The first half of an old joke goes ‘I don’t drink any more’. It’s supposed to finish with ‘nor do I drink any less’. For me, it’s not so much less as none. So I felt a bit weird joking on a card that I last completed the Otley Run in 2005. The card was by way of congratulations and good luck sent to a niece heading to third level glories in Leeds.
I thought that students going to Leeds for the first time should know of the dangers of the Otley Run and the Headingley Mile. I did the Otley Run as a mature (?) adult on a stag day. We had dressed the stag as a prisoner and later re-dressed him in Speedo type togs as his resistance to absurdity, indignity and humiliation weakened. And the dozen of us, and I think we were twelve, got well and truly relaxed. Our run lasted ten hours and was conducted at the steady rate of two drinks per hour. What happens on tour stays on tour and since many things are fortunately forgotten on such tours, there’s not much to hide. I recall that we got the stag posed with a couple of machine-gun carrying policeman. Perhaps I only recall this because the photo still exists.
Years ago, I fell and broke my hand walking down the second highest peak in Ireland, the flat topped Lugnaquilla. I was very lucky not to have broken anything else. My family were furious that I’d walked and fallen alone on a mountain, that the incident occurred where there was no phone coverage and that I didn’t seem to understand how serious this could have been. I wrote what I called a right handed blog that I titled Fell. If you are interested, there are also two subsequent posts, Vultures and Peaking, that complete the 2017 storyline.
I decided to have the broken bone pinned and plated. Then I endured serious physiotherapy in order to have use of my hand for a charity walk on The Yorkshire Three Peaks four weeks after the accident.
We set out for Pen-y-ghent (694 m) in a conga-like line of several hundred challengers of all ages, shapes, sizes and purpose.
Our guides reminded some overly enthusiastic folk that scrabbling above us risked dislodging rocks or sliding down onto us. My thoughts were darker; along the lines of ‘If I survive you knocking me over, I will hunt you down‘.
A group of dentists from Leeds sportingly yielded space to me on the fist ascent, Pen-y-gent, when I asked for a bit more time and showed them the scar I was protecting on my left hand.
We joked about the situation as you do in such circumstances. While I was glossing over having only recently broken my hand, one of them joked that she’d only recently done the Otley Run. And she said she wasn’t sure which one of us was the worse for wear.
All I can say is that we are lucky to live in an era of vitamins I and P (ibuprofen, paracetamol). But I should admit that walking the 40 km in twelve hours turned my newly repaired left hand into a squidgy, numb appendage for a few days. Full credit to the surgeon, it’s been perfect ever since. And perhaps fuller marks to the physiotherapist who helped me defeat the concomitant carpal tunnel agonies that the surgeon said would be chronic without benefit of his scalpel.
Yes, I do like a challenge!