I remember Stuart coming home from his annual pre-Christmas lunch with two mates in 2008 and announcing that they were all going to run the New York Marathon the following November. Given the somewhat liquid nature these lunches can take at times I have to admit I took the news with a grain of salt, but as the guys kicked off their training in earnest in 2009 it became clear they were serious about this as a goal.
I was pretty excited, I’d never been to New York and not only was I going to get to go I didn’t even have to run a marathon to be there! After much supportive Googling, I found a great location for the wives to deliver on course – a champagne breakfast at Tavern on the Green – that saw us right by the finish line, cheering loudly when the guys crossed the line.
As we all enjoyed the celebrations that evening, we had no idea of the adventures to come that had started that day – or that we would never again have the opportunity to spectate in such luxurious surrounds!
Life got pretty busy for the next few years, with business commitments leaving little time for marathon training, but Stuart never stopped running and by 2014 when the opportunity presented for the gang to reconvene in Berlin he started training in earnest again.
Berlin set the scene for another great shared experience, and Sascha and Sam were able to join the spectator crew – which was pretty handy given I was on crutches -and we raced around Berlin to cheer at different points along the way.
Given Mark and Brett had qualified for and completed the Boston marathon the year before, the guys decided that their marathon journey wasn’t going to be complete until they had run all of the World Major Marathons and claimed their Six Star Medals.
Brett and Mark ran Tokyo in 2016, but Stuart wasn’t able to secure an entry so we had to cheer them on from afar.
Stuart and Mark ran Chicago together later that same year, with Stuart running to raise funds for Girl Up – I missed that one due to Future Astronaut commitments on Necker Island, but I did watch them on the app!
Stuart ran London with the Lord Taverners Group in 2017 and I was there for that one, jumping on and off the tube to get to various viewing spots around the course.
He ran New York again later that year, supporting Epic Good Foundation Manager and good friend Anita Heiss, where we also met the Indigenous Marathon runners and heard their inspirational stories.
Boston entry times had been getting tighter and tighter, and Stuart was wondering how he was going to find a way to claim that medal when Rob de Castella called him early in 2018 to ask if he’d be prepared to mentor a young Indigenous man from the APY lands who wanted to run Boston as part of his training program for the ultramarathon he would tackle later that year. That saw the start of what has become an amazing friendship with Zibeon Fielding, and he and Stuart not only headed to Boston together but both completed the marathon in the worst conditions in the race’s 130 year history.
Stuart had just about defrosted by the following Sunday, when I joined him in London to cheer on Brett and Mark as they ran the final leg and claimed their six star medals.
Last week the gang was all together in Tokyo, where Stuart and Zib were running together again, and Stuart took possession of his own six star medal. I’m not sure that the Stuart and Zib combination is one the weather gods look on particularly favourably, it was a cold wet day but they assured me it was a walk in the park compared to Boston the year before!
The last ten years have been an amazing adventure for all six of us, with so many great shared experiences all over the world. Each of the guys have at times battled injury and illness, but have fought through and claimed their medals on each and every occasion. The spectators have done their bit too, supporting the runners through the inevitable pre-marathon paranoias where every niggle is cause for concern, and racing around marathon courses to cheer at multiple different locations in a variety of elements – we had no idea how good we had it at that first experience in New York!
It was an incredibly proud moment to see the three of them arm in arm wearing their medals on Sunday night, knowing the medals and the memories that made them will last a lifetime.