After a year of training, running on roads, through prickly pine woods and getting used to people shouting at me in the street, I completed the London Marathon last Sunday… entirely barefoot!
My day started out on Blackheath, where thousands of other runners were nervously waiting and headed over to the Red start area to meet BBC 1’s Helen Skelton. She was there to interview me along with a woman who was going to knit her way around the course (!). I hadn’t expected her to tap the bottoms of my feet or say they were gorgeous, but she was pretty intrigued to know why I was running such a long way barefoot.
With that done, I made my way to the Green start, where I was keen to get a good position near the front, so I could run on the roads before they got covered in discarded water bottles and rubbish! Setting off the first half of the run was fine, but running around the East End of London was very painful as the road surfaces were not so good, they were quite abrasive. I then had to start looking out for the energy gels which people had chucked away. A splodge of that on the soles of my feet meant I would pick up small stones, which would then dig in to my feet. I had to get quite nifty at dodging these and was pretty relieved to come across the water spray areas to get my feet hosed down!
All along the way the crowd were shouting; ‘go barefoot man, go barefoot man’ and people running near men kept on patting me on the back, it was overwhelming how hundreds of people just kept egging me on, the general effort of the crowd , with a constant stream of yelling was quite extreme.
Seeing my wife at mile 12 was a high point, a quick kiss and a jelly bean and I was away again to complete the second half. By mile 23, passing the supporters at the Team Panda cheering point really kept me going, because by that point I was counting down the miles, as the road surface was really hard. On the route, I saw a guy running in a beer can and also a member of Team GB running on two prosthetic limbs, such inspirational stuff.
I’m really glad I did this, because all the money I raise will go towards WWF’s work protecting the rainforests, such an important habitat for so many species. I feel it’s helped raise awareness of their work.
I knew I had to keep going after telling everyone I was doing it, and after being on TV, a couple of people anonymously donated which is fantastic!
Thanks to everyone who supported me all along the route and through sponsoring me.
Feeling inspired? Want to join Team Panda at the Virgin London Marathon 2015? Why not enter the ballot on 22 April!
Why choose WWF? Because The Panda Made You Do It!
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