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Interview with Groundhog

Serendippily asks: Congratulations :-) What inspired you to embark on the 100 marathon challenge? Ps the blog you wrote about your running journey, where you ended up chairman, is one of my favourites

Groundhog says: Thanks Dipps. I got to run London in 2013 through my running club and that one marathon could have been it if I had hit my 4:30 target. I had an injury 2 weeks before and managed 4:35. I did Portsmouth later that year in 4:15 and someone said to me "You could go sub-4", so I had another attempt and I managed it at Abingdon. Then around that time (late 2014) one of our club members was doing a 52 marathons in a year challenge and mentioned to me that there were fewer people each year reaching 100 marathons than climb Everest. I thought "I hate heights, so why not give this a go?"
chunkywizard asks: Congrats GH, well deserved! My question is, what three things do most Fetchies not know about you?

Groundhog says: Thanks CW. Blimey, I'm trying to wrack my brains about things I haven't blogged.

1. I grew up in Yorkshire, Leeds in fact and that is probably where my love of hills comes from.

2. I don't think I ever got over being a poor student in the 1980s which is why I can't bear to throw anything away if it might be useful later in life or I haven't had a good go at trying to fix it.
3. I'm a keen motorcyclist and have owned a bike of some sort for over 30 years. I used to ride nearly every day to get to work pre-COVID, but when we get back to working in an office I might be cycling a lot more. I currently own a 2007 Triumph Tiger 800 and also a 1976 Kawasaki z650 which has been in bits in the garage for 10 years. One day I'll get around to restoring it.
westmoors asks: Congratulations Groundhog. If you could meet anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?

Groundhog says: Hi Westmoors. Thanks for your question. I love meeting new people and my family get a bit impatient with me sometimes when I stop to chat to random strangers when we are out. I remember seeing you twice at Bournemouth marathon in 2019 and that was a particular highlight, though I think your colleagues at the aid station thought I was a bit daft for stopping for a chat mid-race.
From sport I would like to meet Steve Ovett. He was my athletics hero in a golden age of British middle distance running when I was growing up. I loved watching him at his best, blasting past the opposition and finishing with a huge smile on his face. We could talk about motivation and loving what you are doing.
From music it would have to be Mick Jones from both The Clash, my all time favourite band and Big Audio Dynamite, also one of my favourites. I would talk with him about writing, music and life on the road with the only band that matters.
From real life, though, I think I would quite like to go for a walk with my mum. A simple thing, but I haven't seen her for ages and that would make us both smile.
McGoohan asks: Well done, highly deserved. My question: you have been asked/have decided to invent your own race of whatever distance and terrain you fancy. What and where would it be? As we're speaking hypothetically, I think you can also assume no current epidemics for your event!

Groundhog says: Thanks McGoohan. Nice question. I would like an event where as many people I know could turn up and take part, so there would have to be 10k, half and full marathons with enough time to walk or run any of them. I love trail events and some of my favourite times running have been in Dorset, so it would be there, near the coast, tea and scones at the aid stations and free ice cream at the finish, but only 99s (my race, my rules!) :-)
RRR-CAZ 🇬🇧 asks: Well done GH. If you were able to get golden tickets to any sporting event what would you pick to watch ?

Groundhog says: Thanks CAZ. This is a tough one. Sporting events I love to watch are cycling and athletics. I would love to be on Mont Blanc with a load of crazy Dutch people for the Tour de France, but that actually doesn't require a ticket, just a camper van and shed load of booze. So I'm going to go for the 10,000m men's final at the Olympics, assuming it happens this year. I saw Mo Farah on a training run while I was doing a marathon along the Thames near Walton and he looked amazing just jogging. Plus Japan would be loads of fun.
HappyG(rrr) asks: Congratulations GH. How did you first find FetchEveryone.com and what are you favourite things about it? Congrats again? :-) G

Groundhog says: Thanks G. I think it was a recommendation from Mr.K that led me to FetchEveryone. As a bit of a stats geek, I like that there is so much information on analysing your activities, but there is also advice on every topic related to any activity, pass-time, hobby or personal problem. My favourite threads this year have been 700 miles in 2020 (now 2021), Support for parents of teenagers, Joke a day..., What do you know today that you didn't know yesterday and recently the Streaky bacon thread. Then the blogs of McGoohan and Fellrunning have been particular highlights.
Most importantly for me Fetch is full of lovely people where you can be just whoever you want to be and be appreciated for it.
Chrisity asks: If you could choose one person with whom to run a scenic half marathon trail, not as a race, who would that be? Congrats and Well done.

Groundhog says: Hi Chrisity, I like this and have been wracking my brains about whether there would be any famous person who I would like to run with, but I can't think of any. I think that actually I would like to go for a run with NRGEE. Some good things would have to have happened for a run like that to occur and I am sure she would be thrilled at the thought of being able to run for a couple of hours or more. I'm imagining early morning sunshine, peaceful woodland breaking out to a view over purple heather. That would be glorious.
Pothunter asks: Congratulations! I look forward to having a beer at a future TBC :-) Who are your sporting and non-sporting heroes?

Groundhog says: I'm really looking forward to a post COVID TBC beer, Pothunter. In Athletics it was Steve Ovett who I mentioned above. I'd also have to say Steve Cram as well. His world record run in the mile at Bislett in 1985 is a joy to behold. His last lap is what I'm channelling as I come into the last half mile of a race.

Outside of sport I'm not sure. Nobody famous springs to mind and picking movie stars or authors seems a bit shallow. I am more inclined to think of ordinary people, like those on Fetch that deal with what seems like impossibly hard situations and still manage to get through it all and support those around them. In that vein, I am forever grateful that my wife agreed to go on a second date all those years ago and does a great job of looking after me and the kids. She has managed to find a way of coping with huge stress this last year, so she's also my hero.
Snail asks: Congrats Groundhog. Of the Fetch badges that you have earned - which of them were you most pleased to achieve?

Groundhog says: Thanks Snail. The badge that took the most effort and planning was getting the One True Ring in FetchPoint. I saw that The Ring was just east of Swindon so caught the train there from Sandhurst. The day before it got moved to Swindon station by BarefootEm, but it could have gone much further and it was just luck that it ended up in the perfect place. So I collected it and cycled South to Avebury and then home a total of 70 miles. Because of a server breakdown I couldn't upload until I got home so I didn't know if I'd got it till the evening.
TeeBee asks: Congratulations GH. Where/when are you planning to do you 100th marathon, and what will your running focus be once you've completed it?

Groundhog says: Thanks TeeBee. My 100th marathon was planned for 28th March this year at one of Saturn Running's events-but who knows how lockdown will pan out? The two marathons I needed to do before March have both been cancelled. I had originally planned to fill my last 6 or 7 marathons with interesting trail races, but COVID screwed that. I wanted to pick a local race where people can do any distance they like from 5k to ultra marathon. It's a lapped course and I think it will be from Wokingham Waterside Centre near Reading with a trail course along the Thames path to Sonning. It's a lovely place for a run and I'm hoping that whenever it happens there will be lots of people I know there.

After that I won't be giving up marathons - I have Hampshire Hoppit, Farnham Pilgrim, London and Beachy Head in the calendar, so only 7 marathons in 2021 :-) My short term goal is to recover and train properly for a marathon and actually run the whole thing in a decent time, maybe a PB. That might be London. I won't give up marathons, but I think I would like to get back some speed and fitness. Oh, and I just remembered - another casualty of COVID was parkrun and getting to my 500th run, so that's another ambition.
Ness asks: Congratulations on MOTM. What is the best piece of advice you have been given for either running or life in general?

Groundhog says: What a lovely question, Thanks Ness :-)
I have a couple, one practical about kit and another about mental resilience. The first one someone said to me and the second was something I figured out for myself.
Regarding buying shoes - never leave the shop with shoes that aren't perfectly comfortable, but if you can't do that and find after one run that they hurt, send them back. I don't believe anyone can ever wear in a pair of running shoes and who would really want to put the effort and pain in to "breaking in" shoes? Pain leads to anger, anger leads to hate, bad shoes lead to the Darkside.

Having run a lot of marathons, many of them quite slowly and carrying some kind of injury, it would be easy to let that get on top of me and focus on all the negative aspects of how unfit and I am, how much pain I am in, how heavy I am...I could go on, but in a race, or in life in general, if I did that I would never start anything, let alone finish. At every event there is always something to learn, someone to meet again, new people to run with, something beautiful to see. If you always look out for little things that can make you smile, you will find the miles pass much more easily.
pedroscalls asks: Congrats GH, my question is, if time and money were no object what race or route would you love to run?

Groundhog says: Thanks Pedro. I have a few runs that I would like to do and they would be either parkruns or marathons. For marathons I have a bucket list that includes Tromso midnight sun marathon, and Athens marathon, but closer to home I would like to do Loch Ness marathon with friends from my running club and Fetch. If I had a fantasy run it might be something a bit silly like a running tour round Islay with aid stations at all the distilleries :-)
The parkruns I'd like to do include Crissy Field by the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, Cape Pembroke parkrun on the Falkland Islands and, because I have always wanted to go to Japan, I'll say Futakotamagawa parkrun in Tokyo. (I know what you're thinking now, "That's easy for you to say! :-)
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