Crisis supporter Daniel talks about his amazing 145 mile challenge in memory of his close friend Barbara:
In July, I will be attempting to run the Kennet & Avon Canal Race - a 145-mile race from London to Bristol - so I am raising money for Crisis to make something meaningful from this absurd challenge.
This will be my second attempt at completing the KACR. My previous attempt was in 2019, when I signed up on a whim concocted by my dear friend Barbara.
Barbara stumbled upon the KACR while searching for races online and forwarded it to me with the ominous words "I'm tempted by this". I made the mistake of entertaining her and replied "It would be pretty stupid. Should we sign up?". Within minutes we had committed ourselves to running 145 miles.
It was a reckless, spur-of-the-moment decision from two people who had only recently completed their first half-marathon. The same people who would go on to do very little training in preparation, and would decide to stay up until 3am the night before the race to catch up with old friends.
We crossed that start line as ill-prepared as when we first signed up. Unsurprising, we did not cross the finish line.
We ended that race in pain and with a newfound respect for how far 145 miles truly is.
Naturally, we immediately signed up to the 2020 edition.
Due to the Covid pandemic, that race never took place and it was only a couple of months after its postponement that we heard the devastating news of Barbara's passing.
Everyone that knew Barbara will have some kind of lasting recollections that encapsulate her impressively complex character. For me, I will forever remember her sense of adventure, her need to challenge herself, to move outside her comfort zone (if she even had such a thing) and her willingness to jump head first into things that others considered daft.
Too often we are afraid to challenge ourselves to embark on something new and are happy to talk ourselves back into the loving embrace of our comfort zones. I'm certainly guilty of this. But in that moment back in 2019, with Barbara's encouragement, there was no fear, or over-thinking. In fact, there was no thought whatsoever.
In amongst the pain and grief in the wake of her death, one of the few coherent thoughts I had was the idea of returning to the absurd 145 mile race that we left unfinished, as a personal tribute to the one person I knew who was courageous and crazy enough to do it.
This is how I once again find myself facing the 145 mile Kennet & Avon Canal Race.
My biggest dilemma was deciding whether to give the race the respect it deserves and train properly or honour Barbara's gung-ho spirit and enter it with the same bizarre combination of nonchalance and confidence that left us completely unprepared in 2019.
I think I have found a nice compromise, having been training seriously since the start of the year while remaining ill-equipped. I honestly have no idea if I'll finish but, as Barbara showed on numerous occasions, the fun part is challenging yourself to start.
As well as running this race as my own personal tribute to Barbara, I also wanted to use it as a platform to raise money for Crisis, a charity that offers a helping hand to people struggling with homelessness. It is a cause that was meaningful to Barbara, and a charity for which she herself volunteered.
It would be nice to come away from the race with something more positive than just sore legs and shattered joints.
Daniel, Kennet & Avon Canal Race Challenger for Crisis