The British Consul General in 2013

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From talking to himself to the amazing feeling of crossing the line, Rupert Potter, British Consul General Vancouver writes about his experience at the BMO Vancouver Marathon on May 5, 2013. It surely is an experience to remember!

“Why am I doing this?” I ask.

There’s no-one listening of course – it’s a private conversation with myself, the sort that people running on their own often have I suppose. My legs have turned to warm lumps of tissue paper, my lungs heave and burn like bellows cast into a fire, and I’m sure I have an aneurism somewhere waiting to go.

As if this wasn’t enough, I’m now coming up to the hard part – the steep endless slope from Kits up Fourth to Blanca. If you’ve driven by and seen a red faced balding bloke who looks like he’s barely moving, that’s me.

As I contemplate my situation, a couple of Vancouverite ladies with pendulum pony tails swing past, going in the same direction, chatting, perspiration free. They seem to be sharing friendship, taking in the air, enjoying the burgeoning spring along the beach.

They must have forgotten they’re running. As well as reinforcing my own feebleness, this helpfully reminds me why I am doing this, or at least why I started.

View from The Seawall. A popular running and walking route in the Vancouver.

View from The Seawall. A popular running and walking route in Vancouver.

Arriving in Vancouver last July, I was struck by how magnificent the setting is – the mountains of the north shore, Stanley Park, the forests on the endowment lands, the beaches running around the inlet. I compared it with the less magnificent contours around my waist and decided I should be exercising it in it.

I began with short outings, exploring and getting lost. And I found, occasionally, I could actually take in my surroundings and appreciate the journey, so started to push a little further afield.

In a fit of misplaced enthusiasm, I then entered my name for the BMO Vancouver Marathon on 5 May. I had always wanted to run a marathon (no idea why – it’s just one of those things to be done). My self-imposed training schedule quickly made me realise I would not be ready in time, so almost as quickly I changed to a Half (anxious not to let the goal die totally).

In the process, I decided that if I was going to suffer for more than two hours, I should raise some awareness of a valuable local charity – the Vancouver Foundation’s Youth Homeless Initiative. Please consider donating directly. You may not know me personally, or those benefiting, but your support will make a real difference.

So as I turn the corner onto Fourth and Hill (as I now call it), I remember what this is all about: a) I am incredibly fortunate to be in this most beautiful of places; b) the contours around my waist are not yet flat like the British Fens where I lived, but they less resemble interlinking blancmanges; c) I’m raising money and awareness for a remarkable charity; and d) I’m nearing home – phew.

Epilogue/Thanks: I would like to pay tribute to all those affected and involved in the events in Boston earlier this month – they will always inspire people like me to keep going; to thank all the organisers and volunteers at the BMO Vancouver Marathon for making it possible; and to wish good luck to everyone running – full, half, 8 km or kids – why-ever you’re there. I’ll try to smile as you jog past (the only way you’d actually be following me is on Twitter @RupertPotterFCO.