Beyond Fortitude …………..
As human beings we are capable of things that separate us from every other species that inhabits our planet. Our ability to perform great acts of love , selflessness , courage , and strength of character are but a few of these. Beyond this there are things that come from so deep within that they are unexplainable , things that require an extreme catalyst or huge mental strength to bring them to the fore… I witnessed one of these in the most fantastic of ways on Friday night … At Thinkfitness Gym in Hawick , James “Sel” Messer stood on a stepper machine at 1pm Friday afternoon and began stepping , this is no ordinary stepper either , it’s a chain driven balance stepper , one of the hardest machines to use in any gym , his Goal to step to the top of Everest and back down again in 24 hours , 57,400 feet in total. His family and friends were there to cheer him on and he started his epic challenge full of positivity and with fresh legs , when I returned to the gym at 12.30 am Saturday morning it was different , his face told me the story as soon as I walked in , he was racked with pain , 11 hours in and it was hurting bad , he was forcing every step and he was barely half way , he has never let his disabilities hold him back from anything but without doubt now they were part of his picture of pain. Yet he smiled and said thanks to me for coming … I took over support from the previous crew , checked the timers and the log book , it would be my job now to time his work load , record his height and make sure he ate and drank the right amounts.
He was now into a very difficult period , not only because of the amount of work he had done up to this point but because he was now in the twilight hours where your body naturally starts to sleep , I encouraged him as best I could and insisted he now started to take in more sugar to keep his blood sugar levels high as he worked on through the night … I could see he was struggling , I could hear it in his voice , he had nerve pain in his arm , a sore back and I could tell his lungs were labouring but every time he was forced to stop he paused , got himself together and stepped back on , every time more painful than the last .. after an hour it was time for me to signal his rest , I prepared his bottles and sat him down , recorded his the height climbed , then sorted his food and made sure he ate it .. I rubbed his legs , they felt tight. After his 7 mins rest it was time to jump back on , he was fighting just to get up but he did , he stood back on and very slowly started cranking again ..
About now the local nightclubs were emptying into the street and we were treated to a few of our drunk friends popping up the fire escape to entertain us .. I was running a marathon on the treadmill , James climbing to the top of Everest on the Stepper and these nutters falling around about us , it was hilarious and definitely lifted the mood for a while , eventually the gym cleared and Davie Chapman from Scocha stayed on with us most of the night , this was great because he is hilarious , especially when drunk !! despite this James was still toiling and I was desperate for the sun to come up and give him the boost he needed but in October it wasn’t going to happen quickly … at 4:30 am Gav Kellett from the local mountain Rescue arrived , we both witnessed James deteriorate quickly at this point and insisted he take a proper rest , even some sleep if need be , he sat for around 30 minutes only but insisted on getting back on because he was falling behind on his target .. there are times when a mans mood can be so dark that no amount of another mans enthusiasms and support can lift it , this is a place that only you , yourself can get out of , James was deep in there !! all we could do was be there if he needed us … His wife and son arrived around 6am , It was time for me to head home as I had to sleep if I was to run Kielder Marathon in 24hours time , hard enough running a treadmill marathon through the night but to attempt a second one a day later with minimal sleep necessitated I at least try , I left him in their capable hands, safe in the knowledge that Gav would handle anything that could go wrong . I had a terrible job of getting to sleep , I lay in my bed until sun up with eyes wide open but eventually fell asleep for a few hours and got out of bed to go back to the gym to witness James complete his epic … Knowing James for as long as I have I knew he would still be on that machine , despite everything he would not give up , but I was nervous as I approached the gym , he had looked so bad and was labouring so hard when I left that anything was possible , I crossed my fingers as I parked the car … I needn’t have worried though , he was still there , surrounded by about 30 of his friends and family , the kids were all lined up walking on the treadmills singing , his wife there looking worriedly on and his closest friends all there to support him , it’s a testament to his character that he had all this support !! I found out that earlier however he had been through some serious problems with both his back and legs , a local physiotherapist had been called in to help him continue , I watched him , still suffering like he had been 8 hours earlier , repeatedly he had went back on that machine despite looking like he couldn’t go on another minute , he had forced himself back on time and time again , fought his way through massive pain and dark depression , I welled up with tears as I felt my pride and admiration grow inside , I am welled up now writing this post .. he and I have deep history , something happened to us once that was life changing , if I didn’t see him for 10 years I know I would walk in to the room and feel the same , its that kind of respect I have for him ….
Eventually the clock approached 1pm Saturday afternoon and the countdown started … 10, 9 , 8 , 7 , 6 , 5 , 4 , 3 , 2 ,1 !!!! the cheer went up and my friends agony was over !! he had battled right to the end despite knowing he had fallen short by 3,000 feet but who cares !!! what he had done was incomprehensible to most people , every expedition or race that I have done in my life has never came close to the grit and determination this guy applied to a stepping machine !! absolute respect for his ability to push to his limits , he went to the red-line and beyond , this guy showed us all what being tough is all about !!
James’ charity page is right here : http://www.justgiving.com/everestandk2stepchallenge
Ill blog the Salomon Kielder marathon in a few days but Id like to respect this guys achievement first ….. respect to you James , next time I dig deep you will be right there in my mind !!!
Id like to thank the Teviotdale Leisure Centre for its continued Support