Dec 2018 - Kevin Webber (UK)
My name is Kevin Webber, I am just an ordinary guy, 53, married, 3kids and 2 cats.
I ran loads of half marathons in my 20s and a few marathons in my mid 40s, nothing to ever set the world on fire but I have always liked running as a means to clear my head and put the world straight using that empty space.
In November 2014, aged just 49, I sat in front of a doctor after a few months of tests following some late night toilet trips - to be told that I had incurable advanced prostate cancer and may only live two years.
To say that was a bit of a shock is an understatement; I spent much of the next two months whilst waiting for delaying treatment to start in tears thinking there was no point to anything anymore.
Then I had my epiphany, the morning after my first chemo session I decided to get my running shoes out and go for a shuffle. I only managed 3 slow miles, I felt awful but elated as despite cancer taking away most of my future it had not yet stopped me running (just about shuffling to be honest but I will take that!).
I carried on running through chemo and completed two marathons, on weeks 13 and 15 of the chemotherapy treatment. Next up was radiotherapy and that caused some unwanted collateral damage but I refused to stop running completing the Race to Stones shortly after that finished.
Since I ran my first half marathon in the mid 80s I had always wanted to run the MdS.
It was my wife Sarah who told me that I ought to enter as she knew how much it meant to me and we had both realised that when your life is probably short, running gave me a reason not to give up, to have an interest in nutrition, kit, exercise, training and races as they all could be considered short term goals. It’s only the long term ones that are probably impossible in my world.
So in 2016, despite various drugs failing on me, I managed to complete the MdS. At the same time I had started to use my situation to raise fund for Prostate Cancer UK as 1 in 8 men get prostate cancer and it is a much unfunded and unknown disease. I also began speaking at conferences, clubs, rotary, schools, golf clubs, etc. to raise awareness about the disease, as I realised my story was unusual because
I was running ultras with terminal cancer.
This combination encouraged me to enter more and more races. Whilst I know that sensible one should probably only race a multi day ultra once every 4-6 months I was trying to fit in as many as I could in the time I had.
Whilst I am not a wealthy man, I luckily insured myself against getting cancer so that the funds that this gave me have enabled me to enter lots of races with my wife’s blessing as I could not take anything from the charity to do something that I love.
I went on completing 3 MdS, and hopefully the fourth in 2019. I believe that I am the only person with T4 incurable cancer of any kind to have completed 3 of these.
I have been lucky that somehow, whilst still having cancer that has spread to other parts of my body, I am still able to get out there and run (shuffle), it is what I live for and that has made me look at other races that will both give me an experience that I never thought I would have in this life and give those who generously donate to Prostate Cancer UK through me a reason to keep donating as I take on more and more events.
In 2018, I completed the 6633 arctic ultra (120 miles), absolutely the toughest race ever, effectively solo, pulling a sledge in -35c is a real challenge. In hot race if you overheat you stop for a bit and eventually cool down. In the Arctic, if you overheat then you sweat and then you get frostbite or hypothermia, if you stop you cool down all right but then just get colder and cant warm up again.
This year I also did few other ultras, and then GlobalLimits Albania, followed by Cambodia. I chose Albania as it had to me an element of mystery and risk that
most of the other races don't have. I also love races with a field of around 30 runners as this gives a spirit of camaraderie among all the runners and not just those in your tent or who run the same kind of speed as you.
The Albania race was fantastically well organised and when I was given the opportunity to enter the GlobalLimits race in Cambodia, I jumped at the chance. That part of Asia is somewhere I have always wanted to go but my wife does not do hot and sticky, so thought it was never to be for me. However, now I have that opportunity and added the extension program as there is so much I want to experience.
Cambodia, like Albania is an underrated place, the people were so welcoming, the landscape so beautiful, and the beer so cheap! The course was amazing with overnights at incredible waterfalls and temples.
I know that ultras are tough races for everyone, it’s not just about once race day, its about your admin, food, kit, pacing yourself but it’s also about inclusion. I have never been quick but relatively speaking, is it harder to run an ultra in 4 hours at the front or be slow and takes 8 hours as that;s 4 hours more in the sun and 4 hours less time to recover? I think that’s what sets ultras and the people who run them apart. I have made so many friends running ultras, I can’t think of many at all from my road marathon days. I of course have another challenge,
my medication. I have drugs that I have to take an hour before eating so I get up an hour earlier than I would. I have others that have to be taken with food, after food, last thing, first thing etc. they lal have some kind of side effects and on a week race the drug bag is quite big and heavy at the start but to me that's just another part of the admin. I find now that 4 years of these drugs makes me run out of energy. In Albania, I was fine in the heat but really struggled up the long steep mountains. I had the same jebels on the MdS but like all physical abilities, its about knowing
yourself, knowing when to push and when to throttle back a bit. Then I think of others, I know of diabetics, celiacs and those with many physical disabilities who all manage to run ultras so what am I fussing about?
I can’t tell you how I have managed 4 years so far rather than 2, I don’t know if I have another 2 years, 1 year, 6 months or less as I am one bad blood test away from doom every month but whilst I get the ok, then I am not going to stop. My oncologist knows how important ultras are for me and I know will help me do as many as I can whilst I can.
2019 is a year I never thought would exist in my life so I am back to the 6633 Arctic ultra in March this time though not the 120 mile race but the 380 mile race, an absolute beast. I have no idea how far I will get but all I can do is train and then put my foot on the start line. I have a bunch of other races and treks lined up too, body
allowing, plus some charity marathon marches to raise some more awareness. You know, you can’t change yesterday, and tomorrow may never happen but what you do today is always to an extent within your control so I just do my best to live everyday as it comes.
If you would like to support my charitable aims please visit
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kevin-webber7 as with your help we can stop this disease ruining families in the future just like mine is being ruined now.
There is an expression that is a bit of a mantra to me in ultras,
better to start and not finish than never start at all. I hope you all never give up either?