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John Levison: back on the run
Posted by: JohnLevison
Posted on: Monday 28th January 2013


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Tri247 Editor John Levison finally gets to pin a race number on again...


Ironically I suppose, the Berkshire College of Agriculture was an appropriate venue to be making my first steps to what might be termed, "getting back on the horse." While I did see a couple of horses around the course, I certainly had no plans or desire to be riding one. I'll stick to the trail running shoes thank you.

Saturday's first Xendurance Off Road 10k Trail Run from F3 Events was a very small milestone for me, as it represented the first time since 2010 I had taken part in (I hesitate to say 'race'...), a running event, whether standalone or part of a triathlon - and for much of the last 30 or so months I wondered whether I would ever do so again.

After struggling for several years with any form of running and hating every step of what I was still trying to do, in August 2011 somewhat out of the blue I was told that I needed a triple heart bypass. That sort of explained why I wasn't running very well...

On Thursday 25th August 2011 some amazingly clever surgeons applied the General Anaethetic, cut open my rib cage and did their quite incredible work - and I now have several arteries from my left leg doing the work in my heart that the knackered ones could no longer do.

Post operation scars

Shortly after I was discharged, my surgeon told/warned me "you have to realise that your competitive days are behind you." Well, I think he did, though I may have chosen to gloss over that bit...

It's been a long old process since then, and plenty of times in which I thought that I would never run with a race number on again. After initially making excellent progress back to health/fitnes in my recovery program, side effects from some of the tablets I was prescribed had taken the best part of a year to understand and deal with.

During this time I have been swimming a lot, and swimming well. Somehow - well, thanks to my wife's awesome coaching/encouragement and a lot of hard work - I now swim better than I have at any point in my life, and am still improving and getting stronger every month. I even really enjoy swimming now, strange eh?! But, the running has proven difficult - and as someone who was a 'runner', you always want to feel that joy and freedom of running again.

Start of the F3 Events Xendurance Trail Run, Jan 2013

Having managed to resolve most of the side effects issues (by stopping taking most of the drugs!), I've actually been able to start enjoying running again. Not fast at all - and unlike the swimming, I know I'll never get even remotely close to any lifetime PB's here - but just being able to run has been great, and being able to participate in an event was hopefully just another step on this journey. Simply completing the course, working hard, feeling good (well, perhaps not on that steep hill...) and finishing with a smile was the aim. Objective achieved.

Start of the F3 Events Xendurance Trail Run, Jan 2013

Credit to F3 Events here - they have found a superb new venue for the Xendurance Off-Road Duathlon / Trail Runs Series - and with three more races in the series in Feb/Mar/Apr and entries for all events open, I'm sure we'll see that the competitor numbers will increase race-by-race through the series as word gets out. The course was excellent, with a great mix of varied surfaces, hills, mud and more to keep you challenged and focussed. It wasn't an easy course - but it wasn't too extreme either. Free car parking close to the start/finish, a cafe serving hot drinks & food by the finish plus instant chip timing.

If you want to do some off-road running events (or the accompanying Duathlons) this winter in a great environment, but the competitive levels of your county cross-country league seem a little daunting, then this is the sort of race for you.

I'll be back next month for another go. Must get some more training in before then, as one thing has not changed since that last race in 2010 - my wife beating me...

Lesley Levison at the F3 Events Xendurance Trail Run, Jan 2013


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