Weekend 17/18 of May was solely dedicated to the running for me and Anna. On Saturday we started very early as marshals helping with the South Downs 50 ultra marathon. For the first few hours we were feeding and filling bottles to the runners.
The same afternoon we went to Colchester. We found ourselves a nice camping site and spent some quality time therejust walking, talking and chilling. Despite sleeping by the very busy road we both had a great rest and a long sleep. Wewoke up early and we had plenty of time to eat breakfast, have a chat and relax in the warm sun. I knew it was going to be a hot day and this sun will be against me when I will be tabing.
We got there for the race registration just before 10am. This was straight forward and soon I was off to go through themerchandise stands. T-shirts, shorts, caps, scarfs, cups, pens and everything you could buy you could put a Paras logo on it,. I wish I could have that broad selection of clothes with logo of the brigade I served in back in Poland… I made adonation to the Paras charity and I was presented with a wristband. I am not a big fan of jewellery but this one is something else. I knew this was money well spent.
Half an hour before the start I changed myself into a full uniform, put my hat on and filled my bladder with water. It was avery hot day so hydration will be the key to the success. I set myself a target of no longer than 1hr 45 mins. 1hr50mins isthe paras standard. After the Red Devils display it was the parachute jump and I went to the starting area.
Ten minutes before the start paras organised little warm ups. Nothing special, some jumps, kicks, hips rotation etc but afew people around me were breathless at the end of it. Not a good sign if you are seriously trying to meet Para Regiment standard. Final countdown has started and a cannon shot was a signal for us to start moving.
First three or four miles were ok. Despite the fact that we were exposed to the sun all the time everyone was running fast and strong. All the way to the woods we all received a fair amount of applause and at this stage it was pure pleasure.
Then we had to cross the stream for the first time. Cautious paras were all around us making sure we have a good inhaleof smoke from their grenades and they also provided nice melody of short bursts from Minimi shooting somewhere nearby. Our boots were covered with thick mud and also heavy from the water inside them.
The tab was going on and at this stage the worst enemy was definitely the sun. I was very careful with drinking but also trying to have a small sip every five minutes or so. All my uniform was soaking wet. Trousers from the stream and my top from the sweat. Camouflage turn into one big dark piece of fabric.
Then we crossed the stream for the second time. I must say that being in the water was nice and refreshing but this feeling didn’t last for long. Boots being heavy again and I had my final three miles to do.
This is where the real challenge started for me. Last bits of strength left my legs, I was out of my breath and I had a headache from dehydration. Perspective of fast walking through the rest of the distance was very attractive. This was the moment when ambition ignited. Despite the weakness I was trying to jog as long as I could and walk any incline section. It wasn’t the fastest method but at least I was still moving forward. Using this method I crossed the barracks gate. I knew that from now on it will be only 15-20mins effort.
Moving my feet I was passing different groups of supporters. My Polish flags were attracting more attention. I heard many say ‘Well done Poland!’ etc but the most inspiring was one of the paras who gave me the biggest portion of encouragement shouting straight to my face ‘ Come on! Show them! Keep moving!’ and he gave me a high five. Good psychologist. I speeded up and from that moment on I was moving just faster and faster. Thanks mate!
Even though I looked like crap and I felt even worse in my mind I was flying. Nothing could stop me now. I was overtaking runners in their shorts and trainers. Rest of the way through the barracks took me just minutes. On the last gate paras expressed their admiration to my sideburns and with that I decided to sprint last few hundred yards thorough the park.
On this last bit supporters did a great job. Ovations were loud and I could hear people shouting to me and my mates around me. I could not feel anything at this stage not even pain. It was just the momentum what kept me sprinting. And this was it. To cross the finish line took me 1 hr 41 mins and something. One of the soldiers checked is my bergen still heavy. It was. I found out that I am a ‘good lad’ and I felt like I was.
Anna found me. I made a pose for the photo. Few moments later I changed myself and I joined supporters in their shouting and clapping when others were finishing their tab. That Sunday we all gave it our best.
We stayed for the decoration. I want to congratulate all the winners but one thing took my special attention. Parents andthe brother of a fallen para who lost their son in Afghanistan founded one of the trophies. Seriously, it was moving. They knew how much the regiment meant to their son. I could see a great unity between them and the soldiers. Sad but great at the same time.
To sum it all up my impression was I would like to say to that Paras 10 is a very good event for someone who wants to step up from short trial run into something more demanding. Organisers did a great job and paras were brilliant too. I’ll definitely will be back.