Staff blog: In it for the long run

Kevin Lelland, the Trust’s head of communications and membership, goes for a hill run with record breaking Nicky Spinks

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Nicky Spinks is an inspiration. The endurance required in achieving her 45 hours and 30 minutes fastest ever time for a double Bob Graham Round in May 2016 is to most runners (and non-runners) simply mind-boggling. While to those battling and surviving cancer, her message of hope is that she is still alive, and quite literally running at full tilt, ten years after treatment for stage two breast cancer.

I’ve got the privilege of joining Nicky for a hill run. It's good training for me having recently signed-up to run the London marathon in April 2017 to raise funds for the Trust. Going for a ‘long-run’ with Nicky may even help to calm some of my increasing nerves at taking on my first trip over the 26.2 mile distance.

We’re joined by a group of ten other runners at the entrance of the Eastgate Theatre in Peebles. As well as our rendezvous spot, the theatre is also the hub for the Peebles Outdoor Film Festival. Nicky is here to show her most recent film and to speak. She’s due on the main stage in a few hours.

The Trust is the main sponsor of the festival. It’s important to support events that bring people into the communities close to the properties we look after. The Trust’s Glenlude site is a few miles down the road. It also gives us a chance to share some tickets across a number of events, by way of thank you, with some of the people who regularly volunteer with us.

After a quick briefing from the Moorfoot runners, a local club here to support and guide us, we set off. Conditions are fantastic. It’s cold and bright with little wind. Once we’re running it’s easy to keep warm.

I’m pleased to be joined on the run by Graham Watson. The Trust’s John Muir Award manager in the Lake District has made a weekend of it. As we start our journey towards a peak called White Meldon, he tells me about a film that he saw at the festival the day before. ‘Sherpa – Trouble on Everest’, he says was really thought provoking. It’s an absorbing and visually powerful account of the strained relationship between Sherpas and the climbers they guide to the highest point on the planet.

We’re not ascending Everest today but we have hit a steep track up through some woodland.

As we reach the final push to the summit of White Meldon the group slows to a hiking pace. Even Nicky Spinks is walking – although she does seem a little less out of breath than me.

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The view from the summit across the Tweed Valley and surrounds is stunning. It’s a Kodak moment giving a wonderful perspective of the rolling landscape of the Scottish Borders. The descent back into Peebles takes less time. My gps watch tells me that we’ve covered 9.5 miles in less than two hours. It’s been superb.

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In the afternoon ‘Run Forever: Nicky Spinks & The Double Bob Graham’ is shown as part of the festival. Nicky answers questions from the audience and re-iterates that the main reason she took on the challenge was to raise awareness among cancer survivors. “I hope women and men in the early stages of cancer can look and say ‘I could still be alive in ten years’,” she says.

Nicky’s attitude and behaviour towards her achievements are really humbling. It’s a clear reminder that it’s not only what you do - it’s why you do it. I’m motivated to take that approach into my fundraising for the Trust. Training for the London marathon is hard work, but I just about kept up with Nicky Spinks on a hill run and that has been a real confidence boost.

Watch Run Forever: Nicky Spinks & The Double Bob Graham

Support Kevin’s London marathon attempt and donate to the Trust here.