Monday, November 12, 2007


Shortly after posting my race report I disappeared over to St Annes again. The situation with my grandmother isn't good. By the time I saw her on Friday, she was weaker than she had been, and very very confused. She's back in hospital. What I missed, and what my family didn't tell me until I got back, is that she went through a phase where it was more than a bit of docile confusion, but involved her running up and down the street half dressed, ranting and raving, and needing the police and ambulance crews to come and calm her down. My mother is almost relieved that she doesn't have the strength to do that at the moment.
I had hints that something was wrong when I was in America, but Mum said that it could wait til I got home, and didn't give me the gory details. What surprised me, though, was that instead of worrying on my own, and withdrawing into myself, I actually talked to other people about it - even though they were people I'd barely known a week earlier. I made sure my mum called me with the update before we went our separate ways from Heathrow, so I had someone to talk to if the news was bad. I always tend to keep my worries to myself, so to feel so comfortable with comparative strangers really was unusual for me.
I don't tend to be hugely sociable, and the thought of spending a week on holiday with strangers was a bit daunting, but somehow we became a team, and a close one at that. We went round New York together, we shared jokes, we looked out for one another, and I had a better time than I can remember having for ages. I actually managed to switch off from all the stress of home and work, and just lived in the moment, young and free in New York.
I've never really been part of a team like that before. All utterly focussed on the same thing, getting Matt round safely, and all helping each other to do it. We became more than a group of individuals, and bonded like never before.
Well, all of us except one. For all the talk that we were a team, and that we would stick together, there was a rift the size of the Grand Canyon in the camp. None of us would dare deny that the guy organising the trip had done a fantastic job to pull it off and make it all happen, but that does not give him the right to behave like an arse to the rest of us. For large portions of the trip, his main concern seemed to be making sure that he was in shot when the BBC were filming, and making sure that he was surgically attached to Matt. The rest of us were little more than bodies and a source of funds for the trip, without individual personalities or concerns. Our offers of help were turned down, and we were given the minimum of information about where we were meant to be, when, and how we were meant to get there. On the morning of the race he sorted out transport for Matt to get him to the buses (and he naturally travelled with Matt), and gave us no clue how to get there - which turned out to be walking as the subway and buses weren't running so early.
Maybe it was built up into more than it actually was, because we were stressed about the marathon, and I was worried about the situation at home. It was only after the race that we started to relax, be ourselves, and have some fun. Maybe if he'd been around then, he'd have loosened up a bit too. But that didn't happen, and that's the thing I can't forgive him for.
At the end of the race, Laura, Gina and Paul (who had been helping her) had just about caught us up at the 26 mile mark, and moved slightly ahead. Chris wanted us all in a line behind Matt as we crossed the finish, but by that stage Laura only had one speed, and to stop or slow down would have led to her legs seizing up. There was time for Matt to overtake her slightly to get in the right position. Chris had a go at Laura, which led to a memorable shout of "fuck off Hawkins". We didn't know how seriously he'd take it.
I didn't go out with them on the Sunday night. I'd had one drink in the hotel bar, but when we got to the restaurant and were waiting for a table I realised I didn't fancy anything on the menu, shortly before the room started spinning and I fainted. After that I rested in my room for a bit before nipping to Starbucks for hot chocolate and a cake. On the Monday morning most of us went for breakfast together, and on the way back we walked past Chris, who looked the other way and pretended not to have seen us. That was the last we saw of him.
On Monday evening we texted him to see if he wanted to come for a meal with us, and he said he had other plans. We asked what they were and when they'd be finished, so we could meet up later. No response.
On Tuesday morning we were getting quite worried because no-one had seen him for 24 hours, he wasn't answering his mobile, and he wasn't in his hotel room. A few hours later we finally tracked him down - in England. He hadn't bothered to tell anyone he was leaving, and it took a while to work out where our flight tickets were. I'd say that sitting at JFK waiting for a flight home is a bit more than "other plans", when we texted him on Monday evening. Even worse, it turned out that he'd made these plans on Saturday night, so the whole time he was lecturing us out on the course about sticking together as a team (which we were doing, but for Matt, not him), and shouting at us because we were "running in the wrong place" and meaning people couldn't see Matt, he was actually planning to leave the rest of us, but wasn't planning to tell us. Some team spirit, that.
I can forgive him for going home if he wasn't enjoying himself. I can't forgive him for going home without giving us an explanation, and worse than that, not telling us when asked directly what he was doing on Monday night. And spending 7 hours running a bloody marathon without thinking to tell us that all his talk about team spirit was a load of hot air.
Although at the end of the day though, it's him who missed out, so tough.


Blogger Brigitte said...

your blog is amazing, your story is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

11:58 PM  
Blogger Lightning said...

Hum, what a wierdo!

And you're right, it was him missing out on everything. People are funny!

9:11 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

I'm sorry to hear your grandmother is getting weaker. I wish you and your family well at this time.

I enjoyed reading about Matt's marathon and the wonderful support your team gave him. It is a shame that the organiser's behaviour was so mean-spirited. I'm glad to hear that the rest of you bonded so well and that you had such a good time together.

11:18 AM  
Blogger t__m__i said...

I thought it was revealing that you didn't withdraw but this was exactly what the organizer did. Burnout do you think?

7:26 PM  

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