This was the only marathon that was taking place in UK at that time of the year when we visited Scotland. So I flew from Glasgow to London Stansted and after renting a car at the airport, I drove straight to Tata Mamu’s place. I stayed with him for 2 days. On Saturday, I visited my cousin, Fahd in London and spent some quality time with the family. Nadia and Zara didn’t accompany me to London as Nadia was expecting. On race day, I left London for Winchester (an hour and half journey). At the starting location in Winchester, we were taken by bus to the neighboring town of Salisbury. On the bus ride some of the runners were quite surprised that I came all the way from Canada to run such a low key event! About 10 minutes before the race start it started to rain quite heavily. Since the course was all country side trails, it became really slippery. There were some down hill stretches where it was even difficult to walk. There were a lot of hills along the way which took a big toll on me. However, the scenery was breathtaking. The biggest challenge was at the 18 mile mark, where we had to run up a hill that continued for the next 3 miles. That was when I decided to quit, and I almost did. But then I realized that I still have to climb the hill to get to the finish line as I was in the middle of nowhere. As usual, I had the mental strength to continue and so I did. About a few miles from the finish, there was a beautiful golf course which helped me take my mind of the pain and move on. I finally finished the race under 6 hrs and there were a sizeable number of people at the finish line to greet me. I stayed back for the post race massage and by the time I left Winchester it was already 6pm. My flight from Stansted was at 9:30pm which I thought was enough to get me to the airport. Little I knew, I was stuck on the M25 for over 2 hours and by the time I reached the airport, it was only 30 minutes left for the flight to take off. I didn’t even have enough time to fill the gas, so just left the keys at the counter and rushed to the terminal. The final twist came when I went to the wrong gate and with 10 minutes left before take off, I was stuck in the tram and didn’t know where to go. Luckily, an airport attendant came to my rescue as she called the airline to wait for me and then took me from a short cut to the plane. I just got there in time before the doors closed. This was a close call. Had I missed this flight I would have to wait till next morning and would have surely missed my flight back to Toronto. All in all, a great adventure that had a happy ending!
Ziyad Rahim is an adventure-runner from Pakistan. He currently holds 10 Guinness World Records in long-distance running, ranging from marathons to ultra-marathons.