Dorota Woloszynska approached me in the early summer of 2020 during the middle of lockdown to say she was missing running races, marathon training and the camaraderie of something significant to train for.
A few trail runs later and with a burgeoning taste for the beautiful Warwickshire countryside Dorota happened to let it slip that she would be 40 years old on 1 September 2020 and in that moment an idea was born to run 40 miles on her 40th Birthday.
We started out in glorious weather and steadily ran 8.5-miles to Ryton-on-Dunsmore where we refuelled with coffee and treats from the Co-op Convenience store. We took pictures en-route and swapped stories of long runs, funny moments on the trails and encouraged those amongst us who were running their first 40-miler not to go too fast and keep eating.
We navigated North through Woolston and onto Brinklow soaking up the remains of the Medieval castle, the impressive Old Bailey and Motte and the surrounding land before pushing on along the Oxford Canal to Ansty.
We laid up at the Rose & Castle pub and ordered tea, coffee, coke and beer for some.
We used the well-deserved stop at 20-miles to socialise with some of Dorota's good friends whom had cycled to meet us as a surprise and wish her happy birthday.
The afternoon was full of hard work, sunshine, glorious single-track, gates, farm-land and laughter plus some amazing moments in the Warwickshire countryside as we met another group member's wife in a car and who had come out to meet us with supplies and yes more food at Breach Oak Lane. How very kind.
We pushed onto Corley Moor and again refuelled about 11 miles from the finish at the Red Lion with sticky toffee pudding, cups of tea and for the more hardy amongst the group a refreshing glass of cider (which also acted a mild pain killer).
At this point Dorota's partner and dog joined us to say 'hi!' and wish us well with our endeavours.
The last 25% of the run was quieter and more focussed. The pain was evident for some, less so for others, but nothing more food and more calories wouldn't fix.
The group split into two smaller groups in the last 2 miles on the traffic-free Greenway but everyone stayed together and supported each other finishing as tightly-nit unit for photos, champagne and celebrations in Abbey Fields, Kenilworth.
What will you do for your birthday this year?
I know of least one other RunWithIan family member who is considering a big undertaking this Summer for her Birthday.