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Growing up at Manly Beach in Sydney, Australia we had a running store directly across the road from the beach. It’s not there anymore, replaced by a café. It was called The Runnery. The owner was a guy we knew as Geordie George and he was a great runner himself and was always spotted racing at the many fun runs and trail type races that were so common at the time wearing a Nuns Habit ( a type of promotion for the Runnery (rhymes with nunnery I suppose) the shop was very tiny and although at that stage I wasn’t really a runner, I often was in there for whatever reason. Covering the walls of The Runnery were old Nike promotional posters. You might remember them; the tag line was ‘there is no finish line.’

I remember one in particular; it was of a lone runner on a single road in the middle of America. The road stretched endlessly behind him and the same in front, hence the ‘no finish line’.

I loved that poster, and it definitely was the catalyst for a lifetime of endurance events for me.

I can remember a particular day; I was probably 17 or 18 at the time and hanging out most days at the Manly Lifesaving Club; I watched as Geordie ran lap after lap of the promenade that runs parallel to the beach. For those not familiar with one of Australia’s best beaches if you measured from the top of the boat ramp at the southern end of the beach to the wooden steps outside the Queenscliff surf club at the northern end of the beach it is exactly one mile.

Eventually Geordie stopped running and I asked what was up. ‘My 40th birthday today Woody I’m celebrating it by running 40 miles’. ‘Why 40 miles and not 40 kilometres?’ I asked.

‘Too easy, needs to be a challenge. I owe this to myself. It’s a debt I need to pay,’ Geordie said.

There you have it. Needs to be a challenge.

For some stupid reason I wanted to pay that debt also.

On the morning of my 20th birthday, I strapped on the shoes and headed to Manly Beach promenade for 20 laps (20 miles). On the morning of my 30th (30 miles). On the morning of my 40th (40 miles). On the morning of my 50th (50 miles). Heading into 60 I decided, to pick a course that was very challenging. (See Strava file of Cornwall’s south-west coast path) I felt a need to suffer greatly (for some reason).

My wife asked ‘why don’t you just do 60 kilometres’? ‘Too easy. Needs to be a challenge. I owe this to myself. It’s a debt I need to pay’, I said.

At 4am on the 5th of April, the morning of my 60th birthday I pulled on the Hoka’s and jogged into the darkness. 14.5 hours later I stumbled back into the driveway.

I’m definitely not wishing the next ten years way but 100% when the debt is 70 miles, I’ll be ready to pay up.


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