Day 150 Has seen 5 miles run, 3 hills climbed and sun, showers, spaniards, Jesus met, scouts, strong winds and smiles over seven miles. 

Day 150 - Jesus and family!
Day 150 – Jesus and family!

Friday saw a glorious 5.13 miles run on the same route as done 3 weeks ago. The question was whether or not I had got fitter. Could I go faster? Last time I ran it in 48 minutes and 58 seconds setting a pace of 9 minutes and 32 seconds per mile. This time I did it in 48 minutes and 05 seconds setting a pace of 9 minutes and 22 seconds per mile. Brilliant! That made me 10 seconds a mile faster than 3 weeks ago and no seizure this time either. Hoorah. 

Saturday saw the 7.5 miles of the Caerketton and Allermuir hills walk tackled across the glorious Pentland Hills and the entire walk has been punctuated by people. Wonderful people. As we were getting our boots on the lady in the car next to ours was getting her running trainers on. I asked of course and then found out about the 16 miles she was running over the hills today in preparation for a huge event abroad later in the year. I was clearly impressed and had to tell her about the challenge before she was off to tackle the hills. She popped the flier in the car and appeared to be genuinely interested so I very much hope that she does come to support the challenge when she gets home.

I was feeling shady. Neither grey, nor black, nor white, nor green, nor blue, nor red, nor yellow. Just odd. A mix of colours in many shades making a rather indescribable and miserable shady brown colour. Just not right. But what I did know was that I needed to start walking. That was the only way I was going to find normality. 

The Moody Pentlands awaited
The Moody Pentlands awaited

We set off in bright sunshine but before we knew it we were fighting through fierce side winds as we started to climb up towards Caerketton hill. It was a steep start that got me breathing, got me sweating and started to blow away the cobwebs and bring some colour back in to my life but I wasn’t sure what the walk was going to deliver. Until we saw the first crest come into view. On a bench, on a shelf up on the top of the first crest were 4 people in various bright colours enjoying the view. I felt an immediate desire to talk to them but wasn’t sure if they would stay there long enough. But they sure did and as we crested into view I offered to take a picture for them. As they giggled and exclaimed concern as I was nearly being blown away or sent for a tumble back down the hill in such fierce winds I decided that there was no option but to introduce the challenge to such lovely people. After I did so I asked for a photo and for their names only to discover that I had been talking to Jesus ……………. and Paz, David and Beatriz. They were a most delightful family from Madrid in Spain and the mother, Paz, exclaimed most confidently, ‘Archie, you will be famous in Spain!’ I chortled and confirmed that I would of course love to come over and conduct some challenge activity in Spain if of course they would have me. So flyer handed over and handshakes exchanged it was time to press on while I hope that they carry the challenge into Spain on their return. 

Another view of the Moody Pentlands
Another view of the Moody Pentlands

At the next crest and sensibly, in the lee of the wind, sat a large group just waiting for me. As we approached them I realised that they hadn’t been waiting for me. Instead just having lunch were the 122 comely bank scouts. I had been a scout leader for the 9 months between leaving the Army and my diagnosis but retired as treatment and epilepsy made my ability to take responsibility for a group of young scouts untenable. But I love speaking to young people and scouts because they make me smile with their youthful energy and love of life so wanted to stop and say hello. The rain was coming in fast so this was the time to get the waterproofs on. And as I did so I started to introduce myself to the scout leader Stephen.  We chatted away about the challenge but as the weather was closing in fast I decided that it was sensible to grab a photo, if they didn’t mind, before it was too late. They were a great group of Scouts and were fun to watch on the hill enjoying the navigational challenge and I very much hope that they can take the challenge into their Scout Troop and make me the focus for any sponsored activities that they might want to conduct while raising awareness of the challenge through the scouting network. We bade farewell to the team and the leaders Stephen and Graham and pushed on up the hill to be met by stinging rain in fierce winds. It was making standing upright hard enough without being able to even see where one was going as to lift one’s head into the wind was like presenting one’s face to a sand storm. But then, quite suddenly the wind dropped, perhaps as we entered a lee from the wind and the rain subsided and another group of people started to file past us. I looked up, smiled and said hello and then sensed that I needed to stop and introduce them to the challenge. So I did. I started with my usual. ‘Hello. Please forgive me for disturbing you all but I just felt that I had to introduce you to the challenge.’ As I did so this group of men and women stopped, turned, walked back up the hill slightly so that they could hear me and cocked their heads to listen against the wind. I proffered my last flyer for the day to a lady who took it and then I continued. ‘In December 2012 I left the Army and just 9 months later in September 2013 I was diagnosed with a Brain Tumour resultant from a blunt force trauma sustained during my service 12 to 15 years ago.’ The wind held off, the rain held off, these wonderful people were listening, every pair of eyes fixed on me. ‘This is terminal’ I went on. ‘But I’m not prepared to accept that so I have launched myself on a challenge to Beat the Beast while trying to improve the lives and life chances of as many people as I can. With every day God gives me for as long as ever I can’. My voice suddenly broke with emotion as I spoke of the many courageous people who were following the challenge to find hope, inspiration and encouragement to carry on their fight against their own particular beasts but I managed to hold it back and apologised for being quite so emotional before then asking them to pour a glass of wine and google beat the beast challenge and caused much laughter as I implored them not to forget the word challenge and how unfortunate the search results could be if they just googled beat the beast! As I came to a close with a plea for them to get behind the challenge and do all that they can to help me raise awareness and improve the lives and life chances of so many more people I was met by many approving promises to have a look at it and perhaps share the page et al. To see what they could do. So I thanked them for stopping and listening and then asked for a photo before saying farewell to the Murrayfield Crew with many handshakes and glad tidings. As Allie and I pressed on she told me of a conversation she had had with some of the ladies while I chatted with this glorious group of friends out celebrating a friend’s birthday. I learned the startling news that one of those ladies I had met was courageously fighting breast cancer and having significant success in her battle. I was pleased to hear of such positive news and pray that she continues to have success against the vicious disease. I very much hope that they do come and join me on the journey and do all that they can to help me raise awareness and find some sponsorship.

The Murrayfield Crew and I
The Murrayfield Crew and I

We pressed on and finished the walk taking an extra dog leg to go and have a look at Swanston then back in after a celebratory Mocha with the final miles done in thick rain. 3 hills surmounted Caerketon, Allermuir and Byreside with 7.5 miles completed. No seizure, greyness gone. Wonderful people met. A great day.

Sunday tomorrow. So church and lots of admin. Next post on Monday.

So the challenge in numbers in total since the start
Days completed: 150
Total Miles Cycled: 660.84
Total Miles Walked: 798.08
Total Miles Run: 116.63
Total Miles Paddled: 7
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Run and Rowed in the gym: 42.17
Total Distance Swum: 3,780 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.1,628.42
Total Height Gained under own steam: 54,520 feet
Mountains Climbed: 6
Hills Climbed: 25
Days of Voluntary Activity: 8.5
Organ tunes learnt and performed: 5
Salmon Caught: 0!
Bats Found:0!
Curling Matches played in: 8
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 3
Weight Training Sessions: 12
Weight shifted: 10kgs lifted over 318metres or 6360kgs moved over ½ a metre,
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 8
Press Ups: 580
Pull Ups: 100
Sit Ups: 845
People Met and Hands Shaken: 458
Pots of tea shared: 30
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 2
Prayers joined in the street!: 4
Prayers joined in a Train Station: 1
Prayers joined in a Café: 2
Pills popped: 860
Days until Driving Licence (lost to epilepsy) possibly Returned: 727 (Re-set as a result of today’s seizure)
And most importantly – Money Raised as at Week 39 – £7,714

Considering I started this challenge 6 months ago very quietly with no target beyond a fiver, thanks to the brilliant advice from a friend of mine, I am absolutely thrilled and again thank you all. That is £52.83 for each and every day that I have managed to find the will and energy to do something worthwhile and my goodness it has been worth it for my peace of mind, for my healing and for the five wonderful