The Medal

“For some, the award of a Spartan Race Trifecta Medal is quite something, for me it’s bittersweet. Although it represented a reward for 12 months of intense training and endurance, it came at a time when my ego ruled and as I raced, my wife and I drifted apart, all my own doing. I will always keep this medal as a reminder of the man I never want to be. Right now, I am not that man and we are strong”…

For the unaware, the Spartan Race is one world’s most premier obstacle races. Over varying distances, one has to crawl though pits of ice, leap over fire and shimmy through electrified barb wire fences, before pushing their way through gladiators protecting the finishing line.

In 2012, I took it upon myself to compete in every race in the UK, six in total from Edinburgh to South London and many places in between. By the end of it and over 2000 miles extra on the mile-o-meter, I was awarded the Trifecta Medal and with it, entrance into an elite class of runners, finishing an impressive top 500 from an overall field of 130,000 Spartans world-wide.

As all of this was taking place, my wife was plotting to leave me…

Around five years ago, we returned from living in Malaysia and I had the task of finding a subsequent posting in the UK, and sadly the only ones available at the time were based in London. I had little option but to take one of the first things that became available, and took it upon myself to live a split-life, at that time not through choice.

The first year was very hard, settling into a mature team of very talented individuals (both work and triathletes), and for a person like me it was always going to be a challenge in itself, but manage it I did. The first year I worked 5 days a week in London and was home for weekends, and by the end of second year I managed to negotiate down to three days per week.

During those two years and unbeknownst to all of us, my wife had contracted skin cancer beneath her hairline which went incorrectly diagnosed resulting in a deep rooted spread. Once it was diagnosed in early 2012, we took the hit on going private due to a further six month wait due to strains on the NHS and she had it removed, leaving a huge graft in place, taken from her neck.

She has always been proud to be strong on the outside and very quickly (so I thought) normal service was resumed and thus I carried on with my split life in the capital.

Soon after normal service was resumed, the Spartan Race series started, and part of the justification for me doing it was to raise money for Cancer Research as well as rekindle the bond with my children, both my boys being active participants in the Spartan Race series too.

We travelled the length and breadth of the country during weekends, leaving my wife and daughter yet again. We would come back battered and bruised with another trinket around our necks, but there was no congratulations when we returned.

Then it came two weeks before the final race. I picked up the wife who was in the rain walking the dog on her own and she told me. It was over, no longer could she put up with living separate lives. She worked weekends by then and with me returning late Thursday nights, we never saw each other. That night we cleared our closets of all manner of things, some things incredibly hard to bear and incredibly impossible to share.

Only then it hit me. Previously she had mentioned that she was not happy and previously I may have changed for a week or two before reverting to type. My life’s priority list was all wrong and during the following week of separation, I searched deep within myself for answers, and thankfully I found them all and found them really quickly.

It was clear that my situation in work was untenable, and that was the root cause of both my situation and my bloated ego. I was a weekday socialite in the city. I was competing against others for higher bonuses and higher points on the Iron Man scale. I had taken over from my old boss and had an ideal opportunity to change my work-life balance for the greater good but chose not to, to accustomed to my own ways of working, my own wants and needs.

It was clear I had strength but it was in the wrong places. I realised my strength would be now required to tackle “The Corporation” head on and suffer any career or financial penalties as a result. As it turned out, they were very supportive and we came up with a compromise which was mutually beneficial to both parties.

I relayed all of this to my wife, and fully understood that I had given her so many empty promises before, and that only time and commitment would heal the broken bond between us.

And it did, through hard work and keeping to my promises to both her and the children, I drew myself back from the void and back into the arms of my wife and lover, and into the hugs and parents evenings of my children.

I also took the opportunity to cease all ego-based activities and instead focus in on who I actually was and what I actually stood for, and following on took up yoga, meditation and reiki, which has brought around a complete shift of consciousness. No longer am I driven by socialising, alcohol or bragging rights, now my focus is on the health, well-being and support of my wife, children and friends which brings with it such inner peace.

The Spartan Race Trifecta Medal will stay with me forever, a constant and consistent reminder of the person who I never want to be. It is also a symbol to my children of what can be achieved through hard work, but with it there is a very clear message about never forgetting your priorities in life and the potential dire consequences of doing so.

I am once again a real husband, a real father and a real friend. I am me…

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