Being as it was Fathers’ Day on Sunday we wanted to take the opportunity to pay homage to our Dads this week, in much the same way as we did for our Mums on Mothers’ Day – we’re both very lucky to be close to the men in our lives, they are a continuous source of support, inspiration and encouragement, and they are undoubtedly also the reason the pair of us are so bloody headstrong and competitive…
Kate: My Dad has always been a keen sports man, when he was younger he played soccer, rugby and gaelic football for school and university teams as well as being a keen runner and squash player. Nowadays, along with my mum, he cycles, rows, kayaks and hikes like a mad person!
There was a bit of a blip (massive understatement) when my Dad suffered a significant heart-related health scare in his late forties. His consultant told him afterwards that if he hadn’t been doing as much exercise as he was and lost the weight that he had before the incident (he had recently made a big effort to regulate his weight after it had crept up over the years), he would almost certainly no longer be with us. In essence, my dad’s love of sport and exercise saved his life and he has been great at extolling the virtues to his family and friends ever since!
My Dad is hugely supportive of me in all things but when it comes to sport and exercise there are two particular instances that stand out in my mind. Firstly, when I was 15 I had the opportunity to go on the school trip of a lifetime – a month’s trekking through the jungles on Malaysian Borneo. I, being young and naive, was pretty blasé about the whole thing, but Dad knew that if I wasn’t fit enough to do the trekking, I really wasn’t going to make the most of this trip and I certainly wasn’t going to enjoy it. So, with that in mind, we spent an entire summer executing a fitness plan that Dad devised for us, which involved hiking the few miles down the coastal path from our house to the sea, swimming a couple of miles in open water surrounded by seals and dolphins (and often jellyfish…) then running a mile along the beach before hiking back up to the house. It was tough going but within a couple of weeks, with Dads unrelenting enthusiasm a continuous presence, I was sure I was ready to take on the challenge of hiking through the Maliau Basin and climbing Mount Kinabalu. I’m still grateful to this day that he helped me prepare, because there was a couple of very moany people who had not… heaven forbid I am ever “that guy”.
The second is the rugby. Both my parents are huge rugby fans, and this has very much rubbed off on their children (which, given they are both Irish people who brought their kids up in prime Welsh Rugby country, posed us with something of an identity crisis… YOU’LL NEEEEVER BEAT THE IRISH!). At University I decided that the best way to properly learn the rules was to actually play, so I did just that. I think most fathers would balk at the idea of their precious little girl plowing her shoulder into the wobbly bits of another women with a good bit of aggression, but my Dad, with the exception of asking that I didn’t play in the front row of the scrum (fair enough!), was fully supportive – same as he is for my sister and my brother alike! He’s been to games and shouted from the sidelines just the same as he does for my bro, with no question that it’s any different for him than it is for me.
Having a Dad who is an advocate of women’s sport and equal opportunities means I’ve never been scared to push myself and take on big, big challenges, and he has inspired me to take risks and dream big – I mean the guy completed the Celtic Challenge last year (the worlds longest true rowing race, across the Irish sea!) in his mid-50s! If he’s not an utter hero, I don’t know who is!
Ah, a shout out to my father. I mean, my mother is fabulous, but he is also fabulous. Everyone thinks we are a cray cray family (we are) and he isn’t really helping the image….however I wouldn’t have it any other way. We clash a fair amount (much less than we used to) but I have a feeling that is something to do with being very, very similar. Neither of us will let the other person have the last word, we always think we are right (well, we are) and both have that tendency to do a “don’t shout at me” “ I’M NOT SHOUTING AT YOU” type thing. Which my mother abhors. But it’s where I get my competitive streak from. My determination, a desire to push myself and just keep going. Especially if he is telling me to…
My dad is a Scotsman and fiercely proud of it. Hence the reason why you’ll never find me cheering for England. Always, always the opposition. (I’ve had that drummed into me from a young age!) This is something you will quickly learn if you spend any length of time with me. Being a Scotland fan is undoubtedly tough…We spend a lot of time watching rugby matches and shouting a lot at the opposition, referees, our own players….and he’s always the first one I text with any sports gossip. As with Mama Ferg, Father Ferg has played a big part in me being active – we can just about run together now in a non-competitive manner (“stop speeding up” “I’m speeding up because you are speeding up” “I’M NOT” “STOP SHOUTING AT ME”) and I now hold all the family PBs after my parkrun 21.30 a few weeks ago 😉
Here are some things that he does:
- Still plays rugby at the ripe old age of a decade that begins with a 5…and not even for a vets team. I crack this fact out on a REGULAR basis to depress my friends who tell me that they have had to ‘retire’ from contact in their late twenties because it’s too tough as they get older. I think they are being super wimpy.
- Demonstrates advanced burpee variations in my bedroom at about 11pm when I am trying to go to sleep
- Skis anything you tell him to…for example, the below
- Sees his PT once a week for fun activities like upside down inverted rows on the rings and doing squats with his PT across his shoulders (like I said, cray cray) My mum DREADS him coming home as she doesn’t like being subjected to a move-by-move recap. I however enjoy this and proceed to tell him about my tyre flipping activities, we complain about tired legs and my mother says she is fed up
- Catches loose horses when I fall off. By cycling next to them saying ‘woaaah’ and hoping it will work
- Mountain bikes like a LITERAL CRAZY person. Down steps. Off rocks. Similar attitude to skiing. Mental
- Videos 7 games of rugby to then watch them all on a Sunday and fall asleep after about 1.5 matches
- Basically agrees to do whatever stupid idea I have – for example, the Chiltern 100 when he didn’t own a road bike until 2 weeks before, running 650m up the Madeloc on what can only be described as a mountain goat track, skiing the Swiss Wall twice in a row, “black bagging” in Avoriaz…
- Watches me play netball despite knowing approximately 1% of the rules
- Gives me his BTSport login details so I can stream rugby matches on my iPad
- For having points jersey races mid-bike ride with me and my sister
I am currently playing the role of the son he never had by playing in his touch team and my one, genuine fear currently is that I let him down. For some reason, I don’t mind letting down my team on a Wednesday (sorry Kate, I do mind, but not as much), but for my dad to be disappointed in me….well. No words. He will agree with the fact that I have to check after every.single.game that I played OK. Dad praise is the best kind of praise. Although I still struggle with working out whether he is actually on the pitch or still on the sidelines when he is shouting at me! But apparently he is just trying to help. Most people bring their sons to play but we are bucking the trend.
So, to my father, the person who I will always be able to rely on for drunk-watching Question of Sport, Monty Python jokes, Jens Voigt impressions and lifts to triathlons at 5am. Oh and a kick up the backside when I’m being over-dramatic at mile 12 of a half marathon. YOU ARE THE BEST. And I’m still really sorry for overtaking you in the Pednor 5 in 2014 with 20m to go (honest)