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Jamie McDonald opens his heart

By The Citizen  |  Posted: March 17, 2014

Jamie McDonald

Comments (2)

Marathon man Jamie McDonald has spoken of the challenges of coming down after such an epic adventure.

Jamie stole the hearts of thousands of people when he raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for children's charities by running across Canada.

Gloucester heralded him with a homecoming celebration culminating in an event at Gloucester Cathedral.

But after such an extreme physical challenge Jamie has taken to social media to explain how the ensuing come-down has hit him.

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Here is Jamie's inspiring post on Facebook:

Post adventure blues. I didn't see that coming.

Having heard rumours about the come-down of an epic expedition, I never realised how dramatic it would be until finishing my run across Canada. In fact, I never really had time to come back down to earth from my cycling adventure, Bangkok to Gloucester, two years ago. The inevitability of reality had to happen, I just had no idea it would be with such a bump.

Whether it was pedalling my heart out, running my socks off, or grand scheming the next fundraising episode - I never stopped thinking about the goal ahead, better known as my dream. We all have a dream. Some might dream of a bigger house, a newer car - or the opportunity to live abroad, everybody’s dream is different and that’s what makes them dreams – they’re unique to each of us. I like to think about these dreams as being a big, satisfying cake at the end – something filling to reach towards. I think I speak for most of us when I say we are all chasing that cake - the cake that’s going to fulfil us and make our lives complete. Well, I completed my dream. I finished Canada 200 marathons later, raising over $250,000 for kids hospitals and inspired people along the way. Why is it, that literally days after my overwhelming homecoming at the Gloucester Cathedral, I felt nothing? Where was the cake that I’d been chasing for two years?

I finally have the answer: THE CAKE DOESN’T EXIST.

The three weeks after the completion of the run stand as the toughest experience I’ve been through in two years. I quickly realised that finishing my expedition and fitting back into society was my biggest challenge yet. I spent most of these days at home with my incredible parents, our lovely foster kids and close friends witnessing me in the pits of despair. Every time my Mum spoke to me, I'd respond 10 seconds later as if I wasn’t listening. It hurt me more because I couldn’t have one single happy chat with anyone I knew.

Life on the road was so simple. In Canada I wore one suit, I didn’t need to make a decision because every morning the choice was already made for me. Suddenly being back home and having a cupboard of ten sets of clothes, with all different colours, I couldn’t face it, I couldn’t choose. Trying to dress myself became nearly impossible, as ridiculous as this might sound.

Moving on to drinking coffee. Every coffee I drank in Canada had a purpose to help me strive forward, no matter how small, or how big. Each coffee gave me a burst, or warmed me. Now, back home, drinking coffee is pointless. Meaningless.

During these three weeks all I could think about was “how do I get myself out of this black hole?” As well as being in the darkness, I had this huge pressure to continue to inspire people – something I now realise I’ve placed on myself as much as I feel it from others. So I fought against the depression and went on a strong pursuit searching for the next mission. Maybe a book, maybe a documentary? However, I couldn’t. There wasn't an ounce of motivation in me. The days and weeks went by and it was impossible to focus. I was lost, and I knew it. Nothing made sense. I was empty. I woke up every morning feeling as if I’d achieved nothing.

Five weeks on now and after having incredibly understanding friends and family around me, it’s all starting to make sense. During the adventures, for 730 days, all day every day, I’ve been stuffing myself with juicy, vile, delicious, disgusting, sugar crashing, crumbs of cake along the way. Who cares about the taste of some of them, they were still filling me up. My heart and soul was being fulfilled.

During my blogs during the journey, I always loosely threw the saying around “it’s all about the journey”. However, I was naive, I didn’t mean it because I didn’t understand it. I had no idea that being in the journey, on the road, sleeping in ditches, being taken in by Canadians, eating tin fish, running in agony in the depths of winter – that was the fulfilment. The challenge in reaching the goal is the dream. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to work that out. I feel stupid for ever thinking there was one big cake at the end – I don’t think I’ll ever take one of those crumbs for granted again.

It’s time to start chasing another dream; this time to help children and people discover their dreams.

(Thanks to Mario Peters, a friend, who imparted a sprinkle of wisdom over a meaningful drink!)

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  • Peter_Parker  |  March 19 2014, 2:25PM

    Just go for a long walk. oh, no, hang on....

    |   -19
  • RWT1203  |  March 18 2014, 11:22AM

    Fantastic achievement Jamie but surely getting employment will now help you fill your days?