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Beat The Beast Challenge

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Extraordinary as it may seem it is 9 days since I posted my last full post on facebook. This post marks the transition from facebook onto the beat the beast challenge website and an enhancing of the use of social media like facebook and twitter as espoused for so long by the wonderful Caroline Barrowman and Heather MacLeod.

Since that last post I have:

  • Covered 83.74 miles under my own steam (the equivalent of Edinburgh to Morpeth in England) and ascended 4.719.81 feet (the equivalent of North Fork Mountain in the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia)
  • All the while carrying the equivalent of a gold bar in my rucksack,
  • While doing 66 press ups and 176 sit ups while moving 5 kgs 264 metres or a 1.3 tonne Cadillac Eldorado over a metre.

I have also suffered 1 x seizure, had a serious bout of cognitive malfunction but also received significant inspiration for my future direction.

So Day 180 of the challenge started in the most wonderful of ways as I walked. The sun was promising to shine as the frosty morning stood still around the Firth of Forth. The city was silent, the Firth was silent, there was no movement in the city, there was no movement on the Firth. The Firth was flat calm like a millpond with the lights of Fife, Newhaven and the breakwater flats being reflected onto the deep, dark and still water. I set out on my 2.6 mile walk around the Wardie Parish Church loop then back home for morning prayer and organ practice followed by a quick breakfast before then chopping vegetables for my packed lunch. I was heading into Doune to see how work on the flat was getting on and, now my piles have settled a little, to collect my bike for the city. The buses in Edinburgh are brilliant but so are the increasing number of most excellent cycle paths. Each cycle path was an opportunity to get some exercise while on the way to get an errand done. So I needed my bike. I had to have my bike to explore this great city from the saddle. I set off on the bus to catch a train but as I approached Stirling on the train, I realised that I was going to miss the bus to Doune. I was only a couple of minutes late but time and bus wait for no man, and it was an hour until the next one. If I stayed on the train to Dunblane, that would take an extra 6 minutes and if I then walked to Doune along the 3.76 miles of the Old Doune Road I might actually be able to beat the bus. It was a beautifully crisp day so it was time to play beat the bus. I stayed on the train until Dunblane and then I was off and walked the route in an hour dead. I beat the bus by 20 minutes and had a wonderful walk in the process. I realised just how much I missed my old dog Georgie and just how much I missed the countryside while I walked. The Old Doune Road was being tarmacked as a formal cycle lane so was easy walking, but the smell of freshly laid tarmac smothered the wonderful sweet smells of the countryside: horses, cattle, sheep, winter fodder and silage as well as manures. But the livestock were out and singing to each other over the wonderful green fields bathed in winter sunshine. The birds were out and singing to me as they flitted and flighted up the hedgerows staying just ahead of me, as if guiding me and pulling me on. Flocks of Starlings chattering to each other with Redwing and Thrushes, Robins and countless Tits all joining the party. A Buzzard just above me was being mobbed by crows while a Red Kite sat in observation and sensibly left the Buzzard to fight his own battles. I was treated to a veritable air display of some skill as the air war ensued. As I walked, I soaked up the views of the surrounding rolling countryside and hills in the distance. I soaked up the sunshine, smiled, and thanked God for this wonderful day that he had blessed me with. After crossing the A820, I continued on the cycle path towards Doune. I started bumping into old friends from the village and others that I didn’t know but as I smiled and greeted them, the world smiled back.

I got to my flat, grabbed my high vis vest, gloves and helmet. I packed the bike tools and puncture repair kit into my rucksack then after putting some air into the tyres I was off. The sun had gone, the day was cooling down but it was still bright. It was a lovely day for a cycle. I cycled back along the cycle track and the newly laid tarmac, across the motorway bridge before whizzing downhill into Dunblane. Then on up a really challenging hill onto the Sherriffmuir before then plunging down the most wonderful twisty path through the glorious wooded Kippenrait glen that swirled along with the Wharry Burn before popping out in Bridge of Allan. On I cycled past the University and into Causewayhead before turning right down a lovely quiet road that tracked the sleepy River Forth with glorious views across to the old city of Stirling. Past Cambuskenneth Abbey, through Cambuskenneth village, across the Forth and into Riverside before cycling up past the old port on the Forth and into Stirling Station. That was a glorious 11.78 miles cycled ascending 432.74 feet before an hour’s answering emails on the train and then cycling the 3.4 miles while ascending 442.26 feet from Edinburgh Waverley Station to Newhaven. After a short climb up North St David’s Street it was pretty much downhill all the way on to Queen Street, then Dublin Street, then Scotland Street before picking up the National Cycle Routes 75, 13 and 14 to Newhaven. They followed an old railway line which had one particular tunnel that was well lit and with the old soot marks still visible one could imagine the great old steam trains whistling through the tunnel. All that could be heard now was the humm humm humm humm rhythm of my deeply treaded fat mountain bike tyres on Tarmac. The route was well signposted so I made It to Newhaven with no issues. It was now quite late so after tea I set about unpacking and cleaning equipment. Then I answered some more emails before doing some ironing before bed. Sadly, bed time brought a most unnerving experience.

I swallowed my anti-seizure pills and was feeling tired but otherwise fine. I said goodnight to Allie then took myself off to my room to sleep. Post Chemo my skin has become incredibly, and at times painfully dry so I routinely moisturise my feet, legs, arms. Face and hands every night with Diprobase before putting gel in my eyes, which have also dried up post treatment, and then setting the alarm clock, reading through blurry gelled eyes and then lights out at 2300hrs before praying. A pattern and routine I set a long time ago in order to ensure that I maximised my opportunity for rest every night and in an ideal world sleep by re-settling my circadian rhythm after it was knocked so far off course by treatment. As I prayed I felt good. I thanked God for a great day and asked for another great day while also asking for the healing of those that I was routinely praying for. I didn’t ask for healing for myself as I truly believe that I was healed, so it seemed absurd to be asking for healing for myself. If I did, surely that showed a lack of faith by me in my healing and perhaps all the cautiousness around me and my own presumed healing was starting to cast doubts in my mind. So I didn’t pray for me. Instead for everybody else that I knew were needing help or healing. I would normally be drifting off at this stage. Indeed I have often woken the next morning realising that I fell asleep while praying. But this Saturday night after such a wonderful day I started to feel a little odd. I opened my eyes and realised that the blind in the room was looking odd, that I was struggling to perceive depth and distances. A tingling and numbness started to creep up my left arm and then into my throat. A tingling and a numbness that started to constrict my very throat, started to force me to have to work really hard to swallow. Allie must have sensed that something was up because she came and knocked at the door. I couldn’t answer her but willed her to open the door and come in. As I fought to gain control of my throat I felt the icy grip of fear across my throat, so willed Allie into the room. Remembering the eel seizure so soon after surgery and in which I so nearly choked to death had I not been rushed to the hospital by the ambulance I started to fight another battle. A battle to keep my head. To not panic. I pleaded with Allie to come in. She couldn’t hear me of course but sensed that she ought. The door crept open nervously. A head appeared around the door and then Allie rushed in. Sat beside me and took my hand. I tried to talk but couldn’t formulate the words. I could be understood but sounded so very different, like a person with learning difficulties, as I dug deeper into my memories to try and remember what the symptoms of the eel seizure were. Did I need to call for help? But at the same time I was trying not to panic or frighten Allie. I remembered the vibrating lips, then the smell and sound of eels squirming in my mouth. There were no smells or sounds or sensations of eels in my mouth. I didn’t need to call for help. This was a strong seizure but I was breathing, just not able to talk, it would pass. Perhaps I could force it to pass quicker and Allie knew the drill by now. I needed to walk. Allie helped me up out of the bed and into the corridor in the flat. I started walking but felt I needed further so tried to go out the door into the public corridor but Allie turned me back. I was still in my pyjamas! So I walked backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards trying to push this seizure away. I fought for each swallow and clenched and unclenched my fists to push the numbness away but still no improvement. I felt cognitively challenged so perhaps I should sit at my keyboard and do some organ practice to try and beat the seizure back that way. It was a mistake. I shuffled with the music book. Turned the pages to the most basic tune sure that I could play it. Turned the organ on. Made sure it was quiet enough and then tried to play. My brain and hands were just not communicating and to make matters worse my fingers had turned into putty. Each time I tried to play a note my finger would crumple into the key and take ages to return to position in order to try and play another note. Then they would try and go the wrong way and through the seizure I could tell that this was the worst possible noise that one could ever make. I should have started to cry. To concede perhaps that this one had got the better of me. To just lie down, curl up into the foetal position and cry and cry until this busy hive of angry bees constricting my very being decided to go back to their hive. Instead I just started to laugh. Laugh uncontrollably like some madman in a horror movie. I continued to make the most awful noise on the keyboard and laugh loudly, my head thrown back, as if in defiance to whatever it was that had such a grip of me. Eventually Allie came and roused me from my defiant battle. She took my hands from the keyboard and held me close. Held me tight like a child as the tears trickled down my face, and rocked me until it started to pass. Then she tucked me back up in bed, sat on the bed next to me and talked to me. Talked and talked to me until she was sure from the clarity of my speech that the seizure had well and truly passed. After some time, it did, and it was time for us both to get some rest. Allie opened the window to give me fresh air, switched off my lights and left the room, the door gliding across the carpet to a close. Now was the time to curl up in a ball. I did not want to lie on my back in case I choked on something like my tongue in a return of the seizure so I adopted a rudimentary form of the recovery position and drifted off to sleep thankful that it had passed, so very thankful that Allie had come in the nick of time to help me, and gutted that it was going to be another two years before I could get my driving licence back, and feeling fully chastised for believing that I did not need to pray for myself any more. I do not think that God works in such ways so it was probably purely coincidental but I felt vulnerable so my own healing was firmly back on my prayer card along with all those others that I prayed for.

The Sunrise over Newhaven
The Sunrise over Newhaven

Monday and Tuesday saw me cycling back into Doune for some work on the flat before returning to Edinburgh on Tuesday evening in time to cook tea for Allie and I as she returned from a seminar. It was another bad day. I felt okay as I tackled some administration and planning and preparation for ongoing ideas and projects. I ran, I walked, I cycled, I practiced the organ and I prayed and felt good but as I worked in the kitchen preparing a very simple meal of a vegetable pie with peas and sweetcorn I started to notice that my coordination was going. As I tried to pick up things from the kitchen top they would flick out of my fingers and skitter away across the work top. I would find myself standing, just standing, staring into nowhere with an empty mind, trying to fathom what on earth it was that I was supposed to be doing. I went to pour some frozen peas and sweetcorn from their bags into a measuring cup but missed with the peas. They went skittering across the floor as I continued to pour taking some real amount of time to actually realise what was happening. I started to feel a little out of my depth. I cooked lots and lots. I loved cooking, but this evening, I felt completely out of my depth, like a five year old asked to make scrambled egg. I started to believe I was a liability and perhaps shouldn’t even be trusted in the kitchen, but was with it enough to know that I wasn’t a five year old. That it was just a momentary lapse of cognitive and motor function. I turned the kettle on and put some Horlicks into the bottom of a mug. I got it in the mug no problems. I put a little cold water in to make a paste and after the kettle boiled poured it in to the cup. No dramas there. I stirred it and as I did so saw the pea and sweetcorn packets. I decided to put them back in the freezer and gather the peas off the floor to wash them and use them for tea. Shakily I returned the bags to the freezer and then scrabbled around on my hands and knees picking up peas to put them into the sieve. I didn’t want to use a dust pan and brush, that just felt wrong when I wanted to use them, so I used my fingers and realised that it was taking me forever as I struggled to coordinate my motor skills for such a precision task. Then I felt pride. I realised that if I put the oven on now, by the time I had finished picking up the peas and washing them it would be warm enough to put in the pies. I stood, puffed out my chest and grabbed the mug of Horlicks. With a confidence of a thinking mind I took a deep mouthful, swilled it around my mouth in preparation to swallow, and then my eyes bulged as I span for the sink to spit. It was just off boiling as I had only just made it and like a five year old drank deeply before realising I was burning my mouth. I felt weak, frustrated and sore mouthed. I needed to sit at the organ and try and force the brain to function beyond the capability of a five year old. But first I had some peas to pick up and wash and some pies to put in the oven. Stupidly I went for the pies first crushing a number of peas under foot. I decided to put some water on to boil in a pan yet at the same time questioned whether I was safe to be handling a pan of hot water but did it anyway. Then I concentrated hard and pea by pea by crushed pea picked up the peas while peering through eyes blurred by frustrated tears. I washed them, discarded the crushed ones and put them in the mug with the sweetcorn. I checked the pies and then checked the floor. I wanted to make sure it was tidy. I did not want to alarm Allie. I laid the table and checked the pie, checked the pie, checked the pie and put the peas and sweetcorn into the boiling water. I was nervous and wanted all to appear normal but when Allie returned home she immediately realised that all was not normal. She told me that my speech was off, that I appeared a little slow and when I dropped my knife a couple of times while trying to start eating she held my hand as if to reassure me. She asked me how I was, what was wrong, how I was feeling, but all I could answer was fine, okay, fine, just fine, but she knew that I wasn’t. That I was having to concentrate so hard, even just to eat that she felt shut out. I wasn’t shutting Allie out, but perhaps I was so focused on such a simple task as eating that I was in a sort of a tunnel that shut out all external distractions superfluous to the task in hand. It was time to wash up but Allie insisted that I go and pray and play the organ. Try and engage the brain while she washed up, she didn’t want me trying to wash up or dry up the sharp knife. I went to pray evening prayer and practice the organ. I was nervous after Saturday night’s appalling effort but set everything up, picked the most basic of tunes that I had made such a dogs dinner out of 3 nights previously, took a deep breath and started to play, slowly, deliberately and with deep concentration. It worked well, remarkably well and as I finished the tune I noticed that Allie had come to join me. I picked up my tablet and read the evening prayer straight from the Episcopalian Church of Scotland Website. I was hunched over concentrating hard on the words. As I did Allie placed a hand on my shoulder and joined me too. Apparently I had been reading very slowly, very deliberately and with deep concentration much like a small child as I tripped on words and struggled to formulate words, but as I prayed and played more tunes, slowly, so very slowly but surely, I started to grow in age and in confidence. I started to come home, come back to Allie.

Over the remainder of the week much administration for the refurbishment of the flat, and the preparation for the wedding including marital counselling and preparation to prepare us both better for the challenges such a marriage in such uncertain circumstances would undoubtedly throw at us, and indeed was already throwing at us. I was quite positive that I must be extremely difficult to live with, the uncertainty, the fear manifesting itself so visibly in seizures and cognitive challenges and with the feeling of being shut out by me as I concentrate hard on every muscle movement and action I am trying to take as I battle with the beast manifesting itself in my head. I was also dealing with the uncertainty of increasing levels of heart pain and stomach pain and was fearing slightly for the physical damage to the rest of my body done by the year of chemotherapy. When I said that I intended to die despite the disease not because of it, I did not intend to mean that I would die of something different triggered by the treatment for the disease, and as the pains became more frequent and life more uncomfortable, the worst possible outcomes started to materialise with the most likely possible causes in my head. But rather than be frightened of what I might find out I knew enough to know that I should get checked out, because the earlier we can find out what it is, the far greater my chances of beating the new beast. So further medical appointments ensued as well. But I also knew that physical exercise was the only thing that made my mind, my heart, my stomach, my whole body feel a whole lot better so I continued to exercise and eat my brazil nuts, carrots, red grapes, tenderstem broccoli, tomatoes, apples, tangerines, bananas, spinach rocket and watercress, flaxseed, oats, yoghurt, Horlicks, green tea, three ginger tea and port glass serving of red wine along with a wholesome home cooked meal from fresh and raw ingredients every day while playing and praying.

On Wednesday I had a doctor’s appointment so cycled the 3.4 miles into Waverley Station climbing 221 feet to take the train to Dunblane and cycle the 3.76 miles climbing 201.77 feet into Doune. At the doctor’s appointment the wonderful doctor was not taking any chances. After a thorough physical examination and a long series of questions more bloods were ordered along with a heart trace and a stool sample. She confirmed my own suspicions that all these conditions I was suffering from including the dry skin and eyes, were likely to have been resultant from inflammation around all my internal organs, including the heart and stomach triggered by the chemotherapy. With the heart this is called Pericarditis but was not acute, for if she suspected it was acute she would be rushing me to hospital. Then the good news came. She confirmed my suspicions that exercise and a good diet like the one I was eating, along with a healthy dose of positivity, is the way to heal the damage done but that it will take time. So with a confirmation that exercise was good I thanked the doctor and jumped on my bike to cycle the 9.1 miles ascending 715.88 feet up and over the top road into the Mclaren Leisure Centre in Callander for a swim. But this was to be a very short swim. I had lost all confidence in myself and my swimming safety since that last seizure and the ones so soon after the South Africa trip, so I was back to square one and kept it very short. I spoke to the lifeguard and with no one else in the pool he shadowed me as I swam 4 lengths, 2 breaststroke followed by 2 lengths back crawl. It went well but I was not to push my luck so I climbed out, thanked the lifeguard and showered and changed. Still feeling good I then set out on the return trip 9.1 miles ascending 715.88 feet up and over the top road into Doune before then cycling the 7.16 miles ascending the 422.77 feet on the Cycle, train and cycle route from Doune to Newhaven.

Thursday saw me walk the 1.36 mile ascending 35.43 feet on the Porto & Fi Loop before catching the bus, train, bus to Doune and in the med centre I was straight in to hand in my stool sample. It was not the most pleasant of tasks trying to gather in a stool sample with gloves, a spatula and an extremely narrow specimen bottle but it was the most excellent cognitive and motor coordination training I thought as I balanced on the loo seat trying to scoop the evidence from under me! Then I had a heart trace done and my bloods taken, before then booking a return appointment for the results and a plan of action in a week’s time. Back in Edinburgh I was then straight into my trainers for a 2.6 mile Wardie Parish Church loop run ascending 156.5 feet.

The remainder of the week and the weekend saw me increasingly asking myself what on earth it was that I was to do now. What was the path that I felt God was taking me down? If he has saved me what on earth has he saved me for? I had a number of people come up to me and tell me in person how much they were missing my daily posts on facebook, I had a couple of people discuss their medical issues with me and how they knew what needed to be done but not how to do it. I had tried to bang the drum to improve my sponsorship earning potential but just didn’t seem to have it. Some do have the gift of the gab needed for successful fundraising but I just didn’t seem to have it. Some of my encounters this week were so unusual that I felt that God was trying to tell me something but I knew not what? I was listening but hearing nothing and feeling vulnerable after my recent reminder of my own frailty with the seizure and near failure of my cognitive function. So on Sunday morning. Allie and I went to St Mary’s Dalmahoy for their morning communion service. We were warmly welcomed again and settled into the service. We were introduced to the Reverend Sarah Kilbey who was a visiting Preacher. She prayed the collect, which in the light of my recent troubles, spoke to me and pricked up my senses, suggested to me that perhaps today, in this service, I might hear God talk to me:

‘O God, through our human frailty we cannot stand firm, give us strength and protection that, with your help, we may overcome all difficulties, Amen.’

Then later on in the service God spoke to me, not in audible words from him, but through the wonderful sermon by the Reverend Kilbey. She spoke of Transformation and of walking humbly using so many passages of scripture to reinforce her point and as she spoke, as if she was speaking to me directly I realised just what I was being told.

Firstly about walking humbly. I had failed to increase my monthly standing order fundraising take by some margin. It increased slightly, but only very slightly. By jumping up and down and trying to make some noise to raise some more money for the five wonderful charities I support I appeared almost to turn people away from the challenge, away from my fight with the brain tumour. It felt almost as if the closer I got to being able to wave a piece of paper in the air declaring me fit and fully recovered from the brain tumour and epilepsy and the effects of the brain surgery, radiotherapy and full year of chemotherapy, the further people felt from me. It felt as if the higher that I jumped and the louder that I shouted the further people drifted away. In a morbid sort of a way, interest appeared to be waning because I was winning. But I still had a number of people seeking hope, inspiration and encouragement from my posts. Not all were fighting their own beasts. Many were fighting beasts of brain tumours, cancers, depression and mental health, epilepsy, diabetes, the loss of sight or hearing and many other diseases and ailments which threatened their very existence on this world or threatened to change the very shape of their lives. But there were also those fighting daily to keep life moving forward in a frantic world in which they were trying to keep everything together when dealing with poverty, hunger or grief from separation or from the loss of a loved one. They were searching, not necessarily for hope, inspiration or encouragement but instead just for a sense of perspective. It was clear that I was being told to walk quietly, walk humbly but keep my hands outstretched to those seeking comfort from my journey and my friendship. It may be only ones and twos that come to me, not the hundreds or even thousands that I had hoped to help, but they are people that need help and must be my focus rather than becoming a household name in order to raise as much money as I can. Just focus on those that I can help directly and the rewards of an increased fundraising take and a closer relationship with God will come. So rather than making as much noise as I can, by walking quietly and humbly I can do the most good.

I was reminded that what I will leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.

Secondly the issue of transformation. I have heard so often on my journey of those who suffer from a disease or ailment that afflicts them or even threatens their very existence and know what they should do to improve their condition and their chances of a recovery, but know not how to do it. I have been through that process of being frozen in fear or perhaps so depressed by the constant nagging pain or discomfort of what ever ails me that I completely understand the apparent need to keep calm and carry on rather than seize the bull by the horns and enable a transformation towards a better life. The problem with keeping calm and carrying on is that nothing changes so nothing improves. We have all seen the number of smokers outside oncology hospitals smoking away. Even perhaps connected to a chemotherapy drip. I am not pouring scorn on those individuals. They are merely keeping calm and carrying on but by doing that, they are changing nothing to improve their chances. Fear of making changes holds them back from a future. I used to smoke until the very day that I received a diagnosis. I knew that I had to give up but was frightened of doing so. I was a victim to all the baloney about smoking helping one to keep calm but the reality was that each time I lit a cigarette I started to panic about the damage it was doing to me and about how it was going to reduce the effectiveness of any treatment. So instead I went to the chemist in Doune and sought smoking cessation advice. It took a while and I had one or two falls but quickly, surprisingly quickly, supported by the brilliant team in the Woodside Pharmacy in Doune I found a way through to stopping smoking entirely and now, just 3 years later I have no inclinations to smoke whatsoever. In fact I find the very smell of smoke and the vapourisers repulsive. If anyone needed not to stop for stress relief it was surely me having just been told that I had a terminal brain tumour. The arguments flooded through my head. ‘Well Archie if it is terminal and as your prognosis is so short what is the point in stopping. Keep smoking and enjoying life. What’s the point otherwise!’ The arguments were convincing but what I wanted more than anything was life, a full life, a life in which I could inspire and encourage the children. Give them hope at a time in their lives which was devoid of hope. I didn’t want my children to smoke nor did I want them to watch me being taken ever so slowly away as my cognitive and motor functions were slowly, but so very surely degraded until I could no longer look after myself and the lights went out. I had to stop smoking, and did, and you know what? I now feel so very much better than I ever did when I smoked and even better, I am actually beating the beast. Food is of course another area that runs along such a similar line to smoking. Comfort eating. I have been there but am now not. I have made mistakes like when I dived head first down the raw vegan diet route in a desperate bid to save myself. But I have learned from those mistakes, and have taken that learned wisdom forward into a diet that is also helping me to beat the beast. Physical Exercise is another area. I have always been passionate about it and over done it a few times but again have learned valuable lessons and have taken that learned wisdom forward into a lifestyle that enables sufficient quantities of exercise while enabling a productive life. I have transformed my life so now I am being told to take my learned wisdom forward and through my writing and by taking those by the hand that reach out for mine, teach others to transform their lives towards a better and much happier future too. My 5 Fs of Faith, Food, Physical Training (Sounds like an F!), Family and Friends and Focus that I devised to help me beat the beast is helping me to beat the beast, and in these times of increasingly poor national health in an aging population perhaps I can share my learned wisdom with those that want it.

So this Monday morning after a further 1.65 miles walked ascending 79.72 feet I write this post to launch the Beat The Beast Challenge website as a vehicle from which I can walk quietly and walk humbly to reach out to those that I can, and those that want to be reached in order to provide hope, inspiration, encouragement and an example that will lead them towards a transformation for a better, healthier and happier future.

I continue to try and raise money for the 5 wonderful charities I support so do please consider challenging me to continue to beat the beast while helping so many others to beat their beasts through my words, learned wisdom and your sponsorship. Full details can be found on this website.

Meanwhile I pray that God will teach me how to walk quietly and let my quiet aura be my inspiration and my achievements in God’s work an inspiration for others.

Father remind me to discern your hand in all your works and to recognise your help and guidance in all my works and to serve you quietly, humbly and with a confident discipline in belief. Teach me to be happy when solely in your company and to enjoy your wondrous creation wherever that might be.

Amen.

Finally the challenge in numbers since the start on 20th August 2015

Years spent Beating the Beast: 1.5
Months spent Beating the Beast: 17
Weeks spent Beating the Beast: 68
Days of official challenge activity completed: 180
Total Miles Cycled: 1038.11
Total Miles Walked: 1087.25
Total Miles Run: 205.31
Total Miles Paddled: 7
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Run and Rowed in the gym: 97.63 miles
Total Distance Swum: 5,370 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam: 2,440.6
Total Height Gained under own steam: 101,091.34 feet
Mountains Climbed: 8
Hills Climbed: 35
Days of Voluntary Activity: 11.5
Organ tunes learnt and performed: 5
Salmon Caught: 0!
Bats Found:4!
Curling Matches played in: 8
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 3
Weight Training Sessions: 38
Weight shifted: 10kgs lifted over 3,258 metres or 35,320kgs moved over a metre,
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 14
Press Ups: 1,934
Pull Ups: 75
Sit Ups: 4,635
People Met and Hands Shaken: 629
Pots of tea shared: 40
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 3
Prayers joined in the street!: 4
Prayers joined in a Train Station: 1
Prayers joined in a Café: 2
Pills popped: 1,381
Days until Driving Licence (lost to epilepsy) possibly Returned: 729
And most importantly - Money Raised as at Week 68 - £11,479.

Considering I started this challenge 17 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 £63.77 for each and every day that I have managed to find the will and energy to take on an activity designed to help me Beat the Beast and my goodness it has been worth it for my peace of mind, for my healing and for the five wonderful charities you are supporting through your generosity. Long may it continue. May I also ask again however that if you are not sponsoring me to please consider it for as much or as little as you can afford. 

Thank you all for your incredible comments and support. Please continue to spread the word.

If you see me around do please give a cheery hello and shake my hand or give me a cheery wave to show your support and encourage me on.

Thank you.

Yours aye

Archie