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Tess runs the London Marathon 2008

Tess Burrows
Oct 18, 2016

Why go through 26.2 miles of pain and agony?

At the pre-run Expo, runners were invited to write why they were taking part on a special wall. My message was that as the Flora London Marathon is advertised as being much about helping the heart, I wanted to run for Tibet to help the heart of humanity. The wisdom and compassion that stems from Tibet is a light for the world. It cannot be lost. Yes, help keep Tibet alive by raising funds for the Tibet Relief Fund which supports Tibetan children and monks, starving and homeless, in sickness and longing for basic education all desperately in need to survive in the world that they now find themselves in. I knew that the pain and agony in my legs would be nothing compared to the multiple and ongoing suffering of the Tibetan people.

It was around the mile 1 marker, when the first onlookers shouted for Tibet… Yeah, thumbs up for Tibet. By mile 3, I was gratefully acknowledging the support. Around mile 5, I realized that I was being carried along by a river of 35,000 other people each one going through their own private battle, raising money for charity, sharing the resources of the world, trying to make a difference . By mile 8, when the intense pain started in my knees, I knew that the flag flying on a tall bamboo pole attached to my rucksack was helping hold the profile of Tibet after all the recent press. At mile 12, spotting a lady with a Tibetan flag in the cheering crowds, I smiled and waved, so proud to be carrying the Tibetan flag high too. By mile 14, I was using the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum, to help keep my focus. Then came the man in the crowd who shouted Long Live the Dalai Lama and my legs felt like they were floating on a cloud.

At mile 18 they were pushing through heavy treacle, leaden and in trouble. But I knew that the mind is strong and it would hold the energy. Mile 19 and 20 seemed to take forever to reach and the rain continued to fall heavily trying to wash away the resolve needed. Then it was the wind which became fiercer and buffeted the flag, throwing me around, covering my face and I feared that the pole would break. After mile 22 the wonderful crowds at London Bridge, like those along the whole route, were cheering-on tired bodies and I gratefully accepted orange segments to suck. Only 4 miles to go. Yeah, here was the pain and agony, only 4 miles of exhaustion and unbelievable numbing torture yet this is nothing, just nothing like that experienced by the Tibetan people.

Mile 24, then 25 took years to float by and I thought of all the people who had sponsored me with loving comments and it spurred me on. I can do this. I can do this, became my mantra as sheer will power kicked in. The legs had long since given up, barely part of my body which swam in a sea of nausea. Others around me were walking, but I knew I had to keep running lest everything in me seized up. I can do this, I can do this, and I realized I had spoken out loud as the 800 metres to go sign came into view and I shook my cramping calves praying that they would last just a bit longer hold the focus, as Buckingham Palace swung into view hang in there, as the yellow finishing arch shimmered like a mirage hang in there hang in there Tibet we are all here for you. YES, you can run the distance Yes,we can make a difference we can do something.

It took me 5 hours and 56 minutes to run the London Marathon nearly 4 hours longer than the winner!

Carrying the flag keeps the heart going...

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Tess Burrows
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