I know this is a little retrospective, but I’m not going to miss out on getting the great stories down from Paris, Boston, New York and London. So you’ll have to bear with me…
After the run in Paris, I was tired… I’d had a great day, having not really anticipated how much I’d enjoy being in that wonderful city.
On the Sunday evening, we headed to a bar in the city. Aussie Jay from New York said he was meeting some mates there. I figured that Narelle, Judy and I should crash the party. We did and I was lucky enough to meet more of Jason’s mates.
He was over with his girlfriend Camilla and mates Donny and Dingo Davies. Billy lived in Paris and even Jason’s folks were over for a visit too. They were all SUPER nice people and we switched into the whole Aussie piss-take joke routine. A lot of people around the world don’t really understand Aussie humour. The Kiwi’s get it of course. And the English and Irish basically follow. But, for the most part, French and Americans and many other internationals don’t really dig it. Mostly they’re horrified that we’d speak to each other that way! Haha. It’s hugely sarcastic, belittling, dry and most of the sentences are punctuated with swear words. Ok, that’s probably a bit extreme, but I’m just trying to convey that it’s a little different. Oh…. and it’s funny as f*$k! Ha!
I loved catching up with these guys, because they were easy with there wit, fun with their jibes and encouraging of my efforts. They were all there supporting their mates and taking on another challenge. I loved that this was why they were in Paris – a casual weekend away from New York to smash a marathon and have fun!
Anyways, Judy made it there after a while too and we all hung out and chatted about the race. It was great to be able to recap with people who were there too. The crew had done some big races and Jason was telling me all about the New York marathon. I was due to head to Boston from Paris, so was tempted to pop down and visit that insane city, having never been..
The New York crew slowly filtered away. They were mostly getting flights that evening, to head home. I’d sent another mate an email the night before, just to see if he was in town. Tim Gruzca was a guy I was good mates with at school. I was one of those guys at high school who was just kinda friends with everyone. I’ve never been too good at just hanging with one group all the time. Something in me always wants to meet new people and have fresh conversation. I find it invigorating. To this end, I lost touch with Tim after high school.
Seeing Tim was a really special moment. He had changed as a person, but still held all the qualities that were moulding him so well as a teenager. He was 15 years older now and has seen some of the most intense things that the world could possibly throw at you. Strangely, he didn’t get into to too much detail of any of it. I asked questions and he gracefully sidestepped and kept asking about my trip. After a while I didn’t probe any more, but then a week or so later, the Sultan of Dubai, Adam Peake, sent me a news piece that appeared in an Australian paper that week. Here it is.
Tim had left Australia to be a video journalist and documentary maker many years ago. He was now married to a French girl and they’d just had a beautiful new baby, Mia. He’s been in most major military conflicts since Sarajevo in the 90s. He was in Haiti (which he didn’t even say anything to me about) in the aftermath of the quake. Wow… Death and destruction of that magnitude would surely mess with a guy, but Tim is as comfortable and friendly as he ever was. You know when you meet some people and they have this air about them, that they are just good human beings? Tim’s one of those guys. He was a great man when he was still a teenager, now he’s just fulfilling the prophecy… colouring in the picture, so to speak.
Tim took Narelle, Judy and I to a great tapas bar. We ate and chatted and went off to another bar just near where he lived, where I met another blast from the past – Hanna! I hadn’t seen Hanna since school either. She was living in Paris, working in Theatre. It was fun to chat with her and Tim’s other mates. They were all funny people, expats from one place or another. Tim and Hanna made fun of each other like siblings. It was amusing to see them at it, filling that gap that exists when you’re so far from home.
Had a blast Tim, it was really awesome to see you mate.
Next day I trundled around to do a little site-seeing with Narelle. I also went to an appointment set up by Clément. It was to see a therapist, kind of a cross between a osteopath and a chiropractor…. I can’t remember what his title was. He was a stocky, strong dude and I literally thought he was going to snap me in two… I’ve never really had the joint/back cracking stuff done and I can’t tell you how nervous I got when he twisted me up like a pretzel and got ready to squeeze.. “Do you trust me?”, he asked. I hesitated, clearly looking a little panicky. He rephrased the question. “Do you trust Clément?”
“Yes… I do trust Clément..”, I said, relaxing and resigning myself to what was coming. He grinned, squeeeeeeeeeezed, then with a quick heave a few parts of my neck and back seemed to pop… I left feeling a little dizzy, but definitely feeling looser than when I’d arrived. Random… Clément had even paid for the session. The guy is ridiculously generous.
I caught up with Narelle and Judy again later, then went home to see Daz. It was late, nearly 10pm. Clément was due back from Morocco at about 10:30. Daz didn’t look so good.
People often asked me why Daz was there. What was his role, etc. Well, it’s hard to explain, but I needed someone to accompany me for a while, especially while I was starting out. I really need someone else to think sometimes when I’m completely burned out. Just work out the accommodation and stuff. And someone to share the experiences with. Daz had little holding him to Australia when I asked him, but it still took some convincing. He’d been travelling for nearly 5 years, leading up to the end of 2008, so pitching my idea 6 months after his return wasn’t perfect timing for him. But he came. One of the great qualities that Daz has, is that he’ll talk to pretty much anyone. Sometimes when I’m tired, I find it hard to do that. So if Daz did it, then we’d still meet people and have adventures. Sounded like a good plan to me and it was pretty effective for a few months there.
Unfortunately this quality has its drawbacks. Sometimes the people Daz befriends don’t have is best interests at heart. In Paris, Daz had apparently met one of these unhappy sorts. He’d gone out drinking with his mates in Paris and had ended up in a bar by himself in the wee hours. Next thing he knows, he’s in the accidents and emergencies section of a hospital near Clément’s apartment. The hospital staff told him that he’d been brought in by an ambulance, heavily intoxicated and perhaps even drugged. Daz felt unusually sick and looked pretty pale, saying that everything was fine, then all of a sudden not. He must have had something slipped into his drink by the people he was talking to. Pretty scary, but as Clément said to me later, “Paris is a big city…bad stuff happens.”
Clément came home soon after. He was like a returning hero! He’d been through some of the most dangerous terrain in the world and had some hairy stories. There was one point where he thought he’d just passed through a checkpoint and stopped for a minute, but later found out that he’d blacked out for an hour and a half. He also had pictures of being so burned out that he was bleeding from his nose. Running through the desert covered in sand and bleeding from your nose is pretty scary stuff, I reckon. I had so many questions for him, because I’m having a crack at this race with a few mates from Australia next year. His tales were awesome. I’ll tell you right now… GRRRRRIPPING STUFF!! The man’s a certified hero. He even cranked up his pace on the last day to overtake some of the other less mentally tough competitors and claim 97th position of around 1000 entrants! He also wore the RunLikeCrazy t-shirt to the race and has a bunch of pictures wearing it there. So cool. What a champ!
We caught up with his good friend Michael and got home at 3am and were up and moving at 6am to get on a plane to London, to transfer to Boston. Clément was heading to Luxembourg to go to work…. yes, that’s right, only 7 hours after arriving back from a death defying running adventure…. Yes.. Crazier than me.
Thanks for everything Clément. I’ll never be able to repay your constant generosity.
Daz was quiet all the way to London. I was tired and short tempered, having lost yet another jacket on the subway in Paris. Idiot. When we got to my sister Alexis’ business, The Happiness Centre, we only had half an hour to get our gear together before heading to Boston.
Daz informed me that he wasn’t coming with me. Bombshell! The incident in Paris had scared him and he wanted to go to a hospital in London to get checked out properly. He was stressed and tired and wanted to make sure he was ok. He was at his finish point for the journey anyway, as following Boston, he’d be staying in London.
Ok… I had to go.. no time to think about this. Alright, well I hope it all works out man… ok.. Gotta go.
It was a weird way to end the partnership. I knew it was coming and Daz had done his best to support me throughout what was essentially MY big adventure. He’d had some cool adventures of his own, but had also copped a fair bit of stress from me while I tried to do too much. I’m a pretty hard task master sometimes and when you’re not trained for the job, then it makes it tough to take it all in. The last thing I wanted was for him to feel my stress, but when you live in each other’s pockets, it’s nearly impossible to avoid.
I got on the plane to Boston. I sat there by myself thinking, “Damn… how’s this gonna turn out?” I knew I was going to see a lot of people along the way, but I also felt an incredible loss. Like I wasn’t going to be able to share it anymore. You know, your travels are more than all the big adventures. It’s all the stupid things that happen along the way, like getting a street sign wrong, or eating a strange chocolate from a vending machine. It’s the dumb stuff that make’s travelling awesome when you can point and laugh and the dude next to you laughs too. No need for words, just a signal with your eyes at a beautiful girl will bring a raised eyebrow. A nod of the head at some local with a crazy haircut will force a chuckle.
I miss you Daz. I know you’re settled again, but I want you to know, I couldn’t have made it so far without you. And I had a blast!
I got off the plane, wandered through customs by myself for the first time and finally rolled through the doors to the USA. And there was Troy with a big RunLikeCrazy banner.
I felt better already..
More to come.. Just trying to get some of these stories up retrospectively. I HAVE to tell you about Boston, New York and London!
Once again, if you love the story, then please donate $10 to UNICEF via my Everyday Hero page! Donations have really stalled and I want to know that I’m doing this for the right reasons. Please get on board!
You’re all bloody HEROES!