By Steve Diederich
“We only have one life and when it’s gone, it’s gone. You will never get the chance to do the things you talked about doing and that is why I grab every opportunity that comes my way”
There it is – Boom ! ….. right between the eyes, those words have landed on their intended target and have me mentally reaching for my diary, thinking of all the things I need to do and feeling panicked that there just isn’t enough time. This is of course the point of this book, Kevin Webber goes under the banner of just an ordinary bloke going about his ordinary life when he gets delivered some extraordinary news “You have between three to four years to live” and with those 9 words, Kev’s life was to be defined by Before and After prostate cancer diagnosis.
What turns Kevin’s epithet of being an ordinary guy on its head is how Kevin reacts to this news. In England alone one man dies every hour from prostate cancer and Kevin has made it his mission to get the message of early diagnosis and treatment to every man.
Whilst Kevin is evangelical about the importance of this message, nearly seven years post-diagnosis the significance of this message is still at the front of pretty much every day planned – the narrative that accompanies the crusade is the extraordinary achievements that he has undertaken. There are only a few in a lifetime of running who have racked up the miles, the days, the weeks, the years of back-to-back running from races from the Equator to the Arctic and in “Dead Man Running” Kev narrates in an easy style the many highlights and the challenges that these years have brought.
Kev regales readers with great anecdotes of what it feels like to succeed and achieve lifetime ambitions, at the same time tempering euphoria with the reality of knowing that his cancer diagnosis will leave his wife without their planned future hopes and dreams and his children without a Dad. He brilliantly describes the growing group of friends and supporters who provide a network that keep re-appearing at different times throughout the chapters and in far-off places. Kev gives us “warts and all” stories of being in the chemo-suite during regular trips to the hospital and then talks of a deadly black cobra dropping from a tree onto the path right in front of him in Sao-Tome. He talks of the death of his father and of fear of being arrested for “pooing” in Alaska.
It is this contrasting of the profound, the ridiculous, the tragic and the joyous that makes this book a great read.
If you are an ultrarunner you will easily relate to the consistent themes of the challenges that play out in your head and in the field. Or, if you are facing or have faced a life-changing event of such enormity that every part of you is challenged beyond what you could previously have dreamt of. Or, if you are walking down a path of mediocrity wondering “Is this as good as it gets?”, then this book will show you how an “ordinary guy” in the face of extraordinary circumstances can turn extract joy and fulfilment from every day and use the brutality of his prognosis to save the lives of others.
Kevin Webber will be signing copies of his book on the RunUltra stand (J12) at The National Running Show.
Dead Man Running is available from 6th September. Pre-orders and orders are available from Pitch Publishing and other booksellers. Priced £19.99