Thursday, 6 September 2012

11 hours of constant running

After a surprisingly good nights sleep in a village hall people started stirring at around 4.30a.m. ready for the start of day 2 of the Ring O' Fire. At 5a.m. one of the organisers came in blasting out "The Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash, a song that will for ever more bring back memories (good and bad) of this weekend.

I was positive but slightly nervous for what lay ahead, without a doubt it was going to be the toughest day of my life, 64miles running non stop. Similar to day 1 we had a short briefing and then we were off, everyone was a lot more conservative at the start with the daunting distance that lay ahead of us. A group of 3 shortly pulled away from the rest, myself, Stuart Mills (the winner of day 1) and another guy named Richard Webster. We ran together at a nice easy pace and the first hour or so went by without any problems. After crossing one of the numerous stiles on route I had a quick toilet stop, I then looked up to see Stuart being charged at by a cow! Luckily it turned away with only a few meters to spare, Stuart seemed unconcerned (nutter!!) but from this point on I gave all cows as much room as possible. Another hour went by and I started to "zone out" a bit, I was leading the group of three and after running up quite a long hill I turned to talk to Richard only to find him a few hundred meters behind, so it was down to two. Not wanting to get lost like day 1 I stuck with Stuart for a good while, the going was tough, deep mud, slippery seaweed made us both fall over a few times. I started to get the feeling Stuart was not comfortable running with me as he kept letting me get 50m ahead, I'm not sure if it was a tactic on his part so that I would get lost, but if it was it certainly worked, as on three or four occasions I would have a lead of maybe one minute or two, take a wrong turn and see Stuart overtake me on the correct path! Time for some map reading I thought!

Fuelling up at a checkpoint on day 2
So for the rest of the day I would run with a map in my hand and this made a big difference as no more wrong turns! Nearing the marathon distance I was feeling pretty good so I just continued running at a comfortable pace pulling further ahead of Stuart. At the third checkpoint of the day I had my dad and Shavaun waiting for me which was great as a friendly face always lifts the spirits, I filled up on some fluids and carried on running, at this point we sort of ran back on ourselves and across a field I could see Stuart and he must have been at least ten minutes behind, this was very surprising but a big boost. Having checked out the map the night before I knew the next section of running until the halfway mark was flat so I upped the pace slightly, this was short lived as the coastal path went onto a very rocky beach, rocks that I had to climb over in places! Also the tide was at it's high point and on a few occasions I had to wade through the sea up to my waist, just another challenge I thought!! I was soon back on smoother ground with only a short distance to cover until the halfway checkpoint. Again my dad and Shavaun were waiting for me and the plan was to have a 5 or 10minute stop to get a lot of calories and fluid back into my system. I really didn't want to stop but was persuaded to put on a clean pair of socks, have a banana and a good drink. It was a nice thought knowing I was halfway around the island, I always try to look at the positives, rather than thinking I still had half the island to run!!

Run-Fast Kiprop!!
The second half started up a long steep climb, I actually missed a turning here but wasn't too concerned as had been warned about a bull in a field so a short extra distance seemed like a small price to pay!

The miles were ticking by quite nicely, 40 miles, 45 miles, then my Garmin watch ran out of battery, maybe not a bad thing. I was well into my 7th hour of running and feeling pretty good, the next checkpoint was unmanned and at a lighthouse at the end of an out and back point. To make sure you didn't cut out this section the organisers had put some disposable cameras and a book where you had to rip out a page and take it to the next checkpoint. The book was "Fifty Shades of Grey". The next section was a very, very long section of beech and I started to really struggle, my knee became very painful, I had to climb through a section of scrub land where I kept falling over, it was not fun. I knew this would happen sooner or later so just had to will myself into keep running with the final days checkpoint getting ever closer. I got myself through this bad patch with sheer will and determination and arrived at the checkpoint to once again have my spirits lifted by my dad and Shavaun. Shavaun was off on holiday the day after so she had to shoot off at this point to get her train back to London, her help and friendship was invaluable to me in this race and I owe her a big thank you for getting me into it in the first place and for supporting me through the first two days.

With Shavaun after 60miles of running!!
With only 8miles of running left I knew I was going to make it!! It was still tough and a few more fields of scary cows was somewhat annoying but before I knew it 11hours after I first started running the finish line was in sight.......

And relax....... what a day........

It turned out Stuart Mills had stomach problems and dropped out at halfway, so the second place finisher on day two was Richard Webster finishing in 13 hours, a full 2 hours behind me!!

A crazy, emotional, extraordinary day...... but still one more to do :-(

I will try and get day 3 up tomorrow.

Running Machine...

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