Last week my father, Ron Ainsworth, died of motor neurone disease, as we have known he would from the time that he was first diagnosed, two years ago.
People will say that my dad lost his battle with MND, but in my mind, he didn’t. It killed him, sure enough. But he won.
For most of the course of his illness, MND did not prevent my father from enjoying his life to the full. Almost until the end, he still laughed and joked, still finished the Times crossword every day, still read eagerly and enjoyed the company of his friends and family. And though recently MND robbed him of his ability to walk, and then finally to talk, it never succeeded in taking away from him his courage, his dignity and his humour, which allowed him to support those around him even as they supported him.
I started running because of my father. Two years ago, shortly after he was diagnosed, I applied to run the London Marathon because I wanted to do something concrete in the battle against MND.
I wrote after that race how surprised I was to feel a clear, deep current of loss run through the marathon – how many people ran in honour of fallen fathers or sisters, friends or sons – and how so many runners’ pride in absent loved ones shone bright and strong. I suppose I now join that constituency of mourners, who run in honour of those they loved in life, and who they love still in remembrance.
I had always planned to run a second marathon, but when I took the decision, almost straight after I’d finished the first, it was more for my benefit than anyone else’s. Somewhat to my surprise, I found that I actively enjoyed running, and carried on running frequently in the weeks after the marathon. My decision to run – first in Brighton until it was derailed by injury, and now in Loch Ness – was driven as much by a desire to run faster and get fitter as it was by anything else.
That has changed, now. This marathon is to do with none of those things. It is in honour of Ron Ainsworth, my dad.
I now have a fundraising page set up. You can donate at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/DavidAinsworth2012