I awoke on Sunday with still functional limbs so I guessed it was time to get the final run done and dusted. I seemed to be famished as I'd not really eaten enough the previous day. So I had plenty of porridge, bread + jam and then a banana not long brefore the race. This just succeeded in giving me an upset stomach by race time. Camp was quiet immeadiately before the briefing as many runners had started with the walkers, fearing the worst in the last days offering or needing to make a train/plane back to the real world? There was a bit of gallows humour on the minibus which lifted the mood slightly from the standard aura of the tired, nervous, and, following the brieifing, probably fearful passengers.
The slightly reduced runners gathered on masse on a village green near a church, some like myself watered the flowers. No complaints from the congregation who hopefully prayed for our mortal souls. We were soon off and it was quite a sedate start. Paths, alleys and quiet streets winding towards Carbis bay and then St Ives. I recall thinking that St Ives is somewhere I'd like to spend more time. Pleasent looking pubs, cafs and little shops. I must be getting old as I would have probably thought that of Newquay at one time.
Of the RW forum members I'd shared prep for this event with; Stuart was off up ahead on the way to a superb performance, Tommy I had just met and ran the first few miles with and then we met up with Gareth almost by accident. Nice to put faces to names and hear a bit about how this was going for them. Lots of solid surface and reasonably flat streets meant for a faster start than day 2. On the other hand it wasn't like day 1 where I purposefully had my foot on the brakes for 13miles. A small group of runners had bunched around me and kept me in line when I tried to go the wrong way after climbing the headland beyond the harbour - it was a short cut.. honest ;¬)
After another climb out of St Ives things soon got rough. My early confidence and pace would soon be knocked for six, but for now I was ascending and descending ok and managing to skip over the stones, boulders, twigs of heather and keep in line on the twisty and undulating paths. The trails here were a sign of things to come, fun at first, concentrating on keeping balance and rythm when there were a hundred-and-one obstacles in every one hundred strides. Gone were the straight, flat, and good surfaced paths that made up much of the previous days. This was more like crossing rough moorland somewhere like Calderdale or the western Yorkshire Dales.
By the time the path diverted inland to Zennor - following the return of a section of path near Zennor head to the sea - the cracks were forming in my will and endurance. Running the road into the town I seemed to be in slow motion almost like being towed by the guy in front. I felt like I had at 22 on day 1 or twenty on day 2, no longer confidently catching those in front, now just a passenger on an unpredictable ride. The sun was also out and I was sweating buckets as I often seem to do in the least hint of warm weather. The stomach was neither here northere at CP1 so I guzzled coke and water and ate some chocolate which seemed to agree. Then it was off again in slow motion, slightly bouyed by the very late arrival of CP1, probably more like 10m than 10k'ish, which is a good incentive that I'm near halfway.
A few runners passed me on the way back to the coast and the roughest section of terrain of the whole 3 days. Picking up where we had left off before Zennor it was wild, rocky, moorland, zig-zagging up and down the coast as it sloped towards the jagged cliffs. I was keeping up with those in front - who I was sure were ahead of me the previous day - until I hit the rounding of Porthmeor Cove. Then I just had to walk a bit as the path zigged up hill through more rock-strewn foliage. I let a few runners passed and decided to walk to the next flat bit. As I topped out I passed a girl I had the few previous days, also struggling, who on both occasions previously had then undertook me as I faded. As I approached a hill top the path became unclear, head was almost spinning and I couldn't see the, surely close, CP2 to pull me on. I became more ungainly, short of breath and unstable. A few minutes of this and a small fall made me realise I couldn't get to CP2 without action. I grabbed my emergency gel to get in some energy and electrolytes quick. I then reagained my direction and pushed on at a march. I passed "MdS" Mike who had gone out with the walkers, like myself he was unsure of the true path t this confusing section of the coast "path"?!. He had some of those walking poles, I could have done with some as the downhills were rabbit-punching my trashed quads.
After an impossibly long 3 miles a beach appeared - Whitesand Bay, the last beach before the finish. I passed some walkers and then some runners, I ground almost to a halt on some soft sandy sections and then into a town. Sennen Cove, a nice little place and a flat, concrete path to run along. Despite this luxury I still had to take a walk break halfway through town. A sign said "Lands End 1 1/4m" :¬0 - but pointed uphill :¬(
Then I was hallucinating, "Holy batman and robin...", the caped crusader and his squeeky-voiced assitant passed me. No.... it was actually happening, whatever wonders the crime fighters had in their utility belts it had them running a storming finish, despite the costumes that must have been baking them. I regained my focus, just a few hundred metres now. Me and another guy even broke into a fast finish, despite the ludicricity - is that a word - of getting there a few seconds faster in what had turned into over a seven hour, 28.5 mile run! Winners did just under 5!! Amazing, but consider the difficulty of this last days course when I remind you they'd been sub 3:30 yesterday.
I was there, the line, I stopped for a picture, received my rather cracking laser patterned glass trophy and was directed over to the food. I didn't dwell on the frankly anti-climactic Lands End (Cape Cornwall was more impressive). Water, water, water, was the first order of business. I've never appreaciated water, undiluted by anything calorific, more. The budget cola on offer had become a close second. After a few moments rest I grabbed my hard-earned pasty and headed off to the food table. I didn't feel hungry so availed myself of a "For goodness shake" which I've always found rather pleasent and effective. Thank the lord a "meat wagon" had just pulled up and I joined the other coastline casualties in crawling in for the luxury of automated transport. I couldn't resist nibbling the warm pasty - it was good - but unfortunately my parched throat couldn't drink enough to let me digest it all so I had to leave half till I got back to camp.
It was pretty much dark as I arrived back at the holiday park. Daryl - of the MdS suvivors team was already back at mine and Mikes chalet. He'd sucumbed to a painful foot injury and was able to complete the last day, but not in time for his train connection, even having gone off with the walkers. Made me realise that despite my bodily failures I was lucky to be seemingly uninjured. I tried a hot bath, I felt I'd give the ice bath a miss today, I'd punished my body enough. That took the edge off despite several acrobatics to try get properly washed up in the worlds smallest bath. Not long after Mike arrived back after a long day out, finishing just before sunset. The three of us dedided curry would be just reward and got a lift with one of the votwo guys into Hayle - some of them were still ferrying back tail-enders, well after dark. Those still out there were real heroes, they must have spent nearly half the last 24 hours on foot.
The curry was heavenly, the the cobra beer nectar. I remember once having a strong curry thats name was supposed to translate to "medicine for the sick man". If this is true todays Chilli Chicken Masala must do something similar for the man with very tired legs. A true reward - but I didn't need a reward, completion had been enough, the pasty the prize, the smile on my face didn't fade all the next day. I figured I was the happiest person spending 9 hours on a train the next day - though I may not have had much competition.
Its been over a week now, I'm back in the real world, the rat race, I've probably piled on the reckoned half stone I worked off on a parallel world where the sea was just a few footsteps to my right and a short drop away. It was life changing; though I'm no better or worse afterwards, probably no happier, or sadder, but I've taken on a challenge that was enormous to me and risen to it. Whats left to do now, but to look onwards and upwards and reset my expectations and think about what to do next. What challenge I can rise to meet, and prepare hard for to give me a focus to drive me on past the mundanities of life, the real stuff, getting in my hours, paying the bills.
4:39 - 4:43 - 7:12 - 79miles - 23rd of 127.
Drunken-Euphoria will return in a yet unknown adventure.