A friend told me that my name was mentioned in a recently published book ‘Grit Under My Nails‘ by Henda Salmeron. I first met Hendra during the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon in 2012 and again in 2017 when she was running the Way of Legends and I was on the crew.
I bought the book and searched for my name. I soon found it: “And Ed did” I was very pleased with that, it said a lot. Like most pieces of art we need to stand back a little to fully appreciate its power and beauty. The previous sentence said “Her instructions were simple: “Get her home“. I think from that you can deduce that there was a problem and I was expected to help overcome it. Think a little deeper and you might realise that the instructions were simple with no detail, indicating that the person who said “Get her home” had confidence in my ability.
Look back a little further and you discover that Henda was running a 160 mile multi-stage race in Spain to celebrate her 50th birthday. It was day 3 (a relatively easy 29.5 mile stage) and things were falling apart due to the perimenopause (men you might have to Google that). “I sat on a fallen tree tree stump next to a dirt trail and cried while praying that the race director would show up in his car so I could quit on the spot.” That didn’t happen and Henda got to a checkpoint. Annie Dougall, a good friend who I meet in the Kalahari, wouldn’t let her quit and walked the 6 miles to the next checkpoint where she handed her over to Dr Laura Watson, a very experienced race medic and ultrarunner. It was Laura who said “Get her home”
Henda could have written about how she sat in a field and cried her eyes out while I sat there with my arm around her, before I gradually coaxed her to carry on. How I talked when needed and kept quiet when it was appropriate. How she cried some more and how she babbled on about some quite intimate subjects; the sort of things I was not comfortable talking about even with my wife. But she didn’t. Instead she wrote. “Her instructions were simple; “Get her home”. And Ed did.”
That says a lot about the experience; too raw and painful to describe. And a little about me, I don’t make a fuss, I just get on and do it; I’m reliable.
I think I would like my epitaph to be: “Ed Did”