5 Marathons in 5 Days: Day 5 - Robin's Account
So here it is. The morning of the final day and for once in this experience I am genuinely beginning to feel as if I am starting to fall apart. Getting out of bed is an up-hill struggle, every part of me is in a wall of pain. As I make my way to the bathroom, I start to hobble across the room like a demented pirate - all that I need is a parrot on my shoulder to complete the effect. Between this and Alan calling me Rodney last night at dinner, I am beginning to wonder when I will be able to reclaim my true identity and how long its going to be before I can walk normally again. If you remember the Wooden Tops, Bill and Ben or the original Thunderbirds from the 1960s you will know what I mean.
Today is a shorter route, just 16 miles, and we are being joined on our journey by Malcolm White one of the Museum's Trustees and former RAF Air Commodore who saw active service in Bosnia and during the First Gulf War. Malcolm is what you would call a good egg - nothing phases him and given some of the stories that he can tell, I'm sure that the miles, despite the pain, will melt away.
Not only is our route shorter than previous days, but we are also on an exact deadline so that we can make it to the Museum for 4.00 pm. For the final few miles we are joined by the Museum's CEO Maggie Appleton who guides the route to the Museum, but before this happens we have to negotiate the inclement weather. Alan, ever resourceful, has loaned me a black poncho, which he claims makes me look like a crumpled Batman...so apparently after being Rodney yesterday, I am now Batman and Robin at the same time!
The last few miles are tough, and it is great to have Malcolm and Maggie along to motivate us, but I am even more grateful to have James Wood with us a PTI from RAF Wycombe: I can just imagine either Alan or I twisting an ankle or straining a Hamstring in the final few miles which would make reaching our goal even more difficult.
Finally we turn a corner and London's site is there, in front of us. Not only that, but some wag has placed a First World War ambulance there, just in case! I'm tempted to cadge a lift to our finishing point, just in front of the Lancaster in Bomber Command Hall, but I having come this far, I'm certainly not going to give in.
The Reception that we received from the Staff at the Museum was wonderful. About 30 of them were waiting at the Main Gates to escort both myself, Malcolm and Robin into the building.There were hugs and quite a bit of clapping as we walked through the Museum and then before us, our finishing line - the Mighty S for Sugar with a congratulatory banner across its base.
There then followed a short presentation, where Alan and I received a pair of medals, as did Malcolm. Gaynor, Alan's wife, who had been acting as our support throughout the previous 3 days, received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from everyone at the Museum - which was an unexpected but well deserved token of appreciation. Bomber Command itself rang with laughter as both Alan and I received our Welcome Gift Packs consisting of bath-soak, foot plasters and a bottle of Spitfire Ale.
Then it was over to me to thank everyone who assisted us throughout this project, for their help and assistance. Apologies, if I inadvertently overlooked anyone, but by now tiredness was seriously beginning to kick in. It was particularly gratifying to have the Queen's representative for London, The Deputy Lord Lieutenant Martin H.C. Russell present who gave a wonderfully witty speech about our achievement; after which it was a quick quaff of prosecco, very welcome, and then back to daily life.
In the intervening days, walking has been a bit if a challenge, but I'm not as stiff as I was on Saturday morning. Alan, who apparently, has the constitution of an ox, was fit enough to watch his beloved Chelsea trounce Watford 4-3 at home on the Monday; after spending the entire weekend doing work for the Sports Grounds Safety Association and proofing his new book.
Would we do it again? Without hesitation. It has genuinely been an honour and a privilege to fund raise for such a noble cause. And 'though there has been pain and tears (see previous blogs) there has also been a wealth of camaraderie and laughter. Personally, having seen the latest renditions of what London's site will look like in 2018, the RAF Centenary can't come quick enough. Both Alan and I have been honoured to play a small part in making this vision become potential reality.
Alan and Robin's 5 Marathons in 5 Days is proudly sponsored by Shepherd Neame's Spitfire Kentish Ale.
If you would like to assist Alan and Robin in reaching their target of raising £100,000 for the RAF Museum's RAF Centenary Programme, you may make a donation here.