NDW100 starts for me always a day before. It is a well known ritual of packing myself, repacking, checking and replacing. No matter how long I think and try there is always this funny feeling which tells you to change everything just the day before the start. It’s called panic.
Very often I hear the same question: what do you have with you when you run 100 miles? The list of equipment I used on this occasion was: running vest, waterproof jacket , emergency blanket, mp3 player, few different type of energy bars (all small), five energy gels, two packs of dextrose, salt and multivitamin tablets, two head torches (large main and small emergency)toilet paper (strategically important),map , compass and GPS. All this stuff is the highest possible quality apart from GPS. As I mentioned many times before I know how to kill with it, I use it as a bottle opener but I don’t know how to use it for navigation. I always keep everything in waterproof covers even if it would be a dry day there will be buckets of sweat, that’s for sure.
I woke up just after 4 hours of sleep. I had a quick coffee and soon after I hit the road the trip to Farnham took something like an hour. Surprisingly I was on time and I had a few moments to prepare myself properly before the start.
When we started (0600am) everything was fine. Early morning was beautiful. Sun was rising and almost invisible the fog was slowly disappearing showing more and more world around me. After the initial few miles when all of us were running in a train, overtaking each other, pushing off the path etc everyone spread out evenly. I like this phase of every endurance race. There is someone experienced in front of you and all you have to do is just follow the others and enjoy the weather. After a few hours later things were not looking so good for me.
As you know I am rather a big boy for this kind of events. Moving these extra few pounds takes some more energy and even more water. This Saturday was hot the course was taking us through mostly open spaces where the sun was doing its job and I was thirsty all the time. I was trying to drink as much as I could but drinking too much at once is not good either. When I was packing my stuff I had a thought to take a third small flask with me, just in case. I decided not to do it because of limited space. Now this third flask would do the job perfectly. I remember a few times I was thinking ‘Lord, send me some water, please’. Be careful what you wish for, they say.
I must say something about marshals on the aid stations. As always these guys were brilliant beyond any expectations. They were very helpful, friendly and supportive. Some faces I knew from previous races and with others I was helping during runs years ago. Two of the stations had their theme. One was exotic beach and other was pirates. Even such a sad man like me enjoyed the view of one eyed ladies with sabres and plastic parrots on their shoulders. Cheers guys, you are brilliant!
Then it was half way point. As always tables were fool of treats and from the kitchen I could smell hot food. I had a quick chew (and plenty of water) and just after a few minutes I decided that it will be more beneficial if I will move on. A rest might be a saviour but also a killer on the way out of school I just couldn’t resist sending a parcel in a nice and comfortable cabin, if you know what I mean… A little bit lighter and in a high spirit I hit the trial again.
Third quarter wasn’t much harder than previous two. I was expecting my first problems here but it went ok. I was quite happy when I saw in the daylight things which on previous races I saw at night. It was good sign. I knew I did well and I still believed that I can do this course less than 24 hours even if I started to suffer from dehydration after all day in the sun.
More or less at midnight I’ve noticed first thunder flash. At 1am God replied to my prayers. The rain was very intensive and paths turned into streams. On the hilly sections it was very hard to find any dry piece of ground. On the flat sections it was even worse, everything was under water. Trainers lost their grip and feet lost its power. I had to make a calculation and it was obvious that it is much better to slow down and finish safe without falls rather than keep the speed and risk an injury.
As always on endurance events the longest part of the run is when you know you’re nearly there. My last ten miles was a drag. At this point I was struggling to keep running and every now and then I was stopping for some fast walk. Tons of water falling from the sky were not very helpful either. My strength came back to me on the last two miles. I just keep pressing on and being just below my limit because I knew I did not have to save myself any more.
When I crossed the finish line my friends, Rob and Richard joined me with congratulations I received more handshakes from Centurion marshals and a big hug from Nici. Three of us posed for a photo. Just a few seconds later Nici came back with the news which wasn’t a surprise for me but still wiped the smile from my face. My time was 24h30mins. Disappointment was clear on my face and she asked what is wrong. I explained that my ambition was to finish this run under 24 hours. ‘Well, next time get your finger out then!’ she said. This phrase is still with me and I think it is a good indicator how to train and run. Thank you Nici!
It took me only minutes to change myself and I was ready for my trip back home. On the back seat of Rob’s car looked like a dentist cabinet, spotlessly clean. It was nice change after hours on the muddy course. We have started to chat but I don’t think I could stay awake for longer than just few minutes. At some point I just lost the plot. I woke up somewhere near Portsmouth. All my body was in agony and stairs were a challenge not much smaller than 100 miles itself.
This is it, I did it again and I am proud of it.