When Muddy met Jimmy
...Jimmy Carr. Not *that* one; but this one's a total rockstar in my humble opinion and here's why.
Last year, I (and most of Devon, it feels) lost a totally brilliant friend. A young woman with such a love of life, who, at 37 was taken way too soon by the disease that doesn’t care who, or what it destroys: cancer. I shudder just saying the word, but Laura Weatherall-Plane was one of those girls who just stood up and faced it down at each and every twist and turn of its 8 year rampage on her beautiful body. She was incredible, not least because, almost as soon as she received the devastating news, aged just 29, she threw herself into fundraising for breast cancer charity CoppaFeel! She didn’t want anyone else having to experience what she went through.
Laura raised thousands doing crazy things, while she, literally, battled with illness (running a half marathon in the full throes of chemo). While it’s hard to come to terms with death at such a young age, every so often brilliant things distract us – and remind us that her spirit lives on.
And this is where Devon’s very own lean, mean machine Jimmy Carr enters the story. This weekend he’s embarking on a totally bonkers mission to run the entire length of the country in Laura’s honour. While most of us have been eating chocolate and bingeing on Netflix, he’s spent freezing, snowy mornings and dark nights training relentlessly, and I reckon he deserves some Muddy support.
As Jimmy departed Devon by train, planning to return in a couple of weeks under his own steam, I ruined a perfectly relaxing journey by bending his ear, so I could find out more about his plans. Can’t be faffed to get your running shoes on today? This might be just the motivation you need.
So, what’s this all about, then?
Well, this Friday, 23rd March I set off running from John O’Groats and 17 days later, I get into Lands End [I’ve inserted a dramatic pause so you can take this in for a moment].
On average that’s about 50 miles per day [I’d struggle with 1 mile…a week].
That’s the plan ….. Oh yes, and I’ll be doing it with a boob on my back.
What’s your inspiration for heaving a boob around Britain?
The inspiration to do this was the passing away of my friend. I’ve known Laura since I was 17 and she met (and went on to marry) one of my best friends, Jon. We were all at university together and have stayed close over the years. Laura, and Jon have helped me out in so many different situations in my life it would be very difficult to compile a list.
When Laura first showed symptoms, unfortunately, because she wrongly thought that she was too young to have breast cancer she didn’t go to the doctor straightaway. After being diagnosed, she had treatment and was given the all clear but then the cancer spread and she was told the dreadful news it was terminal.
But from this appalling situation came real good as Laura became a huge supporter and fundraiser for Coppafeel! In total between herself and Jon they raised over £70,000, spread the message of checking your boobs far and wide, and inspired hundreds to take on fundraising challenges.
Laura pestered me into entering the Plymouth Half Marathon in 2014, which is when I started running. When I finished I felt so rough that I swore I would never ever feel like that again. So I took up running a few times a week in order to improve my fitness.
When Laura passed away and in the awful aftermath when you just feel totally helpless, I felt like I had to do something. So I’ve been trying to raise as much awareness and money for Coppafeel as I’ve done my training as I’ll do my run. I think Laura would approve.
You’re into the final days of preparation – how the hell does one prepare to run this many miles?!
I mentally committed to do this 860 mile run in the first couple of weeks after Laura’s death so the training started back then, back in early June, 2017. I signed straight up for a local 64 mile trail run that I ran and completed in August, just to give myself an idea of what it feels like mentally to continuously move for over 12 hours at a time. Luckily, I found I rather like it! From there it’s been a case of building up the weekly mileage very gradually so that from January 2018 I’ve been running 100 miles per week [as you do].
What has been the, err, high point of your training (is there ever one?!)
It felt good when at the end of January I did two 40 mile back-to-back runs over a weekend and felt pretty much absolutely fine on the Monday. So good in fact I did a 7 or 8 mile run that day too whilst I waited for my van to be fixed at the garage …
And the low (don’t hold back, because there are millions of miserable moments, right? Right?!)
I’ve been pretty lucky with this and not experienced too many lows. Maybe one where I did something weird to my back surfing, ended up hobbling out of the water, straight into a hug from my wife Soozy that I desperately needed, and then had 4 hours on the sofa with a hot water bottle on the affected area …. luckily it wasn’t too bad – I managed to run a marathon 2 days later. [thud. That’s me feeling utterly blobby by now].
How have you managed to stay motivated?
To be honest, my motivation is Jon and Laura, and that keeps me going. Very, very easy to stay motivated.
What would you say to anyone who might be inspired by something like this, but reckons they could never even contemplate running even 1 marathon? [Like, um, me?]
It’s all about baby steps. There are so many stories out there of people who run ridiculous distances in ridiculous times who started out not being able to run for more than a few minutes at a time. Honestly, when you look into it through reading books or listening to podcasts (loads of good ones out there), people manage to run for 5 minutes on the treadmill, then 10 within a few weeks. Then they do their first 5k parkrun and so on and so on. It’s just all about making those first baby steps.
One thing I do love about running is you get out what you put in. You can literally improve week on week when you train. That helps massively to stay motivated.
What are you dreading about the experience?
Being away from my wife and two kids. I’m hardly ever apart from them and we’ve only spent a few days apart previously.
And what are you hoping to get from it?
I don’t really know to be honest. Peace? An adventure? A chance to feel like I’m doing something to show that Laura didn’t die in vain and to carry on amazing challenges in her name. I’ve already raised nearly £5,000 for Coppafeel! and hope to raise more before I finish.
What will be your go-to mental thoughts keeping you going when things feel tough?
That 37 is too young to be talking about choices of coffin for my best friends wife.
Where are you looking forward to running?
The Scottish Highlands! Never been, looks beautiful! And obviously towards Devon and Cornwall as I get to run towards home and see friends and family.
And for those who didn’t know Laura, tell us why she deserves for her legacy to be continued?
Laura didn’t let her situation stop her from living, the opposite in fact; she was determined to live every single day, every second to the full and she did that right up until the very end. She just point blank refused to have her life ruled by cancer. It took her in the end but man did she go fighting. I can’t really put it into words but she was incredible and I miss her.
You can track Jimmy’s progress over the coming days, by visiting spytrackgps.co.uk and logging in with username: firstname.lastname@example.org and password: 123456. To donate to Jimmy’s JustGiving page, visit jogleforlaura.com and follow the link.
Jimmy ran an entire country (Scotland) in 7 days, but sadly his journey was to end there, when his ankle swelled up like a balloon. He still walked an incredible 45 miles in agony before being forced to call it a day. We still think he’s an utter legend for even running one mile, so please, if you can, show him your support. Nice one, Jimmy.