• Tom Crossland

Day 13 - The big why?

Today has been the first day that I have really felt like the pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall in to place, with a large team around me taking on the tasks that they can. Such as the social media content and contacting running clubs or runners that are coming to join me on the way around for sections.

I am so used to taking part in self sufficient or self supported expeditions, that the idea of outsourcing parts of my life has not come easily to me. It has become very apparent that I need a team around me to help me achieve this goal. I know I can complete the running part, but trying to do everything else on top of the running is just too much for me and I think contributed to grumbling legs, poor sleep and getting eating wrong.

From a very young age, I was always keen to show the world (whoever the world was) that I could capable of doing whatever it was. This was exemplified by a time when I was very young and had got my first school shirt. My mum tells me that I was sitting on the bottom step of the stairs in floods of tears trying my hardest to work out how I could do up this shirt. There was, apparently, no way I was going to accept help at in any way. I was going to do it!. I assume this stemmed from the knowledge that I was not as physically able as my peers, but I was not going to let that get in the way of me using my body beyond its current ability. This need to be 'capable' has meant that I am private about my difficulties, but am always there to help friends, family or others with their struggles.

I have a strange relationship with my cerebral palsy, I am clearly not 'disabled' by it but the differences it causes for me are always there and are so much part of who I am and why I so the things I do, in the ways I do them. The determination not to let the cerebral palsy define me made me extremely tough on myself and caused me to be angry quite a lot. Angry at myself for not being able to do whatever it was that I was struggling with or for being clumsy and dropping something. Angry at the world for being so unfair and disabling. I don't think it was until I found sport and more specifically ultra endurance sport, first adventure racing and secondly ultra running.

Runners I meet on this run keep asking me why I am doing it and I really struggle to answer that question. I assume in reality, whether I accept it or not, a large part of this run is to prove to the 14 year old Tom that he is not disabled, but why 3100 km? I mean completing a 100 km ultra marathon surely is enough evidence, if not surely completing 10s of multi-day ultra marathons is enough evidence, if not surely completing a 275 km stage race in the desert is enough evidence. Clearly not! Hopefully this will be enough.

However, there was definitely a point in my life that I realised that my cerebral palsy was limiting me. This point was when I at secondary school. Up until that time, I was in a very small class, in a very small village primary, and although I was not the best at sport I felt there was always a place for me. This changed when I went to secondary school. Looking back Kings was definitely the best school for me academically and I was privileged to have the opportunity to gain the education I did from the school. However, there was something about the way sports was organised at Kings that meant I felt I did not have a place. Not immediately, but as I progressed through the school I spent more and more time in the library than doing PE. I am unsure what it was but I learnt that I was not sporty!

Hopefully, this run will convince 14 year old Tom that he is capable of being sporty.

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