I left work at 22:00. Despite not being tired I went to bed at midnight. Alarm clock was set for 3am so I had to sleep very fast that night. Original plan for this run was to complete it within 24 hours but I was deeply believing I could do this in approx 20 hours. But original plan was put on hold long time ago. My problems with left leg reduced these expectations to just simply finishing this within time limit, which is 30 hours. We will see.
We arrived to the place half an hour before the start. You know my passion to support all possible medical programs. On this occasion I volunteered to be guinea pig in test of how body reacts for the extreme physical challenges. Few people from Oxford Uni measured me, weighted me, took my blood, DNA sample and checked my body fat. Now I was ready to go.
First fifty miles were boring and there is not a lot to write about. Course was constant up or downhill. Almost no flat sections. I did this distance slowly because I simply knew that in every endurance event the most important is last 30% of the route.
I got to the mid point after 11 hours. That time was very good and I was pleased with it. Just one hour longer than on my previous run on that distance. I was flying, if you can say something like that about endurance runner. Anna was helping me to change myself while I ate my spaghetti at the same time. It was a little bit like a pitstop on formula 1 where I was playing the formula role.
Second half of the run had started and I knew that my troubles began. I have noticed bigger pain in my left leg and my pace was slower and slower. To reduce impact I decided to walk all downhill sections. It took me about 6 hours to get to 76th mile from mid point. My leg was in a bad state. I had a quick calculation and made decision to walk rest of the distance. I can’t say enough good things about encouragement I received from Anna. She was brilliant.
I started my walk. Next aid station was on 86th mile. I started this run being tired. Running 80 miles soaked all energy not only from muscles but also from my brain. I was a lunatic. Still walking I was falling asleep over and over again. I fell few times to the bushes, hit some branches and fell off the track twisting my ankles numerous times. The idea of having a sit and sleep even for ten minutes was soooo strong… But every time I was standing up I just kept walking. It was when I made decision to have a quick power nap when I reached 86th mile. Another reason was that it was last aid station when I would see Anna, who can wake me up.
When I reached 86th mile I told Anna that I want to have a nap and asked her to wake me up in fifteen minutes. She said that if I fall asleep there will be no chance to wake me up and if I want to finish it I have to move on. Cleaver girl. I bet her little heart was torn apart. On one side she wanted to stop my agony and on another she knew that if I will not finish I will be suffering even more for much longer. I was standing there, a shadow of a man, thinking. I can’t move but it is also only 15 miles. I went too far and trained too long to be beaten by tiredness and pain. It’s just a few more hours…
I moved on. What happened next cannot be described by words. Next few kilometers of track was very steep combination uphills and downhills where feet were sliding down with no grip. Many runners were walking down backwards because it was simply safer, that how steep it was. I was moving a lot vertically but not a lot horizontally. This section took me a lot of time but I haven’t covered too much distance. It was hell but this pain kept me awake.
When I got to the next aid station I was told that from now on the rest of the course is on easy, wide and comfortable path to the finish line. Quick calculation gave me no illusion – I had to run if I wanted to be sure that I will finish before cut off. So I did. Pain in my legs was enormous. What kept me going was the fact that I am catching up and my time is looking better and better.
Finally I saw the Wye village. All what’s left was just to jump across the field and I will cross the finish line. This field was just plough. When I was walking across my feet were twisting in all directions and bursting with all blisters I had on my feet. It was not a pain, it was agony. Thanks God it was last mile! My trainers became wet inside and every step was like walking on needles.
I was running for 28,5 hours when I was cross finish line. I was really happy. Few dozen people welcomed me with ovation shouting their contrgratulations. It was such a nice feeling of achievement and triumph. I won with my fears and broke my limits. Many limits many times. I was so happy!
When I collected my t-shirt and buckle I went for a bacon sandwich. While eating I changed myself. I went thru medical check ups again. Procedure was the same: blood, weight, amount of fat, amount of water… When those guys had finished their job I went to the car and collapsed. I woke up three hours later and discovered that… I can’t walk! Anna took me home. When I went to the bathroom I found my ankles being three times bigger. My feet were like paralyzed and I had very little power in them.
We went to QA hospital in Portsmouth. I must say I didn’t feel very well being taken everywhere on the wheel chair. I was still so tired that left alone for more than a minute I was nodding and my head was flying in all possible directions. Anna told me that it looked so funny. All emergency department full of people with their wounds. Usually they suffer quietly. This time they were watching me and were laughing at me when I was nodding with mouths wide open, snoring etc.
And here is a space to thank my wonderful wife. She was supporting me during these runs. She was sacrificing her weekends, helping me on the aid stations and providing me with as much encouragement as I could take. Anna, without you it would be so much harder… I love you.
When I think about it now I am happy that I was able to manage to get enough qualifying points to UTMB2014. I feel like I did good job this year. It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t always as I planned. I received a good lesson and have a good entry to the world of trial ultra marathons. That is priceless. Now I just have to apply for UTMB2014 and be lucky to be drawn from the hat. Guys, wish me luck and keep your fingers crossed.