Nigel Cook completes his 50th half marathon

A long time ago, back on the 22nd June 2010 to be exact, after a few too many glasses of wine Nigel decided to enter a half marathon in the Arctic Circle. At the time he was not a runner at all. That was the start of an initial challenge to try and run 10 half marathons in 8 months in 10 different countries. That completed it proved not to be the end of it. Now 7½ years later it only seemed fitting to finish the challenge (for now) running the most northerly and probably toughest half marathon yet again. So it was back to Tromso in the very North of Norway, in the middle of winter to run 13.1 miles in the dark on a course of snow and ice.
This has not by any means been an easy challenge, since he started training for the first challenge, back in 2010, Nigel has logged over 7000 miles of running, ran in 23 countries on 3 continents. He has ran a half marathon in every country in western Europe and has ran in blistering heat, pouring rain, snow, hailstones, flooding and even lightning. Since 1st January 2011, he has never ran less than 10 miles in a week, which, by creating a challenge within a challenge, kept to the training program and kept him motivated to run when he simply couldn’t be bothered. This has raised further challenges, Nigel has had to run on boats, treadmills, beaches and even ski slopes, all to cover that minimum training requirement. Almost 30 pairs of trainers have been worn out and a small fortune spent on kit, entries and travel, but almost £30,000 has been raised for Willow Burn Hospice and amazingly he carried the Olympic Torch in the 2012
So the 50th run, The Polar Nights Half Marathon, Tromso Norway, latitude 69 degrees north. Starting 3pm Saturday 6th January in the middle of the polar winter. The polar winter runs for 3 months from the start of November to the end of January, during that time the sun never rises above the horizon. For a few hours, late morning dawn and dusk quickly merge, by 3pm it is the UK equivalent of late evening, by the time he will finish the race it will be pitch black. It snowed heavily the morning of the race which made the route look very picturesque, but also challenging.
Nigel collected his number on the morning of the race and a nice little touch by the organisers in that they allocated me the race number 50.
At the half way point the course does a 180 degree turn and you pretty much retrace your steps back to Tromso City centre. It was about this time that the slight tail wind turned into a heavy head wind, which not only made running difficult, but also blew waves of snow from the fields across the track directly at Nigel. In addition, due to wind chill, the temperature dropped dramatically. He began to notice that everything had to started to freeze, including my clothes, hat and every body extremity.
At the drinks station at 8 miles the water in the drinking cups had frozen, the change in temperature had been so severe, also he managed to pick up an injury to his left knee, every time it hit the ground it was equally matched by a shot of pain. To make things even worse, given the amount of traffic on the route, more and more of it was now polished ice, which made the ground harder (more painful on the knee), and more treacherous.
However, he made it, freezing cold and in a lot of pain, he said “I have never been so glad to see the finishing straight. It took me a full 2 hours after the race, wrapped in blankets with the heating on full in the hotel room, to finally get my body to stop shivering and with the help of pain killers eventually get to the bar and have a well-earned celebratory beer”.
“All of this, plus riding the coast to coast and climbing 50 Wainwright peaks this year with Victoria has been done to raise money for Willow Burn Hospice. For those that have already supported, thank you very much, if you haven’t the Justgiving link is below, every little helps. The madness now ends and I (currently) don’t have any other life changing challenges committed to, but life is short and there may be time for one or two more yet!”
Well done Nigel!
If anyone would like to support Nigel head over to his Justgiving page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundrais…

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