(S)Miles for John

I have wanted to, but had not been able to until today to listen to any of John’s podcasts since we heard the news of his heart attack. I am very lucky to be one of the (many) runners to be interviewed by John, and even before his death I absolutely cherished these documents of my training for the West Highland Way Race and cherish them for the more now. As I listen, my heart breaks for John and so much for his wife Katrina and his family.

John was interviewing me as a first timer every 6 weeks or so for the 5 months leading up to the 2018 race as part of the race podcast series. At this time, Max and I were between homes and I was feeling lonely and without community. Being involved in the race and the podcast gave me the community I was longing for. Talking to John about my running, when the race was all I could think about, was almost therapeutic and I looked forward to talking to him each month. I have listened back to these interviews and reflected on them to learn more about how I can improve my training and they have proved an excellent form of diary. I am so grateful to John for inviting me onto his podcast, his kindness and encouragement. As I got closer to the race, I listened to as many of his podcasts as I could, comforted by them whenever I feared I could not finish the race. Even though I was new, young and had no idea what I was doing, I was always made to feel welcome in the ultra running family, and John was a big part of that.

After moving to Scotland in 2019 I took a sportscotland role as community sports officer in Argyll within the Active School team. The last time I saw John was at a sportscotland corporate event, it was so comforting to find a friendly face in a room filled with people who all knew each other and I knew no one. Through lockdown as my team were furloughed I turned to John to ask for advice as he was delivering sport to children in Glasgow (check this interview John gave about his work). In May I turned to John for advice again, this time on hosting a Facebook Live event for our business WayOutside during lockdown. John always had time to help others and even offered to host it for us when realising I was completely out my depth. We were so honoured he would do that for us. I cannot believe the last time we ran with John nearly two years ago in Oban when he and Katrina visited Oban to run the Ganavan Sands parkrun, and when Max and I went to support one his Dragon’s Back training runs along the Rannoch Moor (feature image of Max and John).

There is nothing I can say that has not already been said about John, the sheer outpouring of love and grief at his passing is a reflection of the impact and reach he had on so many. John brought joy, friendship and encouragement to everyone he met and lived passionately and generously. I really hope I can learn to live as he has.

I learnt so much from John’s podcasts and I run still with much of his advice in my mind (e.g. when in a negative head space try move to a neutral one using counting). Tonight I will drink a dram to John from the goblet he presented me with, and I will smile on every run as he did. We will all miss you. RIP John – Run In Peace x

For John’s blog and youtube channel and Run to the Hills channel

I don’t have many photos, but here are a few…

Running on the Rannoch Moor with John as he ran from Fort William to Bridge of Orchy training for the Dragon’s Back Race
Last run with John in Oban – I unfortunately ruined this lovely photo by not opening my eyes!
John presenting me with my WHW race 2018 goblet hours after I finished running for 33hrs

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