Monday, 30 January 2012

Running round Heathrow Airport in our PJs

As promised here is the next instalment of the blog! In the last post I told you how I did an assembly in my PJ bottoms to 500 kids despite having nothing prepared. I also told you how Dr Ng and I almost came to blows (grossly over exaggerated - he asked me, politely, to take it easy) over my diet, my general well being and the fact that I am doing too much running for my body to handle.

With almost a full course of antibiotics down me, porridge oats lining my stomach and a new found love for Satsuma's I was ready to run again. We had run the Waterloo & City line, the Bakerloo line, the Circle line, the District line and the Northern line. Next up was the Piccadilly. This was grim for so many reasons. It was 60 miles in length. I, for some reason, have an irrational hatred for the Piccadilly line and the grimmest fact of all was that we would have to go to Heathrow, in pyjama bottoms, and run round the whole perimeter of the airport.

I was feeling a little better and we'd agreed we'd do the run Wednesday. It would be me, Martin Chapman (who ran the whole of the District line with me) and Luke Butler. My dad, unbelievably would be coming to. A 3 hour journey to hand out Mars bars, Hula Hoops and waters. No words can express how grateful I am to the old man and his black bag full of treats. My dad also worked out the route for us. We were to meet at Hounslow West tube station. From there we'd run to Hatton Cross. Then run to Heathrow Terminal 4, then onto Heathrow Terminal 5, then Heathrow Terminals 1-3 and back to Hounslow West. 6 tube stations, more miles than I cared to think about and airport security staff to dodge. This was going to be a test. Our biggest test yet.

I had read that if you wanted to walk the perimeter road you had to let Heathrow BAA know. So I rung the press office. I said 3 guys in pyjama bottoms would be running around the airport for 2-3 hours. Was this cool?! The lady on the end of the phone choked on her tea, laughed at me a little and said 'no, of course it is not cool. You need a waiver'. I had a slight issue with this. I had rung them at 16.45 - the day of the run! I wasn't backing out now. She told me there was also no pavement and that it was just run or grass that made up the perimeter fence. The waiver took a few days to approve. I decided I would keep this little nugget of information secret from the old man, the two guys I was running with, my mum and my girlfriend - had I mentioned it the run wouldn't happen and I was going to run round that airport that night. I didn't care about rules and regulations. Rules and regulations are made to be broken!

After an hour and 10 minutes of travelling I finally got to Hounslow West and met all the guys. Everyone was in decent spirits, we were PJ'd up and we were ready to do this. We would meet my dad at Terminal 5, some 7 miles from where we were standing. So we started running. Butler, Martin and I chatted our way to Hatton Cross, we got a picture of us at the tube and then we had to get on the perimeter road. They weren't lying - there was no pavement! Planes were flying above our heads, planes were taking off 100 yards to the right of us, we heard airport staff shouting but we just put our heads down and carried on running! We feared we could bring the airport to a close by sparking a major terrorist incident - 3 men in pyjama bottoms meeting a man with a dark black bag at Terminal 5 - alas we got away with it.

The run was horrendous. I mean it was real, real bleak. But we got to Term 4, then Term 5 and met the old man. We all had 3 mars bars, went into the terminal and got a picture of us at the 'International Arrivals' and then we pressed on. None of us had wallets or money on us. My dad had got the tube back to Hounslow West and we ran probably about 1.5 miles away from Term 5 when Luke Butler screamed in agony and hit the floor. Actually collapsed onto the floor. Luke has had major problems with his knees before. Most of us have. Luke and I generally can't walk for two days after a run but this was different. He was on the floor and couldn't get up. We had no money. We were miles away from anywhere. My dad couldn't meet us. This was bad. Luke stayed on the floor for a minute and Martin and I said we'd carry him back to Hounslow West. Then Luke just got up and with tears in his eyes started running. We told him to stop. He ignored us. Luke Butler ran 5 miles back to Hounslow west. I still don't know how. None of us talked. Martin and I just slowly jogged behind Luke. Luke who was just trying to get one foot in front of another, just focused on somehow getting back to Hounslow West.

I've met some brave people in my life but that was one of the bravest things I'd experienced. My friends are literally putting their bodies on the line to raise as much money as they can for Harry's charity.

That run will go down as one of the worst but we made it. Luke made it. We got to the end and felt like we had achieved something major. We run again this Wednesday - another half marathon. In a months time we take on a marathon. We've run 180 miles. We've 250 miles to go. It is painful stuff, it is hard, it is depressing at times but I am running with great people, great friends and I've never been more certain that we'll complete it.

As ever you can donate at or feel free to buy Luke some free physio sessions!

1 comment:

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