Wednesday 8 May 2024

Three Forts Challenge and The REP Bluebell Run 2024 galleries now live

 "We all face challenges in our lives, and it's how we come to meet them and raise ourselves up that marks the measure of onself." said the Vice Chariman of American Express to me one day, as he pulled himself up to his full 6ft4in height, (yes, that is the No2 most senior person in the whole of American Express worldwide), after I'd asked him "How's the new job?" whilst earnestly washing my hands in the mens loos.

"We all face challenges". Try it this way - do the 3 Forts Challenge wearing a T-Shirt saying "Death", and see if that's not a pretty hardcore way to tackle a tough half marathon. I didn't have a go at him about his number not being on his tshirt.

The background is that after spending 30 years being just focused on one side of Amex - the cardmembers, he had - without any notice - been put in charge of the other side - Merchant Services - ie Shops accepting Amex Cards. It had been 2 weeks since his unceremonious job change, and to be honest - he looked Haggard. The Chairman had dumped it on him and he was showing it.

Life has it's ups a downs. Weirdly for running it's the ups that can cause the downs.

And there I was, Mr unknown by comparison, running a "be nice to new customers" program across 7 countries and a multi-million dollar budget with over 250 staff around the world making phonecalls to new customers, thinking - If HE can be screwed over in an instant - what chance have I got here?

So, that combined with wanting to see more of my brand new kid, (instead of commuting - this was before working from home was really a thing) meant the best way for me to rise up to the challenge was to quit, because I sure as hell wasn't in control of my destiny there. 

As all cancros runners know - they're not really in control of their destiny

And neither was he, he sadly passed away on the company jet flying back to New York from a heart attack/clot, I'm reminded he died aged 55. it's almost 9 years since that happened, and almost 16years since I chatted to him, but the whole episode has stuck in my mind. I'm one year off his last birthday now. It's a bit ominous.

And more to the point - what have I done in that time since that conversation and closing in on being the same age as he reached ? I think one of the most shocking things was and is that he was only 11 years older than me - but when I was 38, and he was only 49, he looked more like 59. He died 6 years after I left, and that was indeed terrible and tragic. I don't think he exercised much, and I'm often aware that runners tend to look younger than non-runners. (ref to Bon jovi groupies in the last blog)

when facing challenges, it's important not to surrender on the harder bits

More broadly - do I think I would have been able to be the vice chariman of anything aged 49 just before Covid hit home ? Nope. and do I ever want to be - Nopey nope. Doesn't matter that I have an MBA from a top business school. I watch back at my colleagues from those days and see the survival of the most political in the higher levels, and perhaps also those more willing to say "yes boss" so they're not the next one to be sacked, and more readily willing to sack entire departments instead. It was indeed a bit of a psychopathic playground for management - sack or be sacked, always reorganise to make whatever was necessary to look more efficient. It was an endless cycle every 2-3 years.

But here I am, typing a blog that has a distribution of over 25,000 and I wonder to myself - is that a measure of success comparable to perhaps Amex having 76,000 employees ? ( I mean it's not a bad feat to have so many subscribers who haven't unsubscribed yet ! What keeps you here anyway ?

what keeps you here ? the runs, the views, the happy people enjoying their thing ?

Which brings me onto a lovely bit of feedback from Sundays 3forts given in person whilst I was sat at the finish line, (because no, I get almost zero feedback on the blog, and for all my wafflings and the general state of the union speeches I could write - i get effectively zero feedback - except you unsubscribe, or you don't. Please don't !)   and - the feedback was they liked the photo captions and the general comments. Which frankly is lovely to know and to be appreciated, so thank you.

I shouted "do you like the blog?" all I got was a happy double thumbs up. That'll do grommet.

So here's some more photos and captions.

Usain Bolt wasn't firing an arrow - he was pointing at the drones

By the way - The 3 forts and the REP Bluebell Galleries are now live and online for free downloads.

For those of you who have recently competed in other local events and been asked to pay, all I can say is sorry, not our events, all the event organisers we work with wouldn't dream of such a thing, and unerstand the whole point of driving value for money out of your entry fees and then enhanced repeat participation and loyalty to their races - which means a steadily growing race. 

Parkrun - you've been tangoed...

If your races aren't long enough, get a dog to take you on the zig zag

He was trying to point at the barcodes he'd carefully folded over, thereby slowing down the cataloging process for everyone meaning you got your photos later than possible.

if this isn't the picture of a happy day out on the downs, then I don't know what is ! 

oh ok, this might be even more of a picture of happiness out on the Downs !

If this isn't the picture of how to face your challenges, and win at them, going out in the world in leopard print leggings, and just doing it. Why the hell not ! and you do you !

So, frankly that's enough of my musings for one night. I hope the local elections got you all you asked for, and I'll leave you with the rather interesting fact I learned from the BBC today that more Americans have booked flights to Paris to see Taylor Swift, than have to see the Olympics. Quite what that says about the minority of the American population that are actually passport wielding citizens, and you might also begin to understand why - when faced with the challenges that life threw at me when I was at Amex, I chose to tread a different path. And if you're not sure how insane America is, and also how little anyone else cares about what you do - just watch what Trump is getting away with and his behaviour, and look at how few words were written about Ed Gilligan in the wikipedia page I refered to him above. Zilch, nowt, not much.

Nobody cares more about your happiness and health than you. So prioritise it, get out there, do that running, and enjoy yourself - because nobody will be writing your wikipedia entry about it except yourself. Nobody Cares, so be free and do what you want to do (as long as it's legal please).

Until next time, and I hope you don't have a twisted ankle and still ruptured achillies like me... enjoy yourself silly.


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