One of the lasting memories of my teen years was running around the dark, cold wet streets of Manchester, for no reason other than my dream — that one day I would run a marathon.

For a sports fanatic, it’s one of the ultimate dreams. More than 42 kilometres of nothing but you and your mind. It’s not about your physical fitness as much as your mental toughness.

In 1999 my housemates finally persuaded me to apply to the London Marathon organisers. They said they had heard enough of me talking about it, and it was time I finally did it.

It was estimated around 1 million people applied for the Y2K race, although only 30,000 or so would be lucky enough to take part. Couple this with an article I read, that you never get accepted into London on your first attempt — in fact, the average was around 10 years of applying.

So more in hope than anything else, I submitted my application. Imagine my excitement when I received a letter informing me I was accepted (all those half-marathons on my application had helped, I’m sure).

And so began six long months of training, pounding the streets of London through the winters that I had become used to in Manchester. My four-hour goal was set, and my training was going great.

Then came the frozen pitches of the winter London soccer season. Being a sports fanatic, I cannot just play one sport, and was already deep into the soccer season. I was a not-too-shabby goalkeeper.

Then the unthinkable happened. One frozen pitch too many saw me in an ambulance to A&E to have my knee realigned and strapped. My marathon ambitions for that year were over, or so I was told.

They call it a dream for a reason. It’s something we aspire to, and something we rarely think we can achieve. So on the morning of the race, I awoke with this playing on my mind. My knee had recovered, however I had not been able to train for three months.

After an hour of replaying memories and dreams of this day, I hopped on a train with my runners and bib in tow, and made my way to the start line. Some four hours and 45 minutes after the gun, I came through the finish line with a lifetime of memories, and one dream fulfilled.

If you have a dream, make it a reality.

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