Charity runner spent 50th birthday in midst of 10-day 584km odyssey

By Barrie Hudson - 3 June 2022

Charity
  • The sun made its mark

    The sun made its mark

Highworth man Richard Bailey celebrated his half-century during a gruelling run from Bordeaux to Barcelona.

Richard suffered a stress fracture during his run
Richard Bailey's 10-day journey took him from the heart of Bordeaux to the heart of Barcelona, and along the way he experienced everything from a stress fracture of the foot to being escorted by French police from a tunnel he strayed into.
He was running in aid of the Bowel Cancer UK charity, which he chose for a very personal reason.
Richard has a condition called Familial Adenomatous Polyposis, and was diagnosed at 25, only a few years after the illness became known to medical science. It causes polyps in the colon which can become cancerous, and for Richard it meant the It meant the removal of his entire large bowel.
The condition is so rare that it has no charity of its own, so he chose Bowel Cancer UK. Richard's run has so far raised more than £5,000.
Richard, who has been a dedicated runner for about 12 years, said of his 584km feat: "I'm delighted to have done it.
"There's a website, Fastest Known Time, and I uploaded my route and they accepted it."
The data can be seen at fastestknowntime.com/athlete/richard-bailey, and Richard's JustGiving page is https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/richard-bailey36 
Richard, who works as Wines and Spirits Director with Swindon brewery Arkell's, kept a daily record of his 10-day run, including the distances he covered and the starting and finishing points:
 
Day One - to Gans - 66km
Richard spent the night in a small bed and breakfast, run by a man who appeared to be in his mid-60s and his elderly mother. The friendly pair provided him with a large container of soup.
Day Two - Gans to Nerac - 57.74km
"I found that after 40k everything seemed a lot harder." His 50th birthday. Richard was carrying energy gel packs, one of which burst, soaked through his pack and gear and left him with a blistered back.
Fortunately he stayed with a friend of a friend and was able to celebrate his birthday. "It could not have been better for me!"
Day Three - to Chemin de Crastes - 62,95km
By the time Richard reached his final destination for the day, at the foot of the Pyrenees, he had begun to suffer leg cramps. 
It was on this day that the uphill part of the challenge began in earnest. By the time he reached Barcelona, he would have an elevation of 6,250 metres under his belt - a higher climb than Kilimanjaro.
Day Four - to Berat - 65.01km
By the fourth of the 65km he covered that day, Richard was suffering 'horrendous' calf cramps. His spirits were given a much-needed boost that evening - and his body some much-needed calories - by a hearty meal at his bed and breakfast.
Day 5 - to Foix - 61.4km 
"The day was really tough on my muscles. My body didn't seem to want to do what it was told! I had thought of the idea of stopping for an extra day to recover."
Having given this serious consideration, Richard decided to press on.
Day 6 - to Aix en Themes - 49.95km
A change to his route saw Richard find himself in a road tunnel - from which police officers escorted him.
Richard spent the night at a place which had the atmosphere of an out-of-season ski venue.
Day 7 - to Alp - 53.3km
"The hotel was a massive disappointment. It just felt like it was shut, and that it was a massive inconvenience that I was there!" 
Richard's route that day saw him climb 1,200 metres - a greater climb than Snowdon.
Day 8 - to Ripoll in Catalonia - 49.32km
Another 1,200 metre climb, including sections so steep that he had to pull himself along with his hands.
He also began feeling pain in his left foot which would be diagnosed as a stress fracture, just ahead of the ankle, after he completed his run.
Day 9 - to Colluspina - 47.60km
"The hotel was amazing!"
Day 10 - to Barcelona - 60.01km
Richard was met by his wife, Miharu and daughter Sakura, who had celebrated her third birthday during his run. Miharu created a makeshift finishing line for him to cross.
 

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