Monday, July 13, 2009

Leg 5 Honister - Keswick

As we left Honister I knew it wouldn't be long till I saw Gem and Rick again, they were going to meet us at Newlands Church with road shoes for the last road section into Keswick. I was joined by Gerry Dewhurst & Steve Foster, as well as Emma who carried on from the last leg, Simon, who had been for lunch with Gem and Rick and was now raring to go again, and Jess who had got some kip in his bright pink tent at Dunmail then come to meet me for the last leg. It was great going up Dalehead, a fantastic feeling that all these people had come out to see me home I struggled to chew a Clif bar whilst climbing and only ended up eating half, it was too much effort to chew !

Me and my leg 5 support crew

Water and encouragement was passed from every direction each time I looked up, it was seriousy hot now in the afternoon sun and the miles were starting to show in my face I think. Coversation was light and humerous and a grin appeared across my face, this is the enjoyment of days like these, the atmosphere and comraderie shown by fellow fell runners. Two of these people I hadn't met before today, and yet they had driven all the way to the Lakes, at unsociable hours of the day, to help see me round my Bob Graham Round. It is truly humbling all the people that helped me and I will be forever grateful and would be pleased to return the favour any time.

On the way to Hindscarth

A couple of familiar faces appeared as we were descending Dalehead, Ian and Paline Charters, they have been a great source of information and support during the run up to my attempt and it was great to see them on the hill and run with them for a while, chatting as we shuffled along (it was definitely a a shuffle by now!). As we climbed Hindscarth and on to Robinson, more water was passed my way everywhere I looked, I remembered I had put a bag of Haribo in for this leg. Jess found them in his bag and I took a big handful, about half the bag, they tasted great and the only thing I could really be bothered eating by this point. Gerry tipped some left over water down my back, that was really refreshing.

As I touched peak number 42 it felt wonderful, all that training, the pain, the great days out, the not so great days out and everything I had worried about was lifted from my shoulders, it was done. Not yet though there was still the slight issue of getting to the Moot Hall ! the last descent felt great, stretching out my legs down the grassy slope, laughing at Jess who was struggling in his road shoes to get the required traction. All that was left now was 10k on the road, I wasn't going to set any records! We met Gem on the road and she ran for while with us, Rick was waiting with water in the cool box, and my road shoes, after a quick change we were away. I knew I had more than enough time for this section and I took it steady, taking the time to enjoy this moment, I don't think I wanted the Moot Hall to come too soon I just wanted to enjoy this feeling, a great day with friends in a beautiful place.

Nearly there

As we got nearer the smile got bigger and the legs strangely felt stronger, we crossed the bouncy bridge and then turned the corner onto the High Street, I could see the Moot Hall again for the first time in nearly 23 hrs. Gerry and Steve ran ahead to stop the traffic as people wound down their windows to enquire on whether it was a BG and offer their congratulations, I broke out into a sprint finish weaving my way through shoppers by the market, only to find the door blocked by a great big bloody van and some boxes! I was about to hurdle the boxes when the sensible voice in the back of my head said no, and I stepped gently through them to touch the door, YES!

Mine and Simon's sycronised dancing!

But where was Gem and Rick ? Everyone was shaking my hand and random strangers offered congratulations. Gem & Rick appeared over the steps, they weren't sure which side of the market stalls I would come up and hadn't seen me come in, Gem gave me a massive hug, her and Rick had played a blinder on the road support it was flawless, she told me she was really proud of me but I was really proud of her too. They had brought some bubbly with them and after a couple of swigs out of the bottle I passed it round. Jude from Gemma's work had turned up to see me in, and she commented that I looked to fresh, I certainly didn't feel it! As everyone dispersed and said their goodbyes we headed down to the car, we all sat round for a bit eating flap jack, making phone calls and just trying to take it all in whilst we reorganised the car and bagged all the smelly stuff.

My walk had become quite comical now and I wouldn't have looked out of place in a Monty Python sketch! Of course the room in the Hotel was on the second floor! We had a shower then headed down for some dinner and some more bubbly. Duncan Richards popped in to say hello, it was great to see him, I have spent a lot of time training with him. We were all starting to show signs of fatigue, converstaion had turned to grunts and we decided it was time for bed..................

Thank you to all of you who helped me get here, to all those who've dragged me out on training runs, asked me to support various challenges, those who turned up on the day to drag me round, I can't thank you enough. Huge thanks to my road side team, Rick & Gem, a pleasure to see you both and you looked after me amazingly. Especially Gem for being so understanding when I kept dissapearing at 3 in the morning and leaving you for the day, for not getting fed up with me talking about the Bob Graham all the time and for your support. Thank you all.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Leg 4 Wasdale - Honister

Leaving Wasdale

I had, in the back of mind, been dreading Yewbarrow slightly, it's so steep and unrelenting and infamously one of the hardest parts of a clockwise round. I was moving okay though, slightly weighed down by the rice pudding, but moving slowly upwards towards the summit. I had figured out early on in the round that the energy chews I had put in where great to suck on for a bit of a boost, so I was making my way through them as we moved along. We picked up the trod off the back of Yewbarrow towards Red Pike, Anthony commenting that it was unfair I could still run downhill faster than him even though I had so many miles in my legs! Bill took a detour to cut out a few peaks and aid his recovery from the last leg.

With Emma in charge of navigation, Red Pike was soon ticked off and we were on the way to Steeple, I had run this leg the other way with Ian Charters only a couple of weeks before and I knew a few useful lines that Kath Brierley had shown us to cut out a bit of rough ground. The sun was baking down now and the water was going down fast, every time I looked to the right on this section I could see Great Gable looming, waiting for me, I blocked it out and just tried to concentrate on the next peak. To quote Richard Asquith "This part of the circuit is, by general consent, one of the hardest patches of any clockwise round, with three of the biggest peaks of all - Pillar, Kirk Fell and Great Gable - in quick succession. After that it gets easier; but knowing that it will do so doesn't make the patch any less painful. The sheer quantity of ascent and descent consumes your morale as voraciously as it consumes your strength." Anthony and Emma gave me regular updates and kept the encouragement going as I tried to keep my mind on the job in hand.

One of those ascents!
Coming down off Pillar

My legs were feeling heavy and the climbing felt hard, every time I lifted my knees it felt harder but I stuck with it. As we came down from Pillar to Black Sail Pass, Bill was waiting with fresh water bottles, he took some empties round Kirk Fell to fill them at a stream, I dipped my hat in a small tarn and put it back on to chill my head down a bit. Kirk Fell felt a long climb and as Bill joined us for the climb up Great Gable I could really feel the miles in my legs. As we got to the top Bill said I could follow him down a quick route to Green Gable, it had taken him 14 mins with someone a few weeks before so off we flew down a rocky slope and down to Windy Gap, we then climbed up the top of Green Gable, this took us ten mins, it felt good and I think at this point I realised I had it in the bag.

Emma, Anthony & Me on Great Gable

Just five more peaks and that was it, Brandreth and Grey Knotts passed quickly and we were soon on the descent to Honister Pass, I felt a lot differently than I did here last October on the OMM, I had four hours to get to Keswick and no less than five support to help me.

Gemma and Me at Honister

I had my soup and warm Nuun and my last couple of Ibruprofen and then I was on my feet and on my way again.....................

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Leg 3 Dunmail Raise - Wasdale Head

Simon and me through the mist

We made good time up Steel Fell, only just over the schedule time, I have always used the direct route straight up the gully when climbing Steel Fell, although whilst talking to Joss Naylor (notice the name drop!) at Wasdale on Ian Charters’ 55@55 he mentioned going diagonally on a rising traverse and going up a gully just near the top. This was the line we took and it seemed a much nicer gradient and easier than normal, Bill was spot on as usual with his route finding and we skipped across the top and onto Calf Crag no problem. The cloud was now starting to burn off and rise making a nice morning, as the heat started to penetrate and warm my body.

Simon gave me a piece of fruitcake and some honey roasted nuts on the way to Sergeant Man, these made a nice change to the food I had been having and gave me a little boost. I was fairly focused on this leg and pretty much kept my head down and followed Bill and Simon, who kept talking to me and encouraging me along. I wasn’t the best conversationalist at this point but just listening to them gave me something to think about. I was just off the schedule times on the earlier peaks but didn’t lose much time. I suppose this was the first time I had really started to feel a bit of a hard spot, up the back of Rossett Pike and onto Bowfell it felt hard. As I got to the top of Bowfell though Bill told me that I had made about 4 mins on the ascent, I said “good because it felt like I was trying!”

Approaching the summit of Scafell Pike

The highest point on my BG, Scafell Pike

This was just the news I needed and it spurred me on, over Esk Pike and Great End I gained more time and then after we had ticked Ill Crag and Broad Crag I made up a bit of time climbing Scafell Pike. This was the first time I can remember seeing other people, loads of three peakers and a couple of rangers. To my relief I could see Steve on Broad Stand with the ropes in place, I gave him a wave and he shouted “Karl?”, “yes hello Steve” I shouted. I got to the bottom and I was offered a belay but I said I would be okay with the hand line. I was soon up and over the difficulties and could hardly believe how quick it was, I was now on the scramble to the top with Bill close by, we made the top 7 mins quicker than the schedule.

Approaching Broad Stand

Nearing the top of Scafell

I had turned round as I reached Broad Stand to look for Simon, I hadn’t heard from him for a bit, but he was nowhere to be seen. He had stopped to put something in his bag but we had gone from sight, I felt bad but we couldn't wait I had to get down to Wasdale. We ran down the path then picked up the trod to the crags and straight down the scree, we were flying and I felt great, we had made up nearly half an hour and it gave me a great sense of confidence to carry on.

Again the road side crew were perfect everything was in place just as ordered, I had asked for sparkling mineral water at the road side stops, as a bit of a change from water. This prompted much ridiculing from Gem and Rick as to whether I required ice and a slice as well! It hit the spot at Wasdale though, I drank loads from the bottle, the heat of the sun was starting to rise and Gem and Rick had given extra water to my support team, I think Anthony was carrying about 4kgs of water plus his own, of which I think he sacrificed some to fit mine in. Gemma rubbed sun cream into my head and my shoulders as it was obvious it was going to be a scorcher. This is where I realised Gem must really love me, she took my shoes and socks off , put talc on my feet and then put new socks on. The minutes passed quickly and it was soon time to get back on my feet and on the way to Honister…………

Monday, July 06, 2009

Leg 2 Threlkeld - Dunmail Raise

Unfortunately we did not see a spectacular sun set over the ridge as I had hoped, the cloud was not lifting and definitely looked set to hang around for a bit. As we approached Clough Head I started thinking of the day I had linked together leg 1 & 2 with Duncan. I had decided to recce the route straight up the front, rather than going up the coach road and climbing the ridge. I felt good then and felt pretty good on my round. I did have a thought on the day out with Duncan that it might be a bit much to go straight up on my round. I tried to convey these feelings to Jesse but I think he misunderstood me or chose to ignore my concerns as we were soon heading up by the gully, straight up the front. By now we had our head torches on and we could see Iain’s team fast approaching behind (I had passed Iain on the descent of Great Calva), Pete was struggling slightly with half a lung and one kidney problems so we took a minute and let Iain’s team through. We walked alongside them for a while, discussing the Fellsman and other runs earlier in the year, before we stopped for a minute to let Pete catch up.

It was clear that tonight was not going to be straight forward as the cloud was so thick on the tops that your torch light just reflected straight back in your face, it was still mild and I felt quite warm in my long sleeved top. We were soon running with torches in hand, rather than on our heads, as this diminished the glare slightly, although it was hard to gain much speed as the visibility was still poor. We arrived at the summit of Great Dodd and this was where the trouble really started. We bumped into Iain’s group again, we were all disorientated and confused in the conditions and it took us quite a while and a re visit to the summit to get on the way again. It quickly felt wrong though, too steep with rising ground to the left. I am not an advocate of GPS but Pete had switched his on, and on this occasion I was prepared to trust it, we ran off on a line and eventually reached the summit of Watsons Dodd, again the ground felt familiar.

I was back in my comfort zone again as we jogged along the ridge, although I was aware that we were not moving quickly enough, and were losing time on every peak against the schedule. The Great Dodd debacle had cost me at least 20 minutes but most of that was my advantage from leg 1 so I didn’t feel too bad. I decided that at the rate we were going we would only be about half an hour down by Dunmail. I felt content with this as the reason I had decided on a 22 hour schedule was to allow for any such incidents having said that it's still not great to feel minutes slipping away from you.

Nethermost Pike and Dollywagon Pike are awkward summits to find in the best of conditions and those on the night of my attempt certainly were of no assistance but with some micro nav we picked them up. The descent to Grisedale Tarn I have done so many times in training and usually fly down skipping over the rocks but in the dark and cloud I was stumbling and slipping and felt like Bambi! I got down to the Tarn outflow and onto the path to the col; we dumped the bags and started climbing Fairfield. I could see Iain’s team’s lights high up on the ridge and we passed them on their way down as we were about to hit the top. This gave me a boost as I realised we hadn’t dropped too much time or at least Iain had had similar troubles. We agreed on the summit cairn and then turned to run back to the ridge. It instantly didn’t seem right, too steep, the path was too windy, oh s**t! We then got very confused, traversed, still not right, the other way not right, panic, panic and more panic. Eventually we just looked at the compass and headed west! I hit a scree chute and said right if we drop down this we should hit the tarn, we had lost loads of time and I was feeling pretty low.

We hit the path by the tarn again, I grabbed my bag, head down, just get up Seat Sandal I told myself all is not lost. I was probably pretty quiet on this section although I don’t remember so much about it. I thought back to the text that Duncan had sent me just before I started “enjoy every peak” these words seemed to offer some comfort and I remembered why I was doing this. It wasn’t about proving anything to anyone but myself. I could still get round in 23 hours, I could maybe even make some time up, just stick with it. As I dropped off Seat Sandal a welcome sight, Rick's torch flashing up in my direction, I just wanted something to eat, a hot drink and to get going again. I still felt strong physically and after my discussions with myself my mental strength had returned. The sun was starting to show itself and the early morning light and heat gave me the boost I was hoping for.

At Dunmail Raise after getting my head together

Bill and Simon were both waiting for me, Pete decided he would peel off and head home and Jesse said he would see me later on leg 5, no problems, the rice pudding was divine, and my tea like nectar. I think Rick and Gem were worried about me, Rick was about to give me a good talking too but I was good, I had sorted my own head out. Within minutes I was ready to go with a fresh and strong support team, Bill out in front setting a strong pace for leg 3……...

Leg 1 Keswick - Threlkeld

Iain Kelly and Me at the Moot Hall

We set off well, just keeping back from Iain Kelly’s team, I was trying to leave a bit of a gap between us as I certainly didn’t want to be racing round. The night air was warm and humid and as the noise of the evening cricket match disappeared below us the conversation was light and full of tales of Bob Graham rounds, fell races, old heroes of the fells and Albert and Colin’s humour which kept it entertaining.

I then heard the sounds of what appeared to be a bag piper, no surely not, as we got closer the others agreed with me, and as we got to the car park at Latrigg we could see a lone piper at the top of the hill. This was totally unexpected but very surreal and certainly added to the atmosphere.
Colin and Geoff climbing Jenkin Hill

It’s hard to hold back whilst climbing Skiddaw, you have all that training in your legs, you haven’t done much for two or three weeks and it’s a long steady drag its easy to get carried away with the moment. We paced it well though, Colin reminding me every so often we were doing fine.
Me climbing Jenkin Hill

We were soon enveloped by low cloud, a theme that was to continue as far as Dunmail Raise. After touching my first of 42 summit cairns we were running again, down to the three fence posts close together, over the fence keep left, pick up the trod, it all seemed so fresh in my mind from the day I did it with Bill a month or so earlier. Then we noticed some runners to the left, it was Iain with his pacers, we must have picked a faster line or something not quite sure how we did that. We were down at the Cumbria Way track in great time and Ken Maynard was waiting with some water and jelly babies which he gladly shared, cheers. We took a couple of minutes whilst my pacers regrouped, just to let Iain get ahead again, before we started our ascent up Great Calva.

I was feeling pretty good and the climb passed without any trouble, we were soon hurtling down by the fence and to the river crossing, I spotted two rocks high out of the water and even managed to make a dry crossing, bonus. As we climbed up Mungrisdale common we were soon in the cloud again, Colin picked a great line, and without ever looking at a map, we walked straight up to the summit. He admitted to be on the way down Halls Fell that he had forgotten to put his map in his bag and was working off memory! We got to the top of Halls Fell in the last light of the day, as I had hoped, and made good time down to Threlkeld.

Jesse met us on the path to say the support was further up the lane than we were expecting, a mistake on my part whoops! Gem was exactly where I had told her, at the end of the lane next to the kennels, sorry I meant the wood yard! I got sat down and had my soup, bread and banana and black tea and honey, just as I had ordered. I knew then that the road support had it sorted and I had nothing left to worry about but to put one foot in front of the other. Pete and Jesse were here but no Dave, his wife had broke her leg so he was busy elsewhere, but we were about 15mins up and on our way again, torches in hand as the last light of the day was well and truly disappearing…………………………….

At Threlkeld, Jess & Pete ready to go, Rick waiting on

Colin relaxing at Threlkeld

Prelude to a BG

Some of the team prior to the off at the Moot Hall L-R Anthony, Albert, Colin, Gemma, Donkarlo, Rick, Geoff and Jesse
Anthony and me discussing route choices

It has taken me a while but I have got round to writing my report of the fantastic experience I enjoyed over the 26th and 27th June 2009.

Friday was a strange day, I had planned to have a really long sleep, maybe even into the afternoon. This of course didn't go to plan as I was wide awake by 8 and sort of managed to dose until 10 when I decided enough was enough and it was time for a shower. Most of the kit I had sorted through the week , but this didn't alleviate the last minute anguish, envisaging myself sat at Wasdale with no socks, no food and no support. I had a phone call whilst I was in the shower and Gems gave me a shout to say that Duncan Richards was on the phone, I towelled off and spoke to him. Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond his control he couldn't make the Broad Stand support but was in touch with Iain Kelly's rope man to try and sort something out, slight panic ensued, but I just thought, well I have other options if needs be and remained calm. My support crew was complete and without too many last minute changes looked like this.

Leg 1 - Albert Sunter, Geoff Lyons & Colin Jones
Leg 2 - Pete Dennett, Jesse Palmer & Dave Walker
Leg 3 - Bill Willamson & Simon Cartledge
Leg 4 - Anthony Fryer, Bill Williamson & Emma Aindow-Gregory
Leg 5 - Gerry Dewhurst, Emma Aindow-Gregory & Steve Foster, plus others ?

We had some lunch, lots of spaghetti for me, and started packing the car. The Golf isn't really a small car but it was looking well stuffed with kit and I couldn't help wondering if perhaps we had too much gear, "oh well you can never have too much !". We were slightly late setting off from home and a little behind schedule, but with plenty of time in hand to get to Keswick, Rick rang me to say he was just leaving work so wouldn't be long. We sat outside his house as the minutes ticked by and I was starting to get slightly nervous as half past four approached, leaving us just enough time to get to Keswick for half past six if there was no traffic.

Suddenly a silver streak came flying round the corner as Rick performed a parking manoeuvre at speed outside the house. "Now be careful Aidan, Daddy is a little stressed so stand back" I heard Helen say and we chucked Rick's bags in the car as he hugged Aidan, got changed, kissed Helen and was sat in the car ready to go, all in about 60 seconds ! We them launched into cyberspace as Gemma hit the particle accelerator and we cruised to Keswick at warp speed 8 arriving in plenty of time.

Duncan had called me on the way to say he had spoken to Steve (Iain's rope man) and he would stay put to rope me up Broad Stand, Superstar ! a huge relief. Albert and Colin were already here and looked ready to go, I did the necessary greasing up, checked my kit, explained where everything was in the car and which water was which etc. before wandering onto the High Street to hang around the Moot Hall ready for the 7pm departure. Geoff appeared in the nick of time and we sorted out kit into bags. It was a tense time, lots of people had come to see me off, although all I could think about was the impending run. I don't know if it was nerves but I couldn't really relax and just talk to people, so I'm sorry if I seemed quiet !

Rick running his book !

We had a few photos at the door and on the steps that passed a couple of minutes, Rick decided to start running a book on my time, like I needed any more pressure ! A quick kiss and a hug from Gem then as the clock turned seven we were off.......... I don't know quite how exciting this was for spectators as they only see you run about 10 metres before disappearing down a ginnel but thank you so much for coming to see me off.

Colin and me waiting for the off

Sunday, July 05, 2009

A View From the Other Side - Rick

As promised, a look at life through the eyes of the road support by Rick.

A thought crossed my mind as I followed a police car in Keswick, If I get stopped I’m in trouble. Here is the dialog that went through my head:
Officer “Good evening sir are you the owner of this vehicle?”
Me “no it belongs to Simon (Emma, Karl or Pete)”
Officer “Do they have a full name”
Me “I don’t actually know their full name”
Officer “How long have you known them”
Me “I met them in a lay by for 5 minutes”
Officer “Where do you intend to take their car”
Me “I can show you on a map it’s a car park near a slate mine”
Officer “So a person who’s name you do not know, who you have no contact details for allows you to drive their car through the night and leave it in a car park. I’m afraid I don’t believe a word of it and think that you should come down to the station to sort this out.”
Me “Wait I can explain my mates running 70 miles and I need to meet him. Give Bob Graham a ring he knows all about it”
At quarter to seven we waited to see Karl set off on his Bob Graham round. We stood at the top of the steps for a team photo. I have never felt as fat as I did standing amongst this group of runners. Karl set off and as is probably the tradition the road side team went straight for a chippy tea. As we ate our chips we contemplated the task ahead.I felt under real pressure that I did not want to be the one to mess up Karl’s attempt. We had had a couple of planning meetings during which Karl had issued our instructions. It was like a military operation with locations and times to pick up or drop off people and vehicles and details of what is required at each stop.
We drove together to our first pit stop and had time to kill and so went for a walk. Foolishly we walked towards the kennels and disturbed the pack of hounds who alerted most of the lakes to our presence. The first stop went really well with Karl and team on time and all food and drink ready. After hours of waiting the stop seemed to be over in seconds and it was time to pack up and head off to the next pit stop.
This is the first car change of the night Pete’s car was too advanced by far it would not start if the seat belt not fastened and the hand brake was a push button on the dash. I’m glad that I drove this car early on as my sleep deprived mind would not have been able to cope later in the challenge.
Me and Gem then sat in the car park in the centre of Keswick waiting to pick up Bill. Despite malicious rumours I’m not use to sitting in car parks in the early hours waiting to meet a strange man. We all then headed of to the next pit stop at dunmel raise.
Karl had problems and was about an hour late (damned inconsiderate). I was getting slightly anxious and as we watched their lights descending I prepared myself for a Taylor tantrum. I had under estimated his mental strength. He sat down and as I was about to start my deep motivational speech when he simply declared “I’m alright it’s sorted”.
As the next set of runners departed with Karl in the morning light (03;00) Jess summed up their experience on the tops with the beautifully Yorkshire poetic phrase “Fairfield were a reet basturd” before he retired to a bright pink tent for a rub down and sleep.
I now drove my second car of the night to honister pass. It was during this drive that I realised Gem had to keep waiting for me to catch up. She believes the number in a road sign is a minimum you should drive at. I left the car parked up at the youth hostel and we headed for wasdale.
Wasdale had a bad start due to teams doing the 3 peaks challenge. They had an inability to drive their hired minibuses and loudly announced how pleased there were with a time of under 4 hours! The sun was already starting to beat down so we decided that extra water may be required along with sun cream for the next leg. The pit stop went well with all runners looking well despite the heat.
We dove back to Keswick (car number 3) and decided that we just had time for lunch as we had missed breakfast. It’s amazing how good a drink and sandwich can taste when you have not eaten in a while.
It felt a long drive up to the slate mine as fatigue was starting to set in. We unpacked the chairs and decided that we deserved a brew when a shout went up “I can see them.” We promptly panicked and prepared soup, drink, clothes, food and drink for Karl and pacemakers in record time before being told it’s not them. As we had a little time we visited and left an energy bar at the slate memorial to all the competitors that had drowned on the mountain marathon 2009. This was a deeply moving moment that will stay with me for a long time.
I must apologize to all Karl’s runners at this stage as I feel I may have been a little too happy. At home I only drink decaf coffee. This weekend Gem had been making double strength coffee and it gave me a great caffeine hit (I am also naturally happy this is due to my general ignorance of what is going on).
We once again packed the car the smell of wet sweaty running clothes was beginning to gain strength at this stage. We drove down very narrow lanes to the church (I’m not religious but I offered a quick pray as I did not want to have to repeat this weekend too soon) for the change into road shoes for the final few miles. At this point I should state that Gamma’s navigation was flawless and we made it in good time. Please pass on our apologizes to the couple cutting the hedge who failed to realise that Gem could not wait while they finished off the last four meters.
At the church the tiredness really set in combined with the heat. I took a long swig from a water bottle only to discover it contained Karl’s magic rehydration solution. I don’t know if it only tastes good if you are running but it was foul! I think it was because we knew this was the final pit stop and if all went well we had finished, but the wait seemed endless. As I sat in the cool of the church I reflected on the last 19 hours. I felt really good to have been a part of the challenge and was very relieved that we had not messed up. I also thought of all the people involved this included those that helped on training runs prior to the event or who had given advice. I also thought what a great bunch of slightly strange people who are willing to give up their time to help Karl with his challenge. They carried his kit, kept on track with his pace, navigated but most important kept him focused and motivated. I also have a great respect for partners of these runners who allow them the time to enjoy their sport and even provide food and support to them. I really enjoyed meeting you all.
I was laid in my garden with my feet in a paddling pool being fanned and fed Indian snacks when Gem woke me to tell me they were on their way. It was my first ten minutes of sleep since 630 Friday morning and it felt good.
The runners switched into road shoes for the sprint Finnish into town. We drove back to Keswick parked up and waited for the triumphant finish. Karl looked remarkably well as he happily hit the hall door. It was over, job done.
I must thank Gemma I don’t know many people who could cope with spending this long in my company with out resorting to violence. I also admit that your muffins were superior to my banna bread, there I said it.
Karl what else can I say except that I have utmost respect and at the end of the day you don’t run bad for an ex fat lad.


Friday, July 03, 2009

The Taper !

I have not posted much over the last couple of weeks regarding my training but I have been busy, not running admittedley as the taper was well underway. On the 16th June I turned 30 and had a wonderful week of celebration. Gem woke me in the morning with a bed full of balloons and a champagne breakfast mmmmmmmm. We then drove north for a fun day in Keswick, not BG recceing for a change, we went out on a rowing boat to St. Herberts Island. When we got there Gem had prepared a birthday pic nic which was lovely, all of my favourite things.

In the evening we went for a meal at Angels in Ribchester which was also very nice, and we all had a great night. We both booked off the first three days of that week so we were only in for two days, I didn't mind then when my mate Richard rang up to see if I could help him with some work on Saturday doing a conservatory base, I did think it was slightly strange as I haven't worked with him for about 4 years but didn't think any more about it. My suspicions were certainly not unfounded though, we went for a couple of pints on the way home for my birthday, allegedly, but Richard did seem to be stalling me slightly, still he played the part well and I had no suspicions. I was expecting Gemma to pick me up to go to her friends party, when Rick turned up, he told me the lads had planned something for me and I needed to put on a blindfold and go with him in his car, I was definitely suspicious now !! We drove, I don't know where, and then arrived at the destination. My blindfold was removed and SURPRISE !

It was a wonderful night and a fantastic surprise, Gemma had done an awesome job of party planning, getting in touch with people and decorations, tables, gazebos etc. absolutely wonderful. Thank you Gem and all those that came to help celebrate my Birthday. I think one of the best bits of the party was my cake, a very apt cake given the upcoming Bob Graham Round.