements.
There was time for a spot of breakfast, or maybe that should be brunch, and a mercy dash to get sunglasses for cyclist Dan who was struggling with the unexpected brightness. There was even time for a drive through MacDonalads for those who fancied something a little more lunch like. We made it to the Common in plenty of time and parked up on Cemetery Road before heading for the Hawthorns to wait for the runners and cyclists to arrive. Marcus and his daughter Brooke were there waiting when we arrived along with Pete the Meat. They’d come to cheer the runners on.
This time there was a proper stop. Food was eaten, water bottles were refilled. Typically, now Dan had his sunglasses, it began to rain. Some of the runners dug jackets out of all the assorted equipment in the car. There was even time for a quick group photo before they set off on their twenty first mile. The early morning support runners had gone but they were replaced by Big Dave, Paul, and Lordshill Road Runners Chairman, Steve.
The drizzly rain briefly turned to sleet but, thankfully, stopped shortly after we got back into the car. We hoped it wouldn’t start again. Now our mission was to get to the General Hospital for the half way stop just after midday. We had almost an hour to cover the two and half miles between the Common and the hospital. Even with a quick stop to pick up Rob’s birthday cake and drop it off at the sports centre we arrived in plenty of time.
We parked in Holybrook Cemetery, just across the road from the hospital. With more time I’d have enjoyed wandering around the graves looking for stories. There was time to hunt down one grave though. When CJ and I last came here there was a funeral taking place so we hadn’t had as much time to explore as we’d have liked. We knew comedian Benny Hill was buried somewhere in the cemetery but it’s very large and we had no idea where to even start looking. Kim knew exactly where the grave was though and, as it wasn’t far from our parking spot, we stopped to visit it.
Benny Hill was born Alfred Hawthorne Hill in Southampton in 1924 and is one of Southampton’s most famous sons. Today we didn’t have time to stop long so his story will have to wait for another day. Today was all about the runners. With the drizzle falling again, I took a couple of photos and we headed across the road towards the hospital.
The hospital reception was warm and bright. It made a welcome change from standing around in the cold. There was plenty of time to get food and coffee before the runners arrived. There was even time for me to drop off the second baby blanket I’d knitted for the neonatal unit and had been carrying around in my rucksack all morning just in case.
While we were drinking our coffee Rob B’s wife, Amanda, Spitfires, Rosie and Sue, and several of the hospital staff arrived to cheer the runners to their halfway point. Considering they’d run almost a complete marathon at this point and had another ahead of them they were in good spirits as they appeared around the side of the main hospital building. Hopefully no one in the rheumatology department saw Commando as he whizzed past or, if they did, didn’t realise just how far he was running.
The main issue, at least according to Commando, was cold hands. Luckily I’d thought to buy him a cup of hot chocolate when I’d bought my coffee. The drink warmed him and holding it helped thaw out his hands enough to use the loo unaided.
This was always planned as the longest stop of the run. It gave the runners and cyclists the chance to have a hot drink, eat and digest a more substantial snack and use the hospital facilities. Luckily no one was in need of any medical assistance but, had they been, they were in the right place for it.
Twenty minutes flew by all too fast. The refuelled runners and cyclists, probably feeling a little stiff, set off once again. They were heading towards their second marathon of the day. The rain had stopped, at least for the moment, the sky was blueish and they all seemed surprisingly chirpy. The next time we saw them they would be in Eastleigh, by then they’d have run thirty miles. Would there still be five runners, would the cyclists still be peddling and would they all still be smiling? Only time would tell.
You don’t have to run to be part of this amazing feat. There’s still time to make a donation to Alzheimer’s Research UK here.
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