In the 5th Century a bloke called Phidippides was a professional runner. To cut a very long story short, at the battle of Marathon the Athenian army was defeated the odds and gave the Persians something of a major kick in. Outnumbered 4 to 1 they launched a surprise but seemingly suicidal offensive. Astonishingly, by day’s end, 6,400 Persian bodies lay dead on the field against 192 Athenian casualties! The surviving Persians fled to sea and headed south to Athens where they hoped to attack the city before the Greek Army could re-assemble there.
Phidippides was asked to run 26 miles to Athens to carry the news of the victory and the warning about the approaching Persian ships. He had already run to Sparta and back (3 days) and had been fighting all day…but he went for it. Taking 3 hours he got the message to those concerned and promptly dropped dead from exhaustion. Out of that less than encouraging beginning, the marathon challenge was born!
You may or may not know, I am currently in training to run the London Marathon at the end of April. To be honest with you, its been a bit of an ask to get out there in the freezing cold during winter and run for what seems like an endless period of time for no reason other than to be able to run further the next time I go out. Further more, sometimes I’ve been wondering why on earth I’m doing it as in the real world I will never actually need to run 26.2 miles. I mean, there are far more civilised ways to get about…
There have been some advantages: I’ve had lots of time to think, I’ve shed a few more pounds and I can eat whatever I like (sometimes)! Furthermore, the parallels between running for hours and my life leading CVM have been profound. It’s been tough to build up the mileage. Its relentless effort for small gains. Much of the time I’m in mild discomfort and it has felt like pushing a boulder up hill. There has been no glamour in the training and much of what I have been doing has been unseen. It’s even been unappreciated! One or two people who have picked up on what I am doing have decided to stop supporting CVM because they aren’t into marathons! (If only they knew!!!)
Building a movement is much the same. Whether that is in your local community, church or across the UK. Its tough work building something brick by brick. Sometimes it feels like you have made little progress or have even gone backwards. Furthermore, it often feels that if you don’t keep pushing the boulder it will just fall back on top of you and squash you!
I’ve realised in all of this how important to me encouragement is. We really need to work on this as a national movement. I’ve been wondering how we can better support one another or link up together. Are there some core aims/values we need to all get behind as a band of brothers and put in front of all the CVM groups? Do we need to find a way to facilitate support and help as we continue to get out there and push the boulder? The thing is, just one word of encouragement from a mate when I’m training and I feel on top of the world. It means so much doesn’t it when someone really gets behind you.
A couple of years ago I spoke about friendly fire and fostering an encouraging ethos at our annual conference (look out for a podcast). I spoke then about honking geese … ask me more when you see me or google it! Needless to say, my conclusion was that we all need to honk at each other a little bit more.
Keep going brothers. Say strong, keep in touch, share the ups and downs with us and keep pushing that boulder …
Deo Optimo Maximo!